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Public Policy Analysis: Evidence Based Policy and Evaluation




Admissions requirements

  • Academic Writing

  • Foundations of Research Design or Quantitative Research Methods

  • Institutions of Governance and Development or Introduction to Comparative Politics


In recent years, a so-called “post-truth” world emerged, where evidence, scientific expertise, and technical knowledge seem to carry less weight than opinions that appeal to personal beliefs, as illustrated by the UK’s EU referendum and the US presidential election. For instance, Michael Gove, a member of the UK Parliament, stated: “People in this country have had enough of experts”.

Regardless of the rise of post-truth politics, evidence and independent experts still play a pivotal role in national, supranational, and international politics and policy-making. However, the debates about evidence based policy-making are highly contested. On the one hand there is a demand for and expectation that public policies should be based on evidence and facts. Expert advice arrangements are expected to contribute to improving the problem-solving credentials of policy and decision-making. At the same time, the authority of independent experts and the powers of the “unelected” are challenged. Professional elite monopolies in the governance of societal sectors have been under attack from an increasingly informed public. In political decision-making the distinction between beliefs based on normative views and technical knowledge is contested and blurred. Specialized knowledge is enlisted in the service of special interests or mustered as political ammunition in adversarial decision-making.

In view of the recent events and disputes, this course focuses on the core debates, theoretical arguments, and recent academic research of evidence based policy-making. In this course, students will investigate the role that evidence, scientific knowledge, and technical expertise play in national, supranational, and international policy-making across various policy areas (e.g., environmental protection, financial markets, health). In particular, this course focuses on three themes: the rationales for relying on evidence in policy-making; the potential and challenges of evidence based policy-making (e.g., legitimacy, accountability, independence problems); the core political science research on evidence based policy-making.

Students will be asked to reflect on the readings and actively discuss the core virtues and challenges of evidence based policy-making, as well as to develop their own research project, in which they attempt to compare diverging policy solutions and explain why the role of evidence varies across policy areas, counties, over time, etc.

Course objectives

After successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand and critically review a selected body of literature on evidence based policy-making drawn from political science, sociology, law, and economics.

  • Understand the core contested issues in evidence based policy-making, e.g. conflicting role of values and evidence in policy, and the challenges that evidence based policy-making faces in an era of ‘post-truth’ politics.

  • Critically assess the impact of evidence and the role of scientific experts in contemporary policy-making.

  • Critically review evidence based policy-making practices in various policy areas: environmental protection, migration, financial markets, etc.

  • Explain why and under what conditions evidence fails to prevail drawing on various theoretical explanations.

  • Apply concepts and theories on evidence based policy-making to own research.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The class meets primarily as a seminar in which the readings are discussed to reveal their insights and limitations. This is a reading- and discussion-intensive course whose success depends critically on students’ preparation and active participation. We will cover a great deal of material in this course, and the readings will vary, requiring participants to absorb and gain mastery over a range of theoretical perspectives and information about a variety of evidence based policy making issues and empirical cases. This will require a collective “piecing together” of theoretical arguments and empirical evidence.


The assessment for this course includes the following components:

  • Class participation: 15%

  • Two written assignments (each 15%) on the politics of evidence based policy: 30%

  • Research Proposal: 10%

  • Class presentation: 10%

  • Final research paper: 35%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list



This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact