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Governance and Digitalisation


Admission requirements



What new challenges face the state in an era of turbulent technological change? Governments must adapt to new ways of functioning with digital technologies, and they also respond to new societal challenges created by such technologies. This course will take a critical look at what has happened in the 21st century in the meeting of digitalization and governance, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different public administration solutions to the challenges.

The lectures in this course will cover the main theories and debates on the topic of governance and digitialisation. Lectures will also be designed to open the floor to students to present and discuss their take on the theories.

The course has two parts. In the first part, the lectures cover the matter of what exactly digital technologies are and how they create governance challenges. The challenges addressed include areas such as information complexity, political influence, and public accountability. These challenges can be seen in real world events such as fake news, contracting with 5G providers, and artificial intelligence (AI) in public services.

In the second part, the lectures cover the possible solutions to these challenges. Solutions include approaches such as citizen coproduction, bureaucratic restructuring, and transparency. These solutions can be seen in real world events such as policy crowdsourcing, online one-stop-shops, and open data platforms.

Solutions are unlikely to be without flaw. Students will be given analytical tools for evaluating the solutions, invited to think about alternative solutions, and given opportunities to produce practical proposals that are realistic about what can be achieved.

Course objectives

  • Be able to describe what makes the governance impact of digital technologies (e.g., apps, smart devices, social media) different compared to analogue technologies (e.g., print media, analogue TV).

  • Be able to describe several real-world cases of governance challenges (e.g., fake news, political influence of tech companies, discrimination in AI systems).

  • Be able to discuss theories about how digital technologies lead to those challenges.

  • Be able to selectively apply policy solutions to the challenges.

  • Be able to assess the limitations of the policy solutions using analytical tools.

  • Be able to design alternatives while giving attention to potential implementation problems, and communicate these designs in oral presentations.


On the right side of the programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

The course instruction will take the form of lectures.

In the lectures the instructor covers the main points in the required readings and sets them in the context of broader scholarly debates. Discussion and participation from students is also encouraged in lectures, and online platforms will also be used for students to present their ideas in other formats. Attendance to all lectures is highly advisable so that students receive the necessary information and guidance for completing their assignments.

Lectures = 7x2=14 hours
Assessment (final exam and viewing) = 5 hours
Self-study (including work on paper) = 121 hours

Assessment method

Final exam = 100%

Students who score below 5.5 will have the opportunity to resit the exam. Dates and locations for retakes will be made available in the online roster of the institute and the course hand out.

From 2020-2021 onwards, partial grades will not remain valid after the exam and the resit of the course.

Reading list

A bibliography of required reading will made available on Brightspace. Students are not required to purchase any literature for the course.


Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course, after registration for the entire minor.
Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrollment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


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