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Public Policy and Values


Admission requirements

This course is for Master students Public Administration only.


Policy-makers respond to societal problems and decide on their solutions during the various stages of the policy cycle. At times, however, problems and their solutions disappear from the policy cycle or policy-makers avoid clear decisions. Policies may be successful, but often expected outcomes are not achieved. Assessments of possible solutions to a problem may appear too optimistic, political intentions may clash, or sudden events may make other problems seem more urgent. Competing perspectives among stakeholders may also jeopardise policy change during the implementation stage and policy evaluation.

In order to understand these processes we need a systematic approach to provide us with a sharper view at the world of policy making. This course presents such an approach by focusing on the following central elements in the policy process: (1) the attention to issues; (2) the portrayal of problems as they emerge and travel through the various stages of the policy cycle and (3) the role of different perspectives in policy change.

A better understanding of the role of values in the creation of policy from its emergence on the agenda until its ex-post evaluation is fundamental to any kind of professional work related to policy making, analysis, and evaluation that you may aspire after concluding your Master programme.

Course objectives

This course aims to enlarge your conceptual, integrative and reflective skills when analysing public policy, and the conceptual, as well as practical connection between public values and public policy. After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand and explain the conditions under which public and political attention to problems rises and falls, and major policy changes occur or are prevented;

  • Analyse the various types of public and/or publicly relevant values tracked by different public policies;

  • Analyse public policies, their social construction and normative dimensions by identifying how problems are portrayed, values identified, justified and operationalised, goals selected and solutions designed, presented and evaluated;

  • Apply key theoretical concepts to practically relevant scenarios of public policy and public values debates;

  • Effectively and independently carry out a policy analysis and communicate the results, both individually and in a group setting.


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

Mode of instruction

This course consists of 4 lectures and 3 interactive seminars.

Total 140 hours of which:

  • 14 contact hours

  • 56 self-study hours

  • 30 group project preparation hours

  • 40 final exam paper writing hours.

Assessment method

The assessment method of this course consists of two partial evaluations:

  • Individual paper (50 percent of the grade)

  • Group paper (50 percent of the grade)

To pass the course, students need to have a minimum of 5.5 in both components.

Partial grades are only valid in the current academic year; partial grades will not remain valid after the exam and the resit of the course.

Reading list



Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Registration for courses in uSis is possible from 13 July (block 2) or 14 December (block 4), 13.00h. Enrolment for the workgroups is not necessary, students will be divided into groups. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. V.E. Pattyn
Dr. A. Poama
Dr. M.M. Young