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Politicians and Public Managers


Admission requirements

MPA students of the PML track can register for this course.


The specialisation course Politicians and Public Managers teaches you how successful public governance depends on the decision-making of politicians and managers, and discusses the most important dilemmas of decision-making in a political-administrative environment. Although politicians and public managers have distinct roles and interests, they ultimately depend on each other to devise and implement policy solutions to societal problems. Through various theoretical perspectives, this course addresses how politicians may seek to control ‘shirking bureaucrats’ from prioritising their own policy goals, how public managers can influence the agenda and preferences of politicians through their substantive expertise and the strategic supply of information, and how public managers can safeguard the public interest amidst political failure and populist sentiment.

The course examines the behaviour of political and managerial decision-makers through the analysis of a variety of national contexts. As such, the course offers an outspoken international perspective. Through salient examples and interactive applications connected directly to practice, the course prepares you for a professional role in the context of political-administrative decision-making.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students are able to

  • understand and compare the key characteristics of politicians and public managers in a decision-making context;

  • explain how institutional characteristics in which politicians and public managers operate shape their behaviour and the interactions between them;

  • apply institutional and behavioural perspectives on decision-making to national and international cases;

  • navigate the competing expectations facing public managers in a decision-making context;

  • apply the core theories and concepts to analyse political and managerial decision-making in public administration practice.


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

Mode of instruction

Weekly classes (21 hours), individual paper (40 hours), self study (79 hours).

Assessment method

Individual assignment (100%). Students will be permitted to retake the assignment if an insufficient grade has been obtained using the first attempt.

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

To be announced.


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams). Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Registration for this course is possible from Wednesday 14 December 13.00h.

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

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis. Guest-/contract-/exchange students also do not have to confirm their participation for exams via MyStudymap.


Dr. J. van der Voet
Dr. J. Christensen