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Lobbying and Public Affairs in Theory and Practice


Admission requirements

Participation in any of the tracks of the MPA-program.


Public affairs is an expanding field of research and practice across the world. It is about lobbying by all kinds of organizations and groups, from multinational companies to local grassroot citizen groups, and about the way such stakeholders manage their position and reputation in society. They interact with government organizations and elected officials in order to influence the agenda and policies, and governments and international organizations must deal with them to make sure their policies are well informed, legitimate, and implementable.

How does this process of lobbying and public affairs happen, what are its effects and consequences, what determines success or failure, and what can you learn from this to become well oriented on your own future professional role in practice? These are the central questions in this elective course. The perspective is international, which means we consider not only different countries but also the way lobbying and public affairs take place at the international stage, in Europe and more globally. Stakeholders travel in the strategies they pursue, issues travel from origin to policy destination, and thus much lobbying and influencing of reputations crosses borders.

Drawing from the most recent international literature, we address the following themes:

  • How private and public interests differ and what are the effects of this difference.

  • How organizations and groups vary in the way they pursue their own interests.

  • Why lobbying for change often is harder than lobbying to defend the status quo.

  • What it takes to lobby together in a coalition, and under what conditions this leads to success or better is avoided.

  • What strategies for communicating frames and definitions of problems exist and how support is mobilized.

  • When elected or administrative officials at the receiving end are open or closed in their response.

  • The way in which transparent and responsible lobbying can fit in a democratic, open society.

  • How academic knowledge and evidence about lobbying and public affairs can be applied in practice, and how this can be connected to experience.

  • What are key competencies for lobbying and public affairs in an globalized and diverse environment.

Course objectives

  1. Knowledge: understanding of the topics addressed in the course, so you can show and explain how differences between types of stakeholders, issues and situations of interaction between lobbying and receiving actors leads to different outcomes.
  2. Analytical skills: you demonstrate for a case from practice how and why success was achieved, or failure was the result.
  3. Strategic and tactical skills: you design a brief strategy for a real world stakeholder and specify how and why the strategy is developed.
  4. Communicative skills: you present a case convincingly for a small audience.


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

Interactive seminars with one or more guest speakers.
Presentations of a lobby case.

The total number of hours for this course is 140, divided as follows:
7 times interactive seminars of 2 hours: 14 hours;
Self-study (reading) 80 hours;
Work on assignment 40 hours;
Preparation of presentation of lobby case 6 hours.

Assessment method

Written assignment (80%), and participation and presentation (10+10%).
Partial grades can not be compensated; all individual partial grades must at least be 5.5 to pass the course.

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.


Registration for this elective is possible via MyStudymap or directly in uSIs from 4 October 2022, 13:00h.


Prof.dr. A. Timmermans