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Public Policy and Values


Admission requirements

This course is for Master students of Public Administration only.


Values matter for the choice, design, and implementation of various public policies, as well as for how policymakers, civil servants, stakeholders, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens think about and behave in relation to these public policies. Moreover, the way in which different kinds of values (e.g., moral, political, social, economic, epistemic, aesthetic) should shape, inform, guide, or constrain policymaking is subject to pervasive and persistent social and political disagreement and power relations.

To understand how different kinds of values bear on policymaking and how relevant value disagreements should be addressed, we need an approach that is both theoretically rigorous and practically useful. This course presents such an approach by focusing on the way in which the choice, definition, and operationalization of different values through policy standards, targets, and indicators influences how value is – or is not – realised through different public policies and government action.

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

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 e-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 presentation (50 percent of the grade)

To pass the course, students need to have a minimum of 5.5 in both components; no compensation is possible.

Partial grades will not remain valid after the exam and the resit of the course.

Reading list



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 13 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.

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.


Dr. D.A. Salazar Morales
Dr. A. Poama
Dr. M.M. Young