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Decision-Making in Multi-level Governance Systems


Admission requirements

This course is for Master students of Public Administration, track International and European Governance only.


This course introduces students to the variety of decision-making processes and procedures in multi-level governance settings: from local, regional and national decision making processes, to the densely institutionalised setting of European Union policymaking and the more informal and unregulated setting of global political decision-making. We will use a variety of decision-making theories (e.g. rational choice, behaviouralism, constructivism) to explore such topics as power, conflict, collective choice, time, strategic behaviour, uncertainty, and ideational change.

Course objectives

  • Understand and compare the key theories and concepts in state-of-the-art policy-making and decision-making literatures

  • Advanced understanding of how multi-level governance systems constrain or enable decision-making on complex (trans)national policy issues

  • Advanced understanding of the complexity of decision-making situations which real actors are confronted with

  • Identify and apply effectively a relevant theoretical framework to analyse real life problems and cases in a conceptually rigorous manner

  • Critically evaluate the effects of various multi-level decision-making systems on the outputs and outcomes of national, international and EU policy processes

  • Build, present and defend well-grounded arguments in oral communication

Labour market
This course aims to develop an understanding of practical cases through different theoretical lenses. The practice of decision making in multi-level governance systems is at the core of this course, potentially closely related to what students after their studies will work on in jobs in the public and private sector. Both in the lectures, seminars and the simulation game the focus on career preparation will be present.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars: interactive discussions of the literature, group presentations of application of various theoretical lenses to the literature, simulation game.

  • Further structured study (preparation for team presentations)

  • Self-study (course reading, preparing weekly reflection reports on the assigned literature)

Assessment method

  • Written reflection reports on the assigned literature, weekly (individually, 40%)

  • Group presentation on application of theory to case of multi-level governance decision-making (group, 25%)

  • Written reflection note on simulation game (individually, 35%)

In order to pass the course, students must receive a grade of 5.5 or higher on ALL components averaged together. In other words, insufficient partial grades can be compensated by sufficient partial grades.

Attendance is compulsory for all seminars. The lecturers need to be informed of any absence in advance of the seminar and will determine whether the reason for missing a seminar session is valid.

A re-take for the individual written reflection reports and the individual written reflection note on the simulation will be provided in the regular resit period. If a student passes both the reflection reports and the reflection note, but still has an insufficient grade (5.0 or lower), an individual oral examination will be given as “re-take” for the group presentation component.

Partial grades from the academic year 22/23 are still valid in the current year (23/24).

Reading list

The compulsory readings consist of a set of journal articles. The reading list is posted on Brightspace a month before the start of the course


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. R. de Ruiter
Gebouw: Wijnhaven
Kamer: 4.120

Dr. L.M. Obholzer