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Politics and the Policy Process*



Policy making is the process through which social problems appear on the public agenda and collective decisions are being made and implemented to address these problems. The contest for political power determines the most important decision-making actors, but there is more to policy making than the competition between political parties. In addition to the impact of political preferences, policy making is driven and constrained by public opinion, by the activities of interest groups, and by the diffusion of policy innovations. The purpose of this course is to introduce the main theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of policy making. The course will provide the students with a theoretically-informed understanding of the policy process and will acquaint them with the empirical generalizations about the impact of various factors on policy change provided by existing political science and public administration literatures. As a result, the course will enhance the students’ skills in translating theoretically-relevant questions into empirical research designs.

Methods of Instruction

A combination of lectures and class discussions of the assigned literature.

Study Material

The literature for the class comprises of a number of academic articles accessible through the university library system.


The students will be evaluated on the basis of a 12-15 pages empirical research paper. The research paper should apply one of the approaches discussed during the course to a real-world case (or a set of cases) of policy making. The choice of topic would need to be discussed with the instructor and finalized by Week 4, and the research design of the paper and preliminary findings will be presented in the final sessions of the course.


Wednesday 11 September, 9.00-11.00 hrs in 1A11
Wednesday 18 September until 6 November, 13.00-15.00 hrs in SA15
Wednesday 13 November until 20 November, 13.00-15.00 hrs in SA07
Wednesday 27 November until 18 December, 13.00-15.00 hrs in SA05

Entrance Requirements