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Introduction to Public Affairs


Admission requirements

This course is part of the Bachelor Programme Public Administration. This course is open to Erasmus exchange students, you have to register before December ´15.


Public Affairs is about the way in which all kinds of organizations engage in lobbying and in securing a good reputation. In the world of policymaking, organizations and groups with a specific interest try to influence decisions to their favor. They may try to get an issue on the agenda, or prevent it if this threatens their interest. How do they do this, what strategies they use, and with what effects? How can we understand the myriad of business corporations, professional associations, NGOs, citizen groups and increasingly also public organizations that gets involved in lobbying? How do policymakers respond to claims made by interest groups? What about the transparency of lobbying, and the implications for democratic representation?
This course introduces you to the world of public affairs, in which not only lobbying is relevant but also the reputation of organizations as they are more and more held publicly accountable for their behavior. How can you study the lobbying game, and how do organizations learn about strategy and reputation building? Do they work together, or do they act alone?
Public affairs happens not only at the national (or regional, or local) level but also and increasingly in international arenas. What is the playing field of this activity, what role do the media have in the portrayal of issues on which interest groups lobby and policymakers are expected to take them up? How do policymakers select issues from the enormous volume of problems and claims that are presented to them?
This course takes both perspective: that of interest groups that want to influence public policy, and that of policymakers who deal with organized economic and social interests and must choose which ones to address and which to ignore.

Course objectives

At an introductory level, this course provides you a view on the population of interest organizations and the way they develop strategies and tactics for influencing policymakers.

After successfully completing this course, you are able to:
1. Capture the playground of lobbying and the actors engaged in it.
2. See how diverse types of interest orgnizations have different strategies and must compete in getting access to policymakers and building a positive image.
3. Understand that the supply side of interests (the groups) and the demand side (the policymakers) are mutually dependent, and see how their relationship works.



Mode of instruction

The teaching format of this course is lectures combined with work groups in which you present and discuss assignments. The assignments are based on the literature and will contain real world cases of public affairs.

Course Load

The total work load is 140 hours, of which 14 are contact hours, 70 hours self study onderwijsmateriaal, 36 hours team work on assignments en 20 hours preparation of the course exam.

Assessment method

Assignments will be made and graded, which make up 40 percent of your final grade. The other 60 percent comes from your final exam. A 5.0 score for the assignment average is the minimum to be allowed to participate in the exam. The final exam score must be at least 5.5 to pass for this course.

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and earned a mark between 3 and 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


The course will be included in the Blackboard courses list.

Reading list

A course syllabus will be available, with downloadable reading material, via the library.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Prof. dr. Arco Timmermans, Schouwburgstraat 2, room B 104,
phone 070 527 3786