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Public Institutions*



Institutional analysis in its various forms is increasingly prominent in contemporary research in public administration and much of the social sciences. What are institutions, and how are they different from other social phenomena? What effects do institutions have on the behaviour of actors? How can institutions overcome collective action problems? How do institutions change and when do they remain stable? These are some of the questions that we are going to discuss in this course.

The course will discuss the foundations and recent theoretical developments in institutionalist theories, with an emphasis on their application in public administration research and analysis.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this course, students have attained:

  • broad understanding of the multiple effects institutions exert in public life,

  • understanding of differences and similarities of various institutional approaches,

  • understanding of the type of collective action problems that institutions aim to resolve,

  • capability to apply institutional reasoning to the analysis of real-world problems, especially to issues relevant in their specialization


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Methods of instruction

This course makes use of lectures and in-class discussions.

Study load

  • Total study load: 140 hrs.

  • Contact hours: 24 hrs (7 weeks x 3hrs per week + 3 hrs exam)

  • Self-study hours: 116 hrs (7X14 hrs weekly preparation; 18 hrs exam preparation)

Method of assessment

Written examination with short questions and essay questions (100% grade).
Short assignments (pass/fail).

In case of an insufficient grade (lower than 5.5), the exam can be retaken. As the course is offered twice a year, the retake will take place together with the exam of the next cohort.

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 a mark lower than 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’.


Blackboard page is available one week before the course starts.

Reading list

Academic papers to be downloaded through university library. More information on Blackboard.


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.


Dr. Maarja Beerkens
Email: m.beerkens@cdh.leidenuniv.nl
Tel: (0)71 527 3751