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Public Institutions


Admission requirements

This course is for Master students Public Administration only.

There is a transitional arrangement in place for students who in the academic year 2018-19 passed either the written exam or the individual paper, and who are completing the course in the academic year 2019-20. More information can be found here.


Institutions are at the center of political life. Institutions like government ministries and international organizations formulate and implement public policies. And the economic policies and welfare state of a country can be understood as policy institutions.

What are institutions, and how are they different from other social phenomena? What effects do institutions have on the behaviour of public officials and other actors? How can institutions overcome collective action problems? How do institutions change and when do they remain stable? And what are the implications for institutional design and reform? These are key issues in the study of public institutions.

The course will present and discuss different institutional theories that seek to answer these questions. It will apply these theories to the analysis of real-world cases from public administration, such as Obama’s healthcare reform or the relationship between ministers and bureaucrats. It will also discuss the implications of these theories for institutional design and reform to address contemporary societal challenges.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students will:

  • have an understanding of the concept of institutions and understanding of the varieties of institutional theory

  • have an understanding of how institutions shape how public officials and public organizations deal with governance challenges

  • understand and be able to apply multiple institutional theories to real-world issues.

  • be able to draw implications for institutional design and reform from institutional theories and communicate results in a way that is relevant to policymakers.

Labour market
In the course, students develop two main types of skills relevant for the labor market: analysis skills and advisory skills.


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

Mode of instruction

The course consists of lectures, group work and self-study. Attendance during the lectures is compulsory.

Course Load

Total course load: 140 hours
Of which:

  • lectures: 7 x 3 hours = 21 hours

  • further structured study (group work): 8 hours

  • self-study: 111 hours

Assessment method

  • Weekly in-class exercises done in groups (30 % of total grade).

  • Individual paper (70 % of total grade).


All course information is available on Blackboard two weeks before the start of the course.

Reading list

The readings consist of academic articles that can be downloaded through the university library.
Readings will be announced on Blackboard.


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 there.


Dr. J. Christensen

Dr. C.H.J.M. Braun