Curriculum of the Master of Public Policy
Build a strong interdisciplinary foundation. Combine theory and practice to understand today’s most pressing public policy problems. Gain the tools needed to analyse and manage policy challenges and to formulate sustainable solutions. Check out the course catalogue.
This course introduces students to the policy process from a governance perspective. The course analyses political actors' capacity to design instruments in order to influence particular outcomes in different policy fields. Focusing on governance rather than governments, students gain a broad understanding of the relevant actors involved in the policy process. Students will also acquire an in-depth understanding of the policy instruments, implementation and evaluation, and of how to influence agendas, outcomes and reforms as future policy analysts and actors in the policy process. This course is taught as a seminar and offered with different policy focuses. Please note that available Policy Process courses vary by semester.
For examples of Policy Process courses offered in recent semesters, see the Course Catalogue.
Public policymaking relies on organisations. Public Management deals with the design and operation of organisations that matter for public policy. The course provides an understanding of how these organisations ‘tick’ internally, how they shape the design and implementation of public policies and how they can be ‘governed’. Students will be encouraged to think about solutions offered in public management debates.
Economics I provides an intensive introduction to a wide range of topics, models and theories. It is suitable for students without a background in economics, but students with prior training will also benefit. The course focuses on core topics in economics, such as supply and demand analysis, the role of markets and prices, welfare analysis, competition and monopolistic pricing, asymmetric information, externalities and government intervention, game theory and uncertainty, trade, the labour market, and political economy. The course is taught as a lecture and complemented by a lab, in which students have the chance to discuss and further elaborate on the topics examined in the lecture. Students with a strong economics background can apply for a waiver.
You can find more information in the course catalogue:
- Economics I Intro
- Advanced economics: Concepts and policy applications
(For students with a background in Economics, who are granted a waiver)
This course offers an introduction to quantitative research methods for public policy. Students will be acquainted with quantitative methods conducive to empirical policy research. No prior knowledge of statistics is assumed, and concepts are addressed both empirically and theoretically. The course is taught as a lecture, complemented by a weekly lab session in which concepts are reinforced through hands-on application using the R statistical programming language or other statistical software tools. Students with a strong background in quantitative methods can apply for a waiver.
You can find more information in the course catalogue:
This course aims to elucidate the relationship in modern societies between law and governance, i.e. between legal structures and rules, and decision-making. It is divided into three main parts: 1) foundational legal techniques and sources, such as legal interpretation and argumentation; 2) the relationship between law and policy-making (i.e. the use of law both as a constraint upon and as a vehicle for public policy); and 3) the transnationalisation of modern law, and the impact of such transnationalisation on the law’s form, structures and substance. This course is taught as a seminar.
You can find more information about this course in the Course Catalogue.
Building on Economics I, this course allows students to deepen their knowledge of economic concepts, and to apply economic tools and theories to relevant policy problems. Students are also exposed to more advanced analytical and empirical approaches. Topics covered in Economics II can include, but are not limited to, a general introduction to GDP, economic growth and development, monetary policy and central banks, and inequality. Students choose between a variety of themed Economics II courses. Each Economics II course offers a policy focus, including topics such as international economics, trade, and international monetary policy; long-term economic growth, development, and social welfare; environmental economics, natural resources and climate change; the economics of politics and political economy; and the economics of health and education.
Each course is taught as a lecture and is complemented by a lab, in which students have the chance to discuss and further elaborate the topics introduced in the lecture. Please note that available Economics II courses vary by semester.
For examples of Economics II courses offered in recent semesters, see the Course Catalogue.
During the first semester, students decide on their concentration and either attend the Statistics II course (Policy Analysis concentration) or the Management and Leadership course (Management and Organisation concentration).
This intermediate-level statistics course introduces students to an array of frequently used statistical techniques with a focus on causal identification strategies and a strong emphasis on application. This course begins with a review of OLS regression under a framework of causal inference, before covering common causal designs including, among others, instrumental variables, difference-in-differences, and regression discontinuity.
Management & leadership
This course introduces students to core management and organisation ideas, concepts, and tools. Students will examine how such ideas can be applied to manage different types of organisations dealing with public issues, such as public sector organisations, social enterprises or non-profits. The primary course material consists of real-world case studies illustrating these concepts ‘in action’. The course will examine actual organisational successes and shortcomings, demonstrate challenges faced by organisational leaders and members, assessing actions that could be taken based on careful analysis. Supplementary readings of seminal organisational works provide theoretical support to the practical applications of the concepts in case studies.
You can find more information in the course catalogue:
This course gives students the opportunity to tackle the demands of a real-world policy project, test the practical relevance of what they have been studying in other courses, and employ and refine their professional and analytical skills. Students work in teams on a real-world policy project of a public policy organisation, which is generally involved in the course as practice partner. Alternatively, the course can have the format of a policy simulation. In this case, a policy constellation or (conflict) situation is presented by the instructor with the objective of training students to apply policy skills such as negotiation, conflict management, or project management, and allowing students to develop policy solutions by means of a simulation game. For more information, see the Course Catalogue.
Please note that the available project courses vary by semester. For more information, please contact the Curricular Affairs team.
Between the first and second years of study during the summer break, students complete an internship at an institution in the public, private or non-profit sector. All internships have a minimum duration of either 6 weeks full-time, or 10-weeks part-time of at least 20 hours/ week. It is also possible for students to ask for a leave of absence for two semesters after their first year of study to complete the Professional Year programme and gather more substantial work experience.
Semester 3 + 4
Students attend two concentration electives in their second year of study, to refine and deepen their quantitative analysis or management skills in their chosen area of concentration. Concentration courses build on the foundations gained in the concentration core courses in the second semester.
- advanced statistics and econometrics courses that deepen the understanding and use of special model types, such as limited dependent variables, (basic) time series, event history, or hierarchical linear models
- data science tools, including machine learning and text-as-data methods, or web data collection
- other tools and methods for scientific inquiry and institutional or policy analysis, such as survey design, experiments, simulations and forecasting, or game theory.
Management & Organisation:
- courses on specific management tools such as human resource management, quality management, financial management, or process management
- courses on the governance and management of national, sub-national, supranational, and international policy
- courses on organisational design, organisational behaviour, strategy and leadership
Please note that available concentration electives vary by semester. For examples of electives that have been on offer in recent semesters, see the Course Catalogue.
MPP students choose four additional electives that allow them to either further specialise in their chosen area of concentration, extend their portfolio across the other MPP area of concentration, or broaden their understanding to a different field of public policy, governance or analytical tools.
Portfolio electives can be selected from the entire catalogue of electives, provided that spots are still available in the requested course. Courses are offered in a variety of fields, including:
- Data science
- Digitalisation and digital governance
- Economics and economic policies
- European affairs
- International affairs
- Normative foundations of (global) governance
- Public management and organisation
- Tools of policy analysis
Please note that available electives vary by semester. For examples of electives that have been on offer in recent semesters, see the Course Catalogue.
At the end of their third semester, students start to work on a master's thesis project supported by a master's thesis colloquium taught by their thesis advisor, a core faculty member. The master's thesis is an independent research project in which students apply the theoretical and methodological knowledge acquired in their studies to a practical policy problem. Collaboration with a practice partner is possible. The master's thesis results in a written paper of about 12,000 words which students submit at the end of their fourth semester. They can team up with other students to work on a joint thesis project.
For some examples, watch these videos on thesis projects.
What will you learn?
What courses and concentrations can you choose? What practical components are included in the degree?