Master of Public Policy   Master of Data Science for Public Policy  

The policy process: Education, labour markets and the knowledge economy

Societies are changing at a seemingly unprecedented rate, a development that demands new public policies promoting equality and prosperity for all. This course introduces students to the foundations of public policy, policy analysis and the policy process, with a broad (but not exclusive) thematic focus on education, skill formation and labor markets in increasingly knowledge-based economies. Students will learn about the rationale of policy analysis as a multidisciplinary field, the four perspectives on the policy process (rational, political, cultural and institutional), as well as the effect of institutions and actors on policymaking.

The course has three main components. First of all, students will explore relevant theories for understanding and classifying public policies: These theories include the policy cycle, experimentalist governance, welfare states, varieties of capitalism and trajectories of liberalisation. Secondly, students will learn methods for analysing public policies, such as process tracing, strategies for institutional change, discourse analysis and comparative case studies. Thirdly, students will apply the theories and methods to a range of empirical cases in and outside of Europe.

By combining these three components throughout the course, students will be equipped to connect the concepts with practical applications and unpack complex policy processes. The course acquaints them with the tools and skills to answer questions such as: How are policy problems defined and put on the political agenda? Who are the relevant actors, and how do they interact? What role does the institutional context play? Why are some issues tackled differently in non-Western welfare states? How are knowledge capitalism and the digital platform economy changing skill formation and jobs? The course enables students to analyse key factors that lie at the heart of policymaking and to transfer the respective concepts and methods to other, related policy fields.

This course is for 1st year MPP and MDS students only.


  • Lukas Graf , Assistant Professor of Educational Governance