Public Policy Analysis

Course Description:

There is more and more need nowadays for relevant, evidence-based policy making to achieve significant change in our world. In this course, you will be introduced to the fundamentals of public policy analysis in developed and developing settings. Monitoring and evaluation of policies and projects is endorsed by international organisations, NGOs, and national governments to produce meaningful and science-based recommendations on success and shortfalls of implemented plans. It is therefore imperative for anyone interested in the realm of public policy to have a grasp of what it means to conduct rigorous evaluations.

The course will be divided into four units. The first unit will serve as an introduction to public policy analysis. In the second unit, students will look more in detail at monitoring processes and tools. Unit three and four will be entirely dedicated to the description of impact evaluations methods and their practical application in real world scenarios. The course will offer online lectures, online discussion boards, assignments, weekly tutorial meetings to discuss readings and assignments, and an oral exam at the end of the course.

Learning Goals:

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Understand the basis of public policy analysis and evidence-based public policy.
  • Understand the distinction between monitoring and evaluation.
  • Understand the different types of data used in policy evaluation and their sources.
  • Understand the different types of monitoring and its evolution through time.
  • Be able to critically assess when monitoring is preferable to impact evaluation.
  • Understand the different analytical methods used to perform impact evaluation.
  • Grasp the statistics behind experimental and quasi-experimental techniques.
  • Overall, the students should be able to critically reflect on the literature provided and be able to distill this knowledge into their own country context.


A MSc or MA degree (or equivalent) in Social Sciences.

Course completion, ECTS, edubadges and estimated workload:

The course is completed once you fulfill the course requirements and pass the assignments and the oral exam. Your coursebook will also include the explanation of resit options. Participants will receive 2 ECTS equivalence credits and the certification will be offered through an online educational badge. The estimated workload is 60 hours, including 10-15 hours per week and 10-15 hours per assignment /oral exam.


500 euro

Required Readings:

Mark Bovens, Paul ‘t Hart, Sanneke Kuipers, The Politics of Policy Evaluation, 2009.

Mariana Wongtschowski, Lisanne Oonk and Remco Mur, Monitoring and evaluation for accountability and learning, KIT Working Paper Series (2016-3)

Gertler et al., Impact Evaluation in Practice, World Bank Group (2016)

WFP Food Assistance to Refugees. Standard Project Report 2016.

Prennushi, G., Rubio, G., & Subbarao, K. (2002). Monitoring and evaluation. A sourcebook for poverty reduction strategies, 107-30. Chapter 3.

Alkire, S., & Samman, E. (2014). Mobilising the household data required to progress toward the SDGs

Tomlinson, M., Solomon, W., Singh, Y., Doherty, T., Chopra, M., Ijumba, P., … & Jackson, D. (2009). The use of mobile phones as a data collection tool: a report from a household survey in South Africa. BMC medical informatics and decision making, 9(1), 51.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation & ETHZ, NADEL Centre. What are impact evaluations?

Daniel F. Chambliss, Russell K. Schutt, Causation and Experimental Design, in Daniel F. Chambliss, Russell K. Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World: 6th edition, SAGE publishing (2018), Chapter 5, pp. 106-113.

Abhijit Banerjee, Sharon Barnhardt, Esther Duflo, Can Iron-Fortified Salt Control Anemia? Evidence from Two Experiments in Rural Bihar, Journal of Development Economics, December 18, 2017

Rubin, 1974. Estimating causal effects of treatments in randomised and non-randomised studies

Angrist, 1990. Lifetime earnings and the Vietnam era draft lottery: evidence from social security administrative records

King, G., Nielsen, R., Coberley, C., Pope, J. E., & Wells, A. (2011). Comparative effectiveness of matching methods for causal inference. Unpublished manuscript, 15, 41

WFP, Malawi, School Meals Programme (2016-2018): an evaluation, (2018).

Starting date, enrollment time and payment:

Upon a successful enrollment, every participant will start the course on an individual basis, immediately after the acquisition of the course materials. Your tutor will reach out to you to agree on a timeline.

You will be enrolled for 10 weeks, including 1 week to access the platform and become familiar with the materials, 5 weeks of coursework, 2 weeks for the oral exam and 2 weeks of potential resit time. Plus, in case you fail the course, you will have the possibility to take a resit.

In case you prefer to use the 10 weeks in a different way, please agree with your tutor during your first exchange.

To pay the tuition fee, please make the transfer to the following account. Upon payment, you will be registered as student, and contacted by your tutor. On average this takes 1-2 weeks.

Bank account no.
IBAN NL05 INGB 0657 618705
Swift or BIC code INGBNL2A
Beneficiary Maastricht University
Bank name ING Business Banking
Bank address P.O. Box 90153
5600 RE Eindhoven
The Netherlands
Payment specification your last name and

Download the coursebook

Francesco Iacoella ‐ Course tutor

In a world of information overload and "post truth", the need for rigorous policy analysis is more evident than ever. With this course you will learn the basis of public policy analysis and dig deep into the different methods used by researchers and experts worldwide to assess projects' and programmes' results. By taking our course, you will be making your first steps in acquiring a set of skills currently in high demand within governmental institutions, international organizations, and NGOs.
Francesco Iacoella, UNU-MERIT