The Public Policy Process

Course Description:

The world of policy and politics, governance and government can be murky with seemingly transparent and tangled connections. Who gets to define the agenda, what type of policy will come to the fore and who is accountable? This course sheds light on some of these concepts using the work of respected authors in the field. It allows learners to understand how a critical analytic and descriptive framework can help understand who is involved in the policy process, how it operates and ultimately leads to a discussion about who is accountable. The answers to these questions help lay a solid foundation for further exploration of policy analysis and formation in other courses. 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 objectives:

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

  • Understand the distinction between policy and politics; government and governance
  • Understand how the national political discourse affects policymaking and decision making
  • Understand the stages of the policy cycle and their interactions
  • Be able to think critically about the actors in the policymaking process in their own country and the influences and motivations they may have in the policy process
  • Be able to distinguish between outputs and outcomes, monitoring and evaluation
  • Understand the importance and relevance of the policy process and all stages of the policy cycle, thereby laying an important foundation for the next course on the techniques for monitoring and evaluation
  • Overall, the student should be able to critically reflect on the literature provided and be able to distil this knowledge into their own country context.


BA in Social Sciences. The course instructions and all readings are given in English. Fluency in English, both reading and writing, is essential, in both technical and common language.

Course completion 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.  

The estimated workload is 60 hours, with 10-15 hours per week and 10-15 hours per assignments/oral exam. 

ECTS equivalence: 2 

Participants will receive 2 ECTS equivalence credits and the certification will be offered through an online educational badge. 


Group based participation EUR 600,- 

Duration: 10 weeks 

You will be enrolled for 10 weeks, including 1 week to access the platform and become familiar with the materials, 4 weeks of coursework, 2 weeks to do the oral exam and 3 weeks for potential resit time.

Starting date and enrolment: 

Deadline Application  Course Start Date 
4 September  11 September 
30 October  13 November 
15 January  29 January 
1 April  15 April 
3 June  17 June 


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

Please note that we will close the group registrations at 10 participants, based on first paid first serve rule. We will identify the full groups on the application website. 


You can register for the certificate programme via the application form by clicking on the “Apply Now” button on the right side of this page.


To pay the tuition fee, please make the transfer to the following account. Upon payment, you will be registered as a student and contacted by your tutor. Please note that we need to receive the payment by the application deadline. On average, it takes 1-2 weeks between your transfer of funds and us receiving it. 

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 45320002001N 

Download the coursebook

Required Readings:

The cost of the course does not include expenses for books or hard copies of the course material. The coursebook should be ordered yourself:

Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues, Paul Cairney
Uitgever: Macmillan Education Uk, ISBN 9780230229716

All other course materials can all be downloaded by the participant him/herself.

Giulio Bordon - Course tutor

The UNU-MERIT/MGSoG online course on The Public Policy Process gives fundamental tools for understanding and analyse public policy. International mid-career professionals of the development sector gather in this course and its tutorial sessions gathering and exchanging consolidated knowledge on problem analysis, agenda setting, implementation, and evaluation. Building upon academic and theoretical backgrounds, the course aims at delving into the intricacies of the policy-making process for making clarity on our national and international institutions. As a tutor, this course allows me to compare the different settings brought by our participants and understand the strengths that robust academic frameworks have as pivotal basis for connecting the scenes and setting a common language for constructive discussions. Every tutorial is a different learning experience.
Giulio Bordon,