Ethics and Public Policy

Course Description: 

Mandatory for One-year MAPP students, Elective for Mundus Mapp students.

ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY is designed to provoke critical thinking on value judgements underlying decision-making and public policy practices in various settings. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on applied ethics, politics and public management for examining contemporary problems in public affairs. Rather than moral philosophy per se, the focus is on the practical responsibilities of policy makers and public officials in the context of the, at times, competing obligations that guide their actions. The course will help students identify and analyse these ethical aspects in policy making, and familiarise them with some of the practical measures available for promoting integrity in public institutions, thus introducing the fundamentals of ethics management.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course will help students identify and analyse ethical aspects in policy making through moral reasoning, and familiarise them with some of the practical measures available for promoting integrity in public institutions. A key objective of the course is to enhance participants’ ability to identify and critically and constructively engage with normative issues contemporary public managers and policy makers face. Through case study discussions, presentations, and research papers the course will also develop students’ analytical and written and oral argumentation skills.


Seminar participation 20%

Seminar attendance, demonstration of engagement with the assigned readings, active and informed participation showing analytical insight.

Seminar presentation 30%

Course participants will sign up for a presentation in week 1. The presentation, prepared by teams of students, will rely on and refer to (but not simply summarise) the readings assigned for the class, and utilise/apply them for/to a case/example of the students’ choice. Normally a presentation should take no more than 20 minutes (and if students anticipate exceeding this, the teaching assistant/instructor should be consulted in advance). The main aim of the presentation is to start a discussion; the presenters will therefore be expected to prepare an outline or ppt presentation and questions for classroom discussion. Presentations are assessed on the clarity, quality and originality of arguments, evidence of additional readings/research, the degree to which they generate comments and questions, and time keeping. NOTE: Presenters are required to submit their presentation outline or the draft presentation both to the teaching assistant and the instructor 3 days in advance of the class, so that any necessary adjustments can be negotiated. For advice or feedback please contact the teaching assistant in the first instance. The final versions of the presentation should also be sent to the TA and the instructor for uploading to the e-learning platform.

Final paper 50% A final research paper of 3,000 words is to be submitted by the end of the course. The paper can either address a general question related to a class discussion (please do not simply summarise the class discussion!) or apply insights from the literature to a case which sheds light on an ethical issue or dilemma as manifested in a specific situation. A number of general questions are listed below for each seminar; however students are encouraged to identify an original research question. Please note that the paper and the presentation are separate assignments: the topic of the presentation should not also be the topic of the paper.