PLCY 800 (Fall) is the first part of a two-semester sequence with two broad objectives: (1) to introduce the basic principles and techniques of policy analysis and (2) to examine a series of current public policy issues through readings, lectures, group work, major projects, and guest speakers. Using a ‘learning by doing’ process, we focus on practical aspects of policy analysis while building on the theoretical foundations provided by MPP core courses in economics, political science, and research methods. The course aims to help you think critically about policy analysis, to have you develop policy analysis skills using current policy issues as examples and to assist you to effectively communicate policy analysis in forms useful to decision makers.

Goals and Objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Set out and define a policy problem
  • Use data, research and information to analyze a problem including its causes
  • Identify relevant societal and governmental objectives
  • Determine appropriate policy options
  • Use research and data to forecast impacts of policy options
  • Analyze policy options on a comparative basis
  • Rank policy options and select the best alternative
  • Communicate (written and orally) the results of policy analysis to decision makers and key stakeholders;
  • Prepare policy briefs to: Provide in-depth information to inform knowledgeable people; Provide information, analysis, and advice for decision makers; Help you get a job (writing a policy brief is a common part of the application process


Course Format and Evaluation

Class sessions combine lectures, discussion, class exercises, presentations, and interactive work.  A high level of student participation is essential for successful completion of this course.  There are three types of assignments for this course:

  • Graded, individual work -This is typically in the form of policy memos and reports that would be delivered by a policy analyst.
  • Graded group work - Where the grade represents the document/presentation provided by the group (all get the same grade for the content, however there may be individual grades for participation in the group). The major group project is the BC Priorities Project where groups will engage in a current policy problem of interest to an external agency.
  • Class engagement and participation - Reflects how engaged you are in class lectures and discussions. Includes keeping up with assigned readings and actively participating in a respectful and engaged manner in class including in class exercises.