Success and Failure of European Policy Implementation

ladpu2055  2023-2024  Louvain-la-Neuve

Success and Failure of European Policy Implementation
5.00 credits
30.0 h
Aubin David; Brans Marleen; Brenton Scott (compensates Brans Marleen);
Main themes
The first sessions will introduce an analysis framework to public policies, as well as present the comparative method. Then, a lecture will introduce the major features of theory. It could also introduce the selected theme of the year In a third part, particular theoretical aspects of this year's object will be submitted to a comparative analysis of public policies. This work will be presented by the students and discussed in regards to weekly readings. Each session combines oral presentations in class and a discussion animated by the students through the oral presentation of weekly readings. The students will have to read a syllabus and a series of texts before each ses-sion.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 Objectives for the student : - learn to manipulate theory helping in the understanding of major issues related to public policies in the world ; - master the different steps of a compared analysis of public policies ; - critically discuss a range of public policies in different sectors and countries ; - be aware of the questions and issues of multi-level governance.
The general question that is addressed in this course is:
What explains similarities and differences in the member states’ implementation of European policies? What explains the success and failure of European policy implementation? Can we find the answers in different cultures, institutions, politics, or a mix of all these variables?
The first part of the course consists of a series of lectures that tackle the method of comparing public policies cross-nationally from a theoretical point of view. Particular attention is given to the similarities and differences of public policies across Europe, the impact of European policies, and the explanation of laggards’ and forerunners’ positions in domestic policy implementation. These themes are addressed in four different sessions:
  • Doing research on public policy
  • Comparison and its methodological traps
  • What has been compared?
  • Implementation of European Policies: Europeanization and Implementation Theory
During the second part, the students experience the possibilities and limitations of the method in practice. Students have to write, present, and discuss a paper in which the domestic implementation of a European public policy is compared cross-nationally.
Throughout this course the students acquire the following knowledge, skills and attitudes:
  • Students can describe the disciplinary policy analytical knowledge from a comparative perspective and use that knowledge to make their own scientific contribution.
  • Students can critically describe and explain the implementation and evaluation of public policies from a scientific perspective.
  • Students can explain and apply the method of comparing public policies cross-nationally.
  • Students can describe the possibilities and the limitations of comparative methods.
  • Students can identify the methodological tools and instruments to research similarities and differences among countries.
  • Students can apply comparative public policy approaches to similarities and differences in the implementation of European policies.
  • Students can identify the different actors and levels of governance involved in the implementation of European policies.
  • Students can take the processes of power acquisition into account when analysing the structures and processes through which policy in Europe is formed and implemented.
  • Students have a critical attitude towards comparative methods.
  • Students can independently and in team plan an assignment, execute it, meet deadlines and make a constructive contribution to a common result.
  • Students can communicate, clearly and unambiguously, their analysis and rationale underpinning these, by giving a presentation and writing a scientific paper.
  • Students can indicate and evaluate the success and failure of policy implementation of European Directives
  • Students can make policy recommendations on the basis of their research.
These aims are communicated to the students at the beginning of the semester.
Teaching methods
The teaching methods are based on critical, informed, and interactive seminars. Effective collaboration is fundamental and underpins the learning activities.
Students are advised to read the course materials in advance so they can actively participate during classes, which is a course requirement (therefore full attendance is necessary).
This is a joint course with KU Leuven and there is one cohort rather than separate UCL and KUL groups. Students can improve their work by actively making use of question and answer sessions with the respective didactic team, and of peer review session. Each group has to present its paper during a final session in May, in which they also discuss another group’s paper. Therefore a high-level of English (or a genuine willingness to improve English-language skills through practice throughout the course) is required as it is the only common language of all participants.
Evaluation methods
Characteristics of the evaluation
The exam consists of writing, presenting, and discussing a paper in which they analyse the success and failure of the domestic implementation of a European public policy is compared cross-nationally. Students have to write and present this paper in group. The evaluation for this course consists of five partial evaluations:
  • A group paper
  • A group presentation
  • A group discussion of another paper
  • Participation and attendance during contact hours
  • Peer assessment
The submission deadline and other deadlines are decided by the lecturer(s) and communicated via the course webpage on Moodle or the KU Leuven portal (which in that case UCLouvain will receive access).
Determination of the end result          
The course is evaluated by the lecturer(s), as communicated via Moodle (or KU Leuven portal) and in compliance with the examination regulations of both institutions (with UCLouvain regulations taking precedence). The result is calculated and communicated as an integral number out of 20.
The final result is a weighted number, defined as follows:
  • Group paper and individual contribution to that paper: 15/20
  • Individually assessed group presentation: 2/20
  • Attendance during contact hours and contributions to discussions: 3/20
The grades for this course are given according to the quality of the paper, the quality of the intermediate peer evaluation, the quality of the presentation, the quality of the critical discussion of another group’s paper, and participation and attendance during contact hours. The grades can also differ based on a peer assessment. Further requirements are specified during the lectures, and in separate documents on the electronic learning platforms.
All deadlines must be respected. Negotiation about any deviation is impossible. In case of any exceptional circumstances, students are required to contact the relevant university contacts prior to the respective deadline. If (one of) the deadline(s) is not met, the complete course will be evaluated as a ‘not taken’ (NA) unless a new submission deadline has been determined due to exceptional circumstances.
If the student does not participate in one (or more) out of several partial evaluations of the course, the student receives a ‘not taken’ (NA) for the complete course.
Students are fully responsible for submitting papers and assignments free of fraud and plagiarism ( and are requested to comply with the University’s relevant regulations. Plagiarism will be sanctioned according to these regulations.
Third examination session
Students who fail this course get a second examination chance during the third examination period. The format of the evaluation may be different from the first examination format. The second examination chance consists of an individual assignment, i.e. a revised version of the group paper as well as a discussant note. A presentation is not required. Achieved results for the peer assessment (individual contribution to the paper) will no longer be taken into account. The concrete modalities for the third examination period are communicated at the beginning of July via Moodle (or KU Leuven portal).
Other information
PLEASE NOTE: This course is taught solely in English and delivered entirely at the KU Leuven Brussels campus, which is close to Brussels-Central station.
Online resources
The following course materials are used during this course:
  • Slides & hand-outs:
    Slides are used in each session of the course, made available via Moodle (or KU Leuven portal). Students are advised to take notes during the lectures.
  • Compulsory readings:
    A reader, made available via Moodle (or KU Leuven portal)..  
  • Recommended readings:
    A list of recommended readings is included in the course outline, made available via Moodle (or KU Leuven portal)..
  • Extra course documents:
    During class, additional documents may be distributed to the students.
Available in the official course guide prior to the quadrimester.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Master [120] in Public Administration

Master [120] in Political Sciences: General