Policy Lab

  • Period 4.
  • Mandatory course.


The final project for PPE in Practice IV is the policy brief. Students will work in groups to produce this brief. The brief must examine all relevant facets of a policy question. Students must interview those who will be impacted by the proposed policies, and discuss the practicality of the policies they propose. The briefs must be empirically informed and ethically grounded. In order to achieve these goals, students will need to interact with a wide range of practitioners in government, NGOs and other leadership positions, as well as stakeholders in the policy outcomes. The briefs must integrate this information with a clear argumentative structure and a concise policy recommendation.
The Policy Lab provides, in a sense, a seminar environment that relates specially to this group project. Early sessions will be devoted to project planning. Student groups will outline a particular problem that forms the topic of their policy brief, will identify the interviews, arguments, empirical data, and related information that must be obtained, and will produce a briefing proposal, which they will present to others in their lab. Here their peers and the lecturers will provide feedback and guidance on their proposal. In addition each group will have another group specially assigned to provide written feedback on the project proposal. Intermediate sessions of the Policy L ab will be devoted to data collection, exploration and writing. During these sessions students will meet to test arguments with others, and will share networking contacts between groups. During the final sessions of the Policy L ab, students will present first drafts of their briefing papers to their peers. Similar to the proposal stage, students and lecturers will provide feedback and another student group will be selected to provide specific written feedback on the draft.
Although the policy lab gives students a seminar-like environment for the briefing project, it also provides much more than this. It encourages students to collaborate, both within their group and with other groups. It allows for the development of presentational, critical, and rhetorical skills within a practical environment. And, perhaps most importantly, it provides a forum for students to exchange information and resources gleaned from environments beyond the academic setting. This theory-practice exchange is a significant part of what makes the Policy L ab a unique learning experience for students in the final stages of the PPE programme.

The Policy Lab is intended as a complement to PPE in Practice IV. The policy brief that students develop in the Lab is used to evaluate the PiP IV course. The Lab itself is assessed on a pass-fail basis. In order to pass the course, students must complete 5 lab requirements:

  1. Complete a project proposal containing a question summary and schedule outline.
  2. Provide written feedback on another group’s project proposal.
  3. Present, with their group, a first draft of the policy briefing.
  4. Provide written feedback on another group’s draft briefing.
  5. Attend 80% of Policy Lab meetings.


After completing the Policy L ab and policy brief students will have obtained the skills to

  • Engage in effective and efficient project management
  • Present their original research in verbal and written forms
  • Use peer input to modify and improve their arguments
  • Interact with and translate between applied and theoretical environments
Integrative/other courses
Course Information
  • Credit:6 ECTS
Dr. Ben Ferguson

Related Courses