MSc Public Governance

Program and courses Public Governance: Public Administration, Economics and Law

You start your Master’s with getting to know your fellow students and teachers at a festive kick-off event. Since the program requires a lot of group work and collaboration, you will be spending a lot of time with these people in the year to come. In the first months we will cover the governance basics, theoretically as practically, through the core courses. After that you can specialize and become an expert by choosing between the four themes, which include an elective and/or an internship. You will conclude the program with your Master's thesis.

Program structure

This one-year program consists of 60 credits (ECTS):

  • 6 core courses (36 ECTS)
  • 1 elective theme course or internship (6 ECTS) related to the theme of your choice
  • Master's Thesis: seminar and thesis (18 ECTS)

Main intake moment: end of August. Secondary intake: end of January. You will start with second semester courses, together with students that have started in August!

The Curriculum: Core Courses 2nd SEMESTER 1st SEMESTER Good Governance (6 ) Governance & Law (6) Governance & Economics ( 6) Governance & Politics (6) Governance Clinic ( 6) Master s Thesis ( 12) Public Entrepreneurship & Strategy ( 6) Elective ( 6) Thesis Seminar ( 6) Internship ( 6) 4th Block ( Apr June ) 3 rd Block ( Feb Mar ) 1 st Block (Aug Oct)2 nd Block (Nov Jan )

Program content

Core courses (36 ECTS)

Fall semester (End of August - January)

Core courses (6 courses)

You will follow 6 core courses (36 ECTS)

  • Good Governance: Conceptualizations and Manifestations 
    Learn to reflect on and analyze key issues of good governance, such as accountability, equality and non-discrimination, and effectiveness 
  • Governance and Politics: Democratic Governance & Innovation Through a Comparative Lens 
    Learn to compare and evaluate the mechanisms and results of democratic governance and politics, and innovations therein 
  • Governance Clinic: From Challenge to Strategy  
    Learn to tackle, as part of a team, a real-world governance challenge commissioned by a real-life client 
  • Governance and Economics: New Approaches to Economic Performance and Social Well-Being 
    Learn to frame key socio-economic ideas in a new perspective, focused on social well-being, and apply these ideas to real-world policymaking 
  • Governance and Law: Understanding Regulatory Regimes and Risk Regulation 
    Learn to compare and assess the role of regulation in the context of the promotion of security and justice, and the prevention of risks  
  • Public Entrepreneurship and Strategy 
    Learn to detect and assess key issues of strategic public management

Elective theme course or internship (6 ECTS)

The MSc Public Governance program structure allows you to specialize in one of the four themes below, among others by choosing a particular Governance Clinic project, but also by selecting a specific elective, and writing your Master’s thesis about this theme.

  • You can also opt to do an internship instead of (or in addition to) an elective. 
  • It is recommended to take the elective or do the internship in the second semester, but it is also possible to do so in the first semester, depending on when the specific elective is offered, or when there is an opportunity for an internship. 

The MSc Public Governance offers 4 themes, coordinated by leading experts on the theme.

A. Governing the Transition to a Sustainable Society

The role of government in addressing climate change and energy transition has been rapidly expanding; more than ever, sustainability has become a critical topic in the realm of public governance. This theme will help you specialize in how coalitions and networks are built among a diverse set of actors, beyond government, and across boundaries, why it still often is difficult to leverage the necessary capacity and support, and what kind of governance models and practices ‘work’ in organizing climate action, accelerating the energy transition, and achieving sustainable development and growth.

Leading expert: Professor Martijn Groenleer

This theme offers electives like:

  • Climate Change Law
  • Seminar Environmental and Resource Economics
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship 

In this short video Professor Martijn Groenleer will tell you more about the challenges of the transition to a sustainable society: 'Governing the Energy Transition' (video - 3.34 min). 

B. Justice, Security, and the Governance of Risks

In an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world, the governance of risks, security and the justice sector is more than ever of importance to ensure the effectiveness and legitimacy of governance systems worldwide. This theme will help you specialize in current issues of safety and risk, both from a regulatory and an organizational perspective, the management and governance of the justice sector in relation to safeguarding the rule of law, as well as governance challenges prompted by systems failure and crises.

Leading expert: Professor Stavros Zouridis

This theme offers electives like:

  • Migration and the Rule of Law
  • Competition and Market Risks
  • The EU and Global Environmental Risks

Professor Stavros Zouridis brings a current topic under discussion in this short video: 'Why the Rule of Law has failed in Europe' (video - 5:23 min). 

C. Governance for Health, Education, and Welfare

The foundation for a prosperous, fair, and equal society requires good quality provision of health, education, and welfare, which however is increasingly challenging because of developments such as changing expectations and needs of citizens, growing internationalization and interconnectedness, and increasing mobility and flexibility. This theme will help you specialize in the governance responses from public as well as private and non-profit parties to face and adapt to 21st century challenges, and build robust and resilient health, education and welfare systems.

Leading expert: Professor Ton Wilthagen

This theme offers electives like:

  • Hybrid Organizations
  • Social Policy and Social Risks
  • Health & Policy
D. Democratic Governance and Innovation

In recent decades, developments such as the rise of populism, the weakening of traditional ideologies, the polarization and personalization of politics, and the decreasing trust in representative democracy have all put strong pressure on democracies across the globe and systems of democratic governance to change and innovate. This theme will help you specialize in contemporary models and practices of democratic change and innovation, from the local to the global, and what these models and practices entail for citizens, politicians and governance professionals.

Leading Expert: Professor Frank Hendriks

This theme offers electives like:

  • Politics and Society in Comparative Perspective 
  • Populism and Active Citizenship 
  • The social structure of Western societies

In this short video Professor Frank Hendriks will elaborate on the topic Democratic Governance and Innovation:  'Public Governance and the Referendum'(video - 4:58 min). 

Master's thesis (18 ECTS)

Spring semester (End of January - June)

Master’s Thesis: seminar and thesis

In the second semester you write your Master's Thesis:

  • Master's Thesis Seminar (6 ECTS)

The Master’s thesis seminar will help you develop a sound and solid research proposal.  You are supervised through so-called thesis circles with other students writing their thesis as part of the same track. When you start in February you have the unique choice to write your thesis in your first semester following successful completion of the Master Thesis Seminar, but may also choose to write your thesis in the Fall Semester (note that the Master’s thesis seminar is only offered in the Spring semester).

  • Master's Thesis (12 ECTS)

Examples of thesis subjects are:

  • Populist communication: a comparative analysis of how political parties in the Netherlands use twitter to spread their message
  • The failure of the European Migration Policy: explaining the policy’s lack of effectiveness by applying criteria for good regulation
  • Institutional inertia in sustainability transitions: analyzing the ‘greening’ of the Dutch agricultural sector as part of the Common Agricultural Policy framework
  • Governing youth unemployment: a qualitative study of the network effectiveness of the youth unemployment approach

You will find a detailed description of the courses and required literature in our course catalog.

Go to the course descriptions


Please note: programs are subject to change. We advise you to look up the current program in OSIRIS Student at the start of the year.


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Short overview of Public Governance; Public Administration, Economics and Law

Learn to tackle complex societal challenges through innovation and change in public governance, on a local, regional, national, European, and global level.

  • You are offered a comparative, transnational perspective on public governance through insights and lessons learned from other countries, as well as cities and regions, or global and European institutions.
  • To co-create innovative governance solutions, you are provided with a strong theoretical and conceptual foundation in politics, economics, and law, on which close links to the practice of public governance are built.
  • To make solid analyses and come up with robust governance strategies, you are trained in using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, as well as key 21st century (soft) skills.

Interested in the MSc Public Governance? Are you...

  • Motivated to learn about the governance of complex societal challenges?

  • Eager to combine theory with practice in innovative solutions?

  • Ready to step out of your comfort zone and train essential methods and (soft)skills?

Then check your eligibility and see if this program is a good fit for you!