CAS in Comparative Public Policy

The topic | Objectives | Target audience | Teaching methods

The topic

An analysis of disputed implementation processes

A public policy is made up of the body of collective decisions and actions taken by politico-administrative actors to resolve a public problem. Public policy analysis aims to explain how these public action programmes and strategies are developed and implemented, and to identify their effects on target groups and other groups affected by the relevant public problem.

The difficulties which both public and private actors face when charged with carrying out public policy requires them to develop intelligent strategies to avoid, or at least reduce, challenges to their different forms of implementation. These challenges are often seen in the face of infrastructure projects (e.g. wind farms, centres for asylum seekers, transport or military infrastructure), new environmental regulations (e.g. environmental clean-up orders, ecological compensation payments), the implementation of social security programmes (e.g. disputes concerning invalidity insurance, health assurance, housing assistance or aid for migrants and refugees), educational reforms (e.g. Switzerland’s harmos and EVM reforms) or new fiscal policies (e.g. appeals against taxation decisions or tax fraud).

Putting in place strategies to face these challenges requires a profound knowledge of the policy landscape and all the stakeholders involved in its implementation, of the rules, procedures and politico-administrative agreements which enable a more or less participative implementation of the broader project, and of the action plans behind the decisions to implement a public policy in the field. The course thus aims to provide participants with the analytical tools to identify and have a comprehensive understanding of the conditions that will enable (or hinder or even halt) the implementation of public policy in Switzerland.



  • Deepen knowledge about the constitutive elements of public policy, notably: the stages and products of a public policy (agenda setting, programming, implementation and evaluation), causality models, actors, institutional rules and the action resources;
  • Develop a fine understanding of procedures, techniques, instruments and strategies for the implementation of different sectoral policies in different cantons and communes;
  • Identify the conditions for success, as well as the factors which may hinder or halt the implementation processes for public policy;
  • Develop a capacity to design alternative, innovative and efficient strategies for implementing public policy;
  • Develop a practical mastery of the comparative approach to analysing sectoral policies and/or territorial administrative institutions (States, cantons, communes).


Target audience

This course is intended for all those involved in the formulation and implementation of public policies:

  • policy makers,
  • members of federal, cantonal and local administrations,
  • members of private organisations (foundations, associations, NGOs) consulted or in charge of implementing public programmes as part of the delegation of public tasks.

The course is also intended for members of interest representation organizations or think tanks involved in public policy development. Finally, it is also obviously intended for participants in the MAS in Public Administration (MPA)


Teaching methods

This course’s approach is based on creating a close relationship between theoretical contributions and empirical applications, notably via a short piece of research (for a seminar project) on the course’s main topic (a comparative case study of the contested or non-contested implementation of a public policy).

The course is structured so as to accompany participants as they carry out the different stages of their seminar project.

Classroom days alternate teaching theory, presentations of case studies from previous research, lectures from outside experts and discussions on the intermediate reports about participants’ coursework to date.


Qualifications and Certificates

Participants who actively and regularly attend the course, and complete the course project, will be awarded a Foundation of Continuing Education certificate of continuing education/Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Public Administration (with a specialisation in CEMAP). This corresponds to 10 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits. Participants who follow the course but decide not to complete the project work will receive a certificate of attendance (but no ECTS credits).


Registration fees

Total course registration fees come to CHF 3,900 (including all documentation), which should be paid on receipt of the invoice, and by the start of the course at the latest.
A discount of 5%, up to a maximum of CHF 500 per course, is available to any IDHEAP alumni—holding an MPA, DAS or CEMAP, an IDHEAP PhD or a Master’s in PMP—who wish to follow a CAS course or a Seminar for Specialist and Executives organised by IDHEAP. This reduction does not apply to participants in the DAS who subsequently wish to follow the MPA course. Any decision to withdraw from the course must be made in writing. If withdrawal from the course is announced between 21 and ten days prior to its commencement, 50% of the registration fee will remain due. If withdrawal from the course is announced less than ten days before its commencement, the entire registration fee is due. The number of places being limited, registrations will be considered on the basis of the date of receipt.


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Prof. Stéphane Nahrath
Quartier UNIL-Mouline
Bâtiment IDHEAP
CH-1015 Lausanne
+41 21 692 69 40

Assistant : Nicolas Pauchard
+41 21 692 68 45

Rue de la Mouline 28 - CH-1022 Chavannes-près-Renens
Tel. +41 21 692 68 00
Fax +41 21 692 68 09