Online Course on Water and Environmental Policy Analysis

Learn to apply a system’s perspective on environmental and water policy, using problem-structuring methods such as systems analysis, actor analysis and scenarios.

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For whom?

This course is suitable for students and professionals of different education backgrounds who want to understand and apply the process and tools for policy analysis. An active participation and submission of a final assignment are needed to pass the course.


Minimum a Bachelor's degree in environmental, social or engineering sciences.

Basic proficiency in word processing and drawing software (e.g. Microsoft Office, Open Office, Libre Office or Free Office).

Dates, Fee, ECTS

Start: 05 September 2022
End: 13 January 2023
ECTS credit points: 5
Deadline IHE application: 04 September 2022 - 23.59 (CET)
Course fee: € 1065

VAT is not included in the course fee

Learning objectives

Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
  1. Structure complex policy problems.
  2. Apply, meaningfully and coherently, three types of methods for rational-analytical problem exploration: system analysis (including analysis of objectives and initial problem demarcation), Actor analysis, and Future Scenarios.
  3. Reflect on the possible roles of a policy analyst and discuss which role(s) a policy analyst can effectively fulfil in different situations to support individuals or organisations facing a complex policy problem.
  4. Set up an agenda, based on previous problem exploration, for relevant, subsequent research activities to inform policy decisions.
  5. Synthesize in an issue paper the results of a broad, exploratory problem analysis, including the proposal for meaningful, subsequent policy research.

The course teaches participants to design a policy analysis process to address complex policy problems in a multi-actor setting. The course enables participants to reflect on the roles of policy analysis in decision-making, and offers hands-on practice with methods to structure complex problems to make them tractable for meaningful analysis. Participants will be guided on the application of theory and methods to a specific policy problem and on the creation of a policy issue paper to synthesize the results. The tools and methods taught during the course are especially useful to tackle complex problems in multi-actor settings.

The topics of the course include:

  • Policy analysis and decision-making
  • Problem formulation and demarcation
  • Causal diagrams and system analysis
  • Actor network analysis, and
  • Scenario analysis.
  • Policy analysis designs, with an emphasis on policy research agendas to support evidence-based decision-making.
  • Communication of findings through an issue paper.


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