Courses

The MPA teaches students how to bring broader academic knowledge and perspectives to bear on practical questions of local government administration. Throughout the MPA curriculum, there is a dual focus on academic training and broad-based professional skills development. The interactive teaching methods in the MPA and the mix of full- and part-time cohorts across all courses create natural opportunities for collaboration and community-building among students in the program.

For course progression planning visit the Course Planning page.

Fall 2023 Classes

PA 9901 - Advanced Local Government

Objectives:

This course provides an introduction to the structures, functions, and financing of local government in Canada. The focus is on Ontario, but students will also learn about the history of local government in Canada, the United States, and Western Europe. Through surveys of relevant academic literature, student presentations, and class discussions, students will develop views on the appropriate role for local governments in governing Canadian communities.

Main topics:

Systems of local government; historical ideological movements; central-local relations; special purpose bodies; annexation; amalgamation; regional government; fragmentation; council-staff relations; budgeting and finance; property tax.

PA 9903 - Organizational Behaviour in a Local Government Environment

Objectives:

This course introduces students to select aspects of the academic literature on organizational behaviour. Students will learn how the behaviour of people in organizations relates to individual, group, organizational, and societal outcomes. They will apply an organizational lens to help them better understand the challenges and opportunities of local government administration.

Main topics:

Organizational behaviour and local administration; organizational structure; leadership; trust; organizational culture; groups and teamwork; conflict; communication; motivation, stress, and productivity; organizational change; power and privilege; diversity and inequality; human resources management.

PA 9914 - Research Design and Methods

Objectives:

This course is designed to introduce students to the research process. The principles and techniques covered here will be useful both for academic work (including the MPA Research Report) and for applied administrative and policy research. As well, it is designed to help students critically evaluate research encountered in academic work and on the job.

Main topics:

Research methods - the research process, operationalization, survey and questionnaire design, the logic of experimentation, qualitative techniques. Statistics - simple descriptive statistics, estimation and inference, measures of association, analysis of variance, regression and multiple regression.

PA 9915 - Program Evaluation

Objectives:

The purpose of the course is to familiarize students with the major issues in the fields of program and policy evaluation. Students will develop an understanding of the theoretical frameworks used for evaluative research, validity issues in evaluative research, and the multi-methods, theory-driven approach to evaluation. The course reviews the process through which policies and programs are considered, developed, approved, implemented and evaluated. Evaluation research is of increasing relevance in an era where economy, efficiency and effectiveness are integral to the delivery of public sector services.

Main topics:

Types of evaluation, including formative, process and summative evaluation, economic evaluation, and performance measurement; evaluation design and delivery in a climate of evolving citizen and political expectations; relevant externalities such as professional judgment, ethics and objectivity, public expectations, and political sensitivities.

PA 9916 - Theories of Public Administration

Objectives:

This course introduces students to selected elements of the academic literature on theories of public administration in modernity. Students will learn how to use theory-based critical analysis in the study and in the practice of public administration. Source materials for the course and classroom discussions will provide students with the opportunity to learn to analyze current and emerging issues in local government administration through a theoretical lens.

Main topics:

Public administration in the era of modernity; local government and public administration in a global economy; modernity, rationality and bureaucracy; the nature of theory and the role of theory in public administration; Weber and the classic model of bureaucracy; New Public Management; post-modern public administration; theories of elitism, corporatism, democracy and pluralism; Marxist and neo-Marxist theory; public administration in a multi-level governance model.

Winter 2024 Classes

PA 9902 - The Policy Process in Local Government

Objectives:

This course introduces students to selected aspects of the academic literature on the making of public policy. Students will learn how to apply theories and concepts from the public policy literature to Canadian local governments. Using case studies, students will learn how to determine the main factors that cause different kinds of local public policy outcomes in different circumstances.

Main topics:

The external and institutional contexts of municipal policymaking; the stages of the policy cycle, with an emphasis on the "multiple streams" approach to understanding the policy process, including problem definition, agenda-setting, policy diffusion, public engagement, instrument choice, implementation, and evaluation.

Prerequisite: You must take course PA9901 before taking this course.

PA 9904 - Local Government Management/Administration

Objectives:

Drawing upon theories and research findings in public administration and management, this course examines administrative approaches, issues, and debates arising in local government administration. Students will learn how the complex and unstable environment of public sector organizations produces both challenges and opportunities for public sector managers and will apply insights from the management and public administration literatures to real-world local government settings. 

Main topics:

Differences between public and private administration; management models and approaches; the leadership role of the CAO; council-staff relations; managing in a unionized environment; recruitment, onboarding, succession planning; change management; performance measurement and management; ethics and values; citizen and community engagement; partnerships and contracting out; implementation and service delivery.

Prerequisite: You must take course PA9903 before taking this course.

PA 9911 - Municipal Law

Objectives:

This course provides students with a general overview of municipal law. Students will be introduced to the field through a review of legislation and cases related to a selection of municipal law topics. The goal is for students to learn how to apply the law to legal issues that tend to arise for municipal officers, administrators and employees. The course is organized to provide students with opportunities to participate in exercises and examine issues leaving them with a better understanding of how the law works and how to deal with legal issues that may arise for local government administrators.

Main topics:

An introduction to law in Canada, constitutional and statutory framework for municipal corporations, municipal practices and procedures, municipal decisions, land use planning law in Ontario, and special topics in municipal and land use planning law.

PA 9912 - Financial Management

Objectives:

This course focuses on the tools and understanding that public managers in local government require to effectively manage public resources in the service of good public policy. Students will develop an understanding of the basic elements of public sector financial management, and learn to appreciate how financial considerations play a role in virtually every local government activity.

Main topics:

The financial planning cycle of local government and its impacts on policymaking; understanding and interpreting financial information (basic accounting principles, financial statements); sound financial management in local government (resource allocation, effective budget management, management control); elements of financial accountability (reporting, internal and external oversight).

PA 9913 - Local Economic Development

Objectives:

This course offers a critical examination into the theory, practice, and politics of contemporary local economic development in Canadian municipalities.

Main topics:

Principles of local economics, theories of urban and local economic development, politics of local economic development, role of business and non-state actors, global forces affecting local economic development, intergovernmental dynamics of economic development, new models and collaborative approaches to economic development.

Summer 2024 Classes

PA 9901 - Advanced Local Government

Objectives:

This course provides an introduction to the structures, functions, and financing of local government in Canada. The focus is on Ontario, but students will also learn about the history of local government in Canada, the United States, and Western Europe. Through surveys of relevant academic literature, student presentations, and class discussions, students will develop views on the appropriate role for local governments in governing Canadian communities.

Main topics:

Systems of local government; historical ideological movements; central-local relations; special purpose bodies; annexation; amalgamation; regional government; fragmentation; council-staff relations; budgeting and finance; property tax.

PA 9902 - The Policy Process in Local Government

Objectives:

This course introduces students to selected aspects of the academic literature on the making of public policy. Students will learn how to apply theories and concepts from the public policy literature to Canadian local governments. Using case studies, students will learn how to determine the main factors that cause different kinds of local public policy outcomes in different circumstances.

Main topics:

The stages of the policy-making process; the “multiple streams” approach to the understanding of the policy process; the role of “social forces”, including analytical approaches that apply especially at the local level, such as “community power”, pluralism, non-decision-making, local governments as “growth machines”, regime theory and multilevel governance.

PA 9903 - Organizational Behaviour in a Local Government Environment

Objectives:

This course introduces students to select aspects of the academic literature on organizational behaviour. Students will learn how the behaviour of people in organizations relates to individual, group, organizational, and societal outcomes. They will apply an organizational lens to help them better understand the challenges and opportunities of local government administration.

Main topics:

Organizational behaviour and local administration; organizational structure; leadership; trust; organizational culture; groups and teamwork; conflict; communication; motivation, stress, and productivity; organizational change; power and privilege; diversity and inequality; human resources management. .

PA 9904 - Local Government Management/Administration

Objectives:

Drawing upon theories and research findings in public administration and management, this course examines administrative approaches, issues, and debates arising in local government administration. Students will learn how the complex and unstable environment of public sector organizations produces both challenges and opportunities for public sector managers and will apply insights from the management and public administration literatures to real-world local government settings.

Main topics:

Differences between public and private administration; management models and approaches; the leadership role of the CAO; council-staff relations; managing in a unionized environment; recruitment, onboarding, succession planning; change management; performance measurement and management; ethics and values; citizen and community engagement; partnerships and contracting out; implementation and service delivery.

Prerequisite: You must take course PA9903 before taking this course.

PA 9917: Issues in Local Government

Objectives:

This is the capstone course in the MPA program. The objectives are two-fold. First, the course provides a venue for students to review and apply what they have learned in other courses, by discussing a selection of topics related to local government. Second, the course allows students to get constructive critical feedback on their MPA research projects in progress.

Main topics:

In this course, students discuss and debate a selection issues in local government topics. Issues covered differ from year to year, depending in part on the research interests of current students. Issues are introduced by the instructor, by guest presenters, and by students. The course also features a review and discussion of research methods as they relate to the students’ MPA research projects.

PA 9923: Strategic Planning and Management

Objectives:

The purpose of this course is to explore the theoretical ideas and practical challenges involved in planning and managing strategically in local government. Its aim is to investigate organization performance and the role of ‘strategy’ in creating public value. Strategic management concepts and planning techniques and processes will be viewed from an organizational, political and community context. The course will challenge the MPA student to think critically about ‘strategy formation’ in public sector management.

Main topics:

Strategic planning and management in local government; the strategic management framework & process; linking strategy to performance; tools and techniques of strategic planning and management.

Note: Full-day courses will have breaks, including one for lunch.



Accessibility

Please contact polisci@uwo.ca if you require any information in plain text format, or if any other accommodation can make the course material and/or physical space accessible to you.