Atlas Courses

Atlas CoursesSets of normed topics that could be taught in a one-semester or half-semester course

Once normed topics have been developed (largely from course material used in existing MPP and MPA programs) a relatively straightforward process can be used to construct Atlas course syllabi in the form of coherent sets of normed topics, where each normed topic can be taught in one course-week of instruction (3 hours in-class and 7 hour outside-class). Atlas syllabi could be constructed for instructional units of any length, for example 12-topic courses or 6-topic modules.

The table below illustrates how the 120 core topics could be covered with eight 12-week courses and the four 6-week modules (i.e., the equivalent of a total of 10 one-semester courses).

Atlas core courses
(* = ready to use)

Atlas100 Governance and Institutions*

Atlas101 Policy Analysis and Process

Atlas102 Economic Analysis*

Atlas103M Macroeconomic Policy

Atlas104 Quantitative Methods*

Atlas105 Social, Environmental, and Global Context

Atlas206 Internship Reading*

Atlas106M Public Financial Management

Atlas107 Implementation and Delivery

Atlas108 Analytic Methods and Evaluation

Atlas109 Leadership and Communication*

Atlas111M Ethics

Atlas112M Management of Human, Information, and Technology Resources

The same approach can be used for non-core topics. To date, one such course has been partially developed.

Atlas non-core courses

Atlas219 Higher Education Policy

Atlas courses and curriculum development

Atlas syllabi have a number of potentially attractive features for course development and quality assurance:

  • They draw from material in actual courses being taught in MPP/MPA Programs.
  • They include learning outcomes and assessment techniques, since they are assembled from normed topics which, by definition, include these elements (see Describing Learning Outcomes).
  • They contain links to definitions of all the key concepts used in the topics.
  • They reflect a normed amount of content: 120 hours of study for a 12-topic course based on the norm of 10 hours for each topic.
  • They are relatively easy modularize, by for example, selecting half the topics from a 12-topic Atlas course to create an outline for a 6-topic module or combining outlines from two 6-topic modules to create the syllabus for a 12-topic course. This ease of modularization is a function of the relatively self-contained nature of normed topics.

We have constructed Atlas course (or module) syllabi that encompass all the 120 normed core topics in the seventeen core subjects, and we also hope to construct Atlas course syllabi for a number of non-core subjects. The Atlas course syllabi for the core are part of the Courses database.

Atlas courses and open access learning

Although the primary purpose of constructing Atlas syllabi is to support course development and quality assurance in MPP and MPA programs, a secondary purpose is to facilitate self-study by users without online library access who wish to learn more about particular topics in public management. For this reason, we will use open access materials wherever possible in selecting the recommended readings for each topic included in the Atlas courses.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 17 April 2017.

Image: Adaptation of Atlas logo created 12 April 2016.