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OAFP 5295 - Introduction to Data Science for Public Policy

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


No background in coding nor mathematics is required. We will start from zero and make groups of students based on your progress and ambitions regarding the exercices. We have a very fun and “hands-on” approach. At least half of the time spent in classes will be dedicated to manipulating data.

Course Description

What do all top-performing companies of the world have in common ? They leverage their data to drive their decision-making process and to improve their services. It's now time to apply the same paradigm to public decision-making. The goal of this course is to equip students with technical tools and methodologies. You will learn to manipulate and analyse real datasets in order to make more informed decisions. You will be introduced to basic mathematical and statistical concepts, as well as software and programming frameworks to apply them. By the end of the 12 classes, you will be able to identify situations where data can be leveraged to orient public policy. You will know how to efficiency analyze data by using several standard analytics tools, including Excel, Tableau and Python.


  • CHOPIN, Antoine (Chief Technical Officer)
  • WEISS, Arnaud (CEO)

Pedagogical format

The course pedagogical format will be a mix of lectures and group workshops, where students will apply the skills they have learned during the session.

Course validation

Groups of 3-4 students will work on two to three assignments, which will be related to a public policy issue and include a dataset. Students will be expected to analyze the data and produce a report including key takeaways. The format can be written or verbal (presentation). Participation will count for 10% of the total grade.


For some sessions, we will provide non-compulsory short readings that will help you better understand the programming concepts in class. The materials will require 30 to 60 minutes of your time.

Required reading

  • “Seven things you should know if you're starting out programming”, The Guardian, 2011.
  • TK, “Actionable advice & Stories to start learning to code”, Medium, 2018.
  • Mergel, Ines et. al., “Big Data in Public Affairs”, Public Administration Review 76(6):928-937. Available at: