Assigning podcasts as assignments to students

In my course on Global Challenges, I ask students to submit a policy podcast. Here are the guidelines that I give to students, and an example of what students have done.

Purpose of the assignment

The purpose of this assignment is for you to demonstrate the ability to use the theoretical tools provided in the course by a) analysing a concrete global challenge, and b) formulating policy proposals drawing on the theories discussed in the module. We ask you to put together a policy proposal podcast dealing with one out of three policy problems. You are expected to carry out some level of research on the problem at hand and collect the relevant data, analyse the causes of the problem, and formulate policy proposals to deal with the problem, by drawing on the lectures, the seminar discussions, and the readings of the module. The policy proposals should be grounded in the theories discussed in the module, but the language should be directed to a lay, informed audience.  

Three policy problems

You need to answer one of the following three questions:

1. Recently, the Italian government had decided to refuse entry to boats crossing the Mediterranean with migrants. How could we imagine a system where migrants seeking asylum are allocated fairly across European countries, in a way that is accepted by local citizens?

2. Donald Trump has announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accords signed in 2015. What kind of mechanism should we adopt so that large economies accept to reduce their carbon emissions?

3. How should we address the backlash against democracy and democratic norms in many parts of the world, including Europe? 


You are asked to submit 1 audio file and the script of your audio.

Your audio podcast should contain the following sections:

(1) an introduction presenting the problem

(2) an analysis of the problem which makes use of frameworks discussed in the module,

 (3) a policy recommendation proposing concrete measures to solve this problem, and a discussion of the main alternatives,

(4) a brief analysis of the pros/cons of the measure proposed

(5) a conclusion/opening

The podcast should be last no more than 10 minutes. This should correspond to ca. 1800 words of script (

Data and evidence

Someone reading your script should know your sources of data (literature or people) and the alternatives you considered as well as your final recommendation. However, you do not need to reference explicitly in spoken word. The reader should also learn enough about how you did your work to make an informed judgment on how seriously to take its recommendations. Ask yourself “Is this credible?” “Why would they take my advice seriously?” This also relates to the use of sources: make sure that you use reputable sources. While there is a wealth of information on blogs and websites, a policy recommendation relying only on this type of sources may not appear totally reliable. 


The podcast should be written in the style of a real piece of policy advice designed to influence a (busy) policy-maker, so it should be clear, concrete and to the point, but without jargon.

Assessment criteria

The assignments will be assessed by drawing on the elements in the table below. Use concise, clear language. Note that writing for the document should be readable, so please keep margins and font sizes reasonable. Make sure that the document has a narrative flow: the policy analysis tells a story, and should not just be a shopping list of points under a series of headings. This should be something that a policy-maker can read and understand fairly easily, and which will aid him/her in the decision-making process. In the real world, overly dense, jargon-filled, poorly researched, sloppily written and badly presented documents would be handed right back to you to be fixed (at best).

Assessment criteria

  1. Clarity, coherence and feasibility of policy proposal
  2. Link to concepts & issues handled in class
  3. Creativity (effort to make podcast interesting, fun, entertaining; evidence of creative thinking)
  4. Format & Quality (delivery)

A note on the format

You are allowed to use music or effects in the podcast, but you do not have to. You will not be assessed on the technical aspects of the podcast as such (audio quality, etc), but making it exciting and interesting will enhance the appeal of your policy proposal.

Resources for making podcasts & examples

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