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User-Centred Digital Government

Key information

Subject area:

Public Policy, Politics & Security

Course type:

Executive Education

Credit level:


Credit value:



4 weeks

Available course dates:

To be confirmed

Course overview

In recent years, governments around the world, have been finding new ways of building and improving public services (e.g., filing taxes or renewing a driver’s license online). This method is built on a user-centred practices common to online, digital, spaces rather than practices common to public administration.

This new approach has been driven, internationally, by a group of public servants and civil society actors who share enough similarities that we can meaningfully call them a movement: the user-centred digital government movement. In this module you will learn about the powerful facts which brought this movement in existence. This is a story of real highs and lows, of massive failures motivating positive changes, and fascinating new services being built using innovative approaches.

It’s also a story that is neither complete, nor uncontroversial. It is not complete because the movement is still young, and manifestations of it are still popping up in countries almost every week. It is not uncontroversial because there are critics who argue that the movement pays insufficient respect to the past, and that it is not always as successful as it claims. Fundamentally, this is a story about how various new ideas about how governments should respect and serve people are emerging, and rapidly taking hold in governments around the world.

This module seeks to explain what the user-centred digital government movement is and why it matters to public servants and policy makers. It explores why that movement came about, what it believes, and what it was responding to.

What does this course cover?

Week 1: What is e-government?

This week we will introduce the general notion of e-government and how it differs from traditional forms of government. This will lay the foundations for the module by defining and explaining the key concepts used in the module.

Week 2: Public service as a platform

In this week we will examine the transformation of public services. We will look to the platformisation of public service by exploring two phenomena that perhaps epitomise, better than any others, the turn towards a user-centred e-government.

Week 3: The user at the centre?

In this final week of the module, we turn to analysing the shifting position and role of citizens in an e-government environment. Building on the content previously covered, we will close in on the central question of e-government: in which ways are citizens made more involved in the delivery of public services?

What will I achieve?

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Apply an enhanced skill-set on the applicability of digital services for different types of users and contexts.
  • Create and/or improve digital services that put the citizens at the centre.
  • Adapt, create or oversee the creation of appropriate citizen-centric technological solutions to existing service provision.

Who will I learn with?

Paolo Gerbaudo

Paolo Gerbaudo

Reader in Digital Politics

Olga Siemers

Olga Siemers

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

Who is this for?

This short course is for mid-career professionals. Standard entry requirements are a 2:1 degree plus 3 years of relevant work experience. Applicants without a 2:1 or higher degree are welcome to apply and typically require 5+ years of relevant work experience.

How will I be assessed?

One written assignment, plus participation in webinars and discussion forums.

Our modules offer high levels of interaction with regular points of assessment and feedback. Each four week module is worth five Master's level academic credits and includes three webinars with a King's lecturer and peer group of global professionals.

What is the teaching schedule?

Format: Fully online, plus 3 x 1-hour weekly webinars

This module has been designed specifically for an online audience. It uses a range of interactive activities to support learning including discussion forums, online readings, interactive lectures videos and online tutorials.

Fees and discounts

Tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Further information

Module Creator

Dr Paolo Gerbaudo, Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. He has written 3 books and various journal articles on digital politics, social media, campaigning and emerging social movements and parties.

Please note that this is only indicative information. Lecturers and course content are subject to change. Please contact us directly for the most recent information.

Course status:

Course closed

Full fee £950

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