Public administration is the backbone of modern statehood. No public policy can conceivably be implemented without it. The nature and the performance of public administration are thus key to both the understanding and the improvement of any government activity. The present course introduces to the basic properties and roles of public administration. This is done through both a systematic overview and readings of classic contributions to the field. The chosen approach takes into account that, on the one hand, public administration is an indispensable tool of government regardless of the nature of the political system but that, on the other hand, some of its key-functions do require robust state structures and standards of transparency that are inseparably connected to constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Reliability, efficiency, professionalism or law-based routines can only flourish in a corruption-free and non-arbitrary political environment, let alone impartiality, responsiveness, responsibility, neutral auditing and independent court control. Both those normative standards and how to manage administrative bodies in an imperfect environment are topics to be addressed.