In this talk we review different results in optimisation and optimal control of large-scale, agent-based models. We model the role of external interventions over a large population as a mean-field optimal control problem. Such control problems are constrained by a PDE of continuity-type, governing the dynamics of the probability distribution of the agent population. We show the existence of mean field optimal controls both in the stochastic and deterministic setting. We present a novel approximating hierarchy of sub-optimal controls based on a Boltzmann approach, whose computation requires a very moderate numerical complexity with respect to the one of the optimal control. We provide numerical experiments for models in opinion formation comparing the behavior of the control hierarchy.