nl en

Introduction to Comparative Politics


Admission requirements



Political science is the study of theory and practice of government and politics, focusing on the structure and dynamics of institutions, processes and behavior. Comparative politics is one of the major sub-fields of political science, comprising the systematic study of domestic government and politics, by drawing out differences and similarities within and across countries. This course is designed as an introduction to the main concepts, theories and methods used in explaining real-life domestic political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events) across time and space. We will also build a toolkit of practical skills in analyzing domestic politics through in-class exercises and discussions, as well as individual and group research projects. Given the introductory nature of the course, the coverage of topics is by no means exhaustive, but is rather meant to lay the foundation for the further study of politics.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand, explain and contextualize key concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics;

  • Analyze real-life domestic political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events) through the application of key concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics;

  • Assess and evaluate the utility of these concepts, theories and methods in helping us understand political phenomena;

  • Develop writing skills, discussion skills, critical thinking skills, and team-work skills.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

There are two main teaching methods used in this course: lectures and tutorials.

Lectures: The instructor will deliver a lecture based on the required readings. Lectures will provide an overview of the dedicated topic for the week in question. Each class will begin with a brief question and answer period related to the readings or to previous lectures. This period will be followed by the lecture for the day. At the end of each lecture there will also be a brief period for questions from students. Come prepared to engage with the instructor, your fellow students, and the material to be discussed.

Tutorials: The instructor’s lectures, presentations, readings, and in-class debates will be complemented with tutorials. The goal of tutorials is to provide a forum for students to discuss their thoughts and ideas in a seminar style. Tutorials often closely follow the Socratic method, where the student presents his or her findings and the professor rigorously questions every assumption made by the student while also drawing the other students into the discussion. Two students will be in charge of leading each tutorial discussion, and every student will have the opportunity to be a discussion leader. During the tutorial session, the discussion leaders will guide the discussion and the presentation. The discussion leaders will also need to make sure the discussion stays on topic and that the group does not lose track of the task. In short, the discussion leaders should consider themselves as the lead presenters. The discussion leaders are positions that you can volunteer for on a weekly basis. This is a fun task, but if you find no other motivation please note that it counts positively and significantly towards your participation grade. In the rare event that there is no volunteer, the instructor can assign students to take on these roles.

Assessment Method

  • Midterm exam: 25% (Week 4)

  • Final exam: 35% (Week 8)

  • Comparative literature review: 25% (Week 8)

  • In-class participation: 15% (ongoing)

Reading list

The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Ayo Adedokun,