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Introduction to Comparative Politics


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



Comparative politics is one of the major sub-fields of political science, comprising the systematic study of domestic 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 comparative politics. It relies on interactive lectures, collective discussions, as well as on a group research project. Given the introductory nature, the coverage of topics is by no means exhaustive, but aims at laying 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.

  • analyse 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, discussion, critical thinking and team-work skills.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course consists in thirteen classes during eight weeks. While a mid-term exam will be held in week 5, the final exam and the deadline for a literature review paper will be in week 8.

Classes take the form of interactive lectures, in which we revisit the assigned course material and discuss it collectively. Students are expected to come prepared to every class and participate actively in the discussions by sharing their thoughts, react to those of their colleagues and ask questions. Depending on the topic, lectures can also be complemented by in-class exercises.

Assessment Method

Students will be assessed by a mid-term exam, a final exam and a collective literature review paper, as well as based on their in-class participation. The final grade is obtained as specified in the table hereunder.

  • In-class participation, 15%

  • Mid-term exam, 25%

  • Final exam, 35%

  • Collective literature review paper, 25%

Reading list

The sessions will be articulated around a series of chapters and articles that should be read ahead of the session for which they are assigned. In particular, chapters from the following course manual will be used:

Hague, R., Harrop, M., & McCormick, J. (2019). Comparative Government and Politics (11th edition). London: Red Globe Press & Palgrave MacMillan.


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. Christoph Niessen,