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Comparative Analysis of Political Systems


Admission requirements

Introduction to Comparative Politics is a pre-requisite for this course.


Comparative Analysis of Political Systems will focus on the study of institutions (such as electoral system, unitary vs. federal states, division of power between branches of government) of liberal democratic political systems. The goal is to understand what various forms institutions take, how and why they vary, where they come from and what effects they have within the polity. In addition to institutions, the course will also analyse what role different economic and societal factors play in dealing with global changes, as well as examine the impact of political cleavages such as class, religion, ethnicity and ideology.

To do so, the course will focus on addressing these issues by developing hypotheses and testing them against empirical evidence. Students are encouraged to draw on relevant literature and to study the relative merits of different approaches and methods. Throughout the course, students will apply studied concepts and theoretical frameworks in class discussions, joint research project covering constitutional design and take-home exam essays.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will

  • Understand the role of institutions, influence of economic and societal factors and political cleavages.

  • Understand different political systems across countries.

  • Show knowledge of the following topics: executives, legislatures, judiciaries, social cleavages and party systems, electoral systems and federalism.

  • Appreciate the merits of different approaches and methods.

  • Apply learned concepts and relevant literature to designing their own constitution.

  • Report on their findings orally and in written form.


Please see the LUC website:

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two two-hour seminars. It will include both short lectures and class discussions of the readings and key aspects of the topics. The textbook Principles of Comparative Politics will be the main reading, but it will be supplemented by other relevant books and articles. The formal readings and lectures are complemented by classroom discussions, which encourage active participation and help students to articulate ideas. Students will apply the learned concepts by writing a joint report on designing a constitution for a particular country and presenting this constitution in class.

Assessment method

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: assessed through In-class participation (20% of final grade), Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7
  2. Understanding of course content: assessed through group presentation (10% of final grade), Week 7, in class
  3. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed through group research project
    (3,000 words, 40% of final grade), due in week 7, in class Thursday
  4. Individual engagement with course readings: assessed through Individual essay (2,000 words, 30% of final grade), due Week 8 Thursday at 17:00


This course is supported by a BlackBoard site

Reading list


  • Roberts Clark, W., Golder, M., and Golder, S., (2009) Principles of Comparative Politics. (Washington DC: CQ Press).

  • Tsebelis, G., (2002) Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work, (Princeton: Princeton UP).


  • Stone Sweet, A., (2000) Governing with Judges: Constitutional Politics in Europe (Oxford: OUP).


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information

Dr. Lucie Cerna: l.cerna @

Weekly Overview

Week 1 Executives

Week 2 Legislatures

Week 3 Judiciaries

Week 4 Social Cleavages and Party Systems

Week 5 Electoral Systems

Week 6 Federalism

Week 7 Constitutional design