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Comparative Analysis of Political Systems




Admission Requirements

Introduction to Comparative Politics recommended.

Similarly tagged 100-level and 200-level coursen.

Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.


Comparative Analysis of (Democratic) 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 analyze 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, a research project 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 research project.

  • Report on their findings orally and in written form.

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 report project and presenting case studies in class.


Assessment: In-class participation
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: Presentations
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: Research project (3,000 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 7

Assessment: Individual take-home exam essays (3,000 words in total)
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 8


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

Contact Information


Weekly Overview

Week 1: Executives
Week 2: Legislatures
Week 3: Judiciaries
Week 4: Federalism
Week 5: Social Cleavages and Party Systems
Week 6: Electoral Systems
Week 7: Constitutional design

Preparation for first session