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Advanced Comparative Political Economy



[BSc], GED, ID, Psc, Ec

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: You are required to have successfully completed Quantitative Research Methods or an equivalent course and have working understanding of political science, economics, and/or development as evidenced by successful completion of 100- and 200-level courses in these fields of study. If you are not sure, write to the course instructor. Course Administration and the instructor will check each record to make sure you don’t accidentally take a course that you’re likely to fail.

Course description

In this seminar, we will strive to understand how political and economic factors have interacted across countries historically and in current settings. We will examine the ways in which political interests, agents and institutions influence economic performance and vice versa – how economic variables affect political action. We will pay attention to how political-economic theories are build, how they interact with one another, and how they are explored or tested using various sources of evidence. Given the breadth of topics and coverage of countries with different records of industrialization, democracy and economic performance, our goal is seemingly modest, but in reality ambitious – to further our understanding of key ideas, debates, and methodologies in comparative political economy in a structured way. This task requires dedication, diligence, imagination, and, – well, as much of arts and sciences, – sacrifices.

Weekly overview

(subject to change)
Week 1: What is Political Economy?
Week 2: Markets and States
Week 3: Political-Economic Systems and Context
Week 4: Politics, Institutions, and Development
Week 5: Collective Action
Week 6: The Emergence and Effects of Democracy and Autocracy
Week 7: International Political Economy and Domestic Politics

Learning objectives

Our key objective in this course will be to advance our understanding of the interaction between political and economic factors.
If you persevere and successfully make to the end of this course despite temporarily losing many a brave friend in this battle and your own sanity, you should be able to:

  • understand and critically discuss major issues, debates and theories in comparative political economy;

  • critically apply existing theoretical frameworks to evaluate specific country experiences in a comparative perspective;

  • empirically identify existing or potential sources of challenges for specific countries, their neighbors, partners and foes;

  • work toward developing tailored remedies for such challenges and present findings to stakeholders and informed non-specialists;

  • further strengthen your case for acquiring a right to give a grin at those economists and policy practitioners who seem to ignore politics, structures, and institutions.

Mode of instruction

We will meet for two 2-hour seminars each week, starting each class with a brief recap and following with a discussion of a specific topic based on assigned readings. Most of our discussions will take the form of a structured interaction, including case-based debates, role-plays and simulations, so as to channel our brainstorming and musing productively, efficiently and in a fun way. Collaborative “experiential learning” exercises should help us apply our theoretical knowledge, hone analytical skills in simulated real-life settings, perceive the “reality” from the perspective of actors whose behavior we want to understand, and foster productive team work. We will use multi-media material to help us connect the dots among various ideas and phenomena.


Your preparation, research, contribution and reflection are essential for your success in this course, for the quality of our interaction and, ultimately, the learning of the whole group (and indirectly you again!).

Assessment: Contribution to in-class discussions and exercises
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Weeks 1-7

Assessment: Data report and presentation (on sources of evidence on the class topic)
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Weeks 1-7

Assessment: Research proposal (max. 1500 words)
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Week 3 (Sunday midnight)

Assessment: Group project (a script and enactment of a short original stage play OR a mock trial)
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 7 (Friday midnight)

Assessment: Final research essay (max. 2500 words)
Percentage: 25%
Deadline: Week 8 (Friday midnight)

Compulsory textbook

Links to most course readings (journal articles) will be placed on Blackboard. The following book is required:

Caporaso, James A., and David P. Levine. 1992. Theories of Political Economy. Cambridge University Press.

Contact information

Instructor: Anar K. Ahmadov (