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Politics North America


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


This course examines political institutions and democracy in North America. It discusses constitutional structures, electoral arrangements, and political parties, with a view to assessing the scope and effectiveness of democracy. While the course concentrates on the recent past, an historical overview furnishes essential context. Most of the course deals with the United States, but discussion of Canada and Mexico provides a comparative element.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is to provide a sound understanding of the political systems of the North America, and to enable them to make critical comparisons between them. The course will also help students to assess the political systems of these countries in the context of democracy and democratization as an international phenomenon.
Academic skills to be acquired and developed during the course:
Critical thinking; essay writing; writing under pressure (time management); teamwork; presentation; peer assessment.
Most precisely, as determined in the Course and Examination Regulations of the Bachelors’ Programs of the Faculty of Humanities and particularly of International Studies: 3; 7-11; I.1-5; II.1-2; III.1-3; IV.1-4.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; tri-weekly tutorials.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs

  • Atending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Written examination with short open questions

  • Written examination with essay questions

Final exam:

  • Written examination with short open questions

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

  • Richard M. Valelly, American Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Marty Cohen, David Karol, Hans Noel, and John Zaller, The Party Decides – Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. M.L. de Vries