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Introduction to Political Science



This course provides a systematic overview of the most important concepts, approaches and methods used in Political Science to study national and international politics. Some important questions to be answered are: what is politics; how have the concepts such as “state” and “power” developed over time; what are the strengths and weakness of the various theoretical approaches (such as normative, behavioralist, institutionalist, rational choice, interpretive) to studying them; what methods serve us best in understanding the political process?
The course also includes Academic Skills working groups that focus on improving students’ ability to critically analyse political science research and on understanding how studies undertaken on the same topic but using different theoretical approaches can be placed in dialogue with one another.

Course objectives

Goal 1: To provide a systematic overview of the central concepts and most important approaches in political science.
Goal 2: To introduce students to the methods and techniques used by political science to study the political process.
Goal 3: To improve students’ ability to critically analyse multiple texts, placing them in dialogue with one another.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and working groups

Work group coordinator: F. Mansvelt Beck

Course load

140 hrs

Assessment Method

60% final exam
40% work group assignments and participation

The final grade for the work groups is the weighted average of two assignments (each counting for 40% of the grade) and a participation grade (counting for 20% of the grade).

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Blackboard no later than the publication of the grades.

Reading list


Lowndes, Marsh and Stoker, Theory and Methods in Political Science, (4th edition) Palgrave Macmillan
Parts of Hague, Harrop, and McCormick Comparative Government and Politics (10th Edition) Palgrave Macmillan

Working groups:

Mansbridge, J. (1999). Should blacks represent blacks and women represent women? A contingent “yes”. The Journal of Politics, 61, 628-657.
Pantoja, A. D. & Segura, G. M. (2003). Does ethnicity matter? Descriptive representation in legislatures and political alienation among Latinos. Social Science Quarterly, 84, 441-460.
Bird, K. (2005). The political representation of visible minorities in electoral democracies: A comparison of France, Denmark, and Canada. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 11, 425-465.


See general information on Tab 'Year 1'.

Timetable - courses and exams


Office Hours

Mondays and Thursdays 14:00-15:00 during the whole of block IV.
For locations please consult the monitors in Wijnhaven Building.