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Introduction to Comparative Politics




Admissions requirements

This course has no prerequisites.


This introductory course is designed to enable us to be theoretically- and methodologically-informed critical interpreters of political events and processes. We will survey major ideas, theories, and methodologies used in explaining domestic politics across time and space, en route learning about political systems, institutions, actors and processes worldwide. We will also build a toolkit of practical skills in analyzing politics through exercises, simulations, and individual and group research projects. Given the introductory nature of the course, the coverage of topics is by no means exhaustive, but is rather meant to lay the foundation for further study of world politics. We will start with approaches and methods in comparative politics. We will then look at the origins and functioning of the nation-state, various political institutions and actors, and sources and impediments of collective action and comparative development. We will conclude by examining the role of identity and culture in bringing about different political outcomes.

Course objectives

We will strive to build up and broaden our understanding of domestic politics worldwide and to develop skills in analyzing, applying and critically assessing key ideas, theories, and methodologies used in comparative politics – one of the three major sub-fields of political science along with political theory and international relations.
Successful completion of this course should enable you to:

  • understand and contextualize major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics;

  • develop critical reasoning and writing skills in analyzing and communicating your findings on the politics of various countries, groups, and institutions;

  • apply existing theoretical frameworks and methods in comparative politics to analyze real-life political phenomena and feed back to theory, i.e. our general frameworks to help us interpret, understand, explain and hopefully predict political developments.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

We will meet for two 2-hour seminars each week. Each class will start with a brief summary of previously learned material followed by a structured interactive discussion of a specific topic based on assigned readings. We will sometimes use role-plays or simulations and strive to channel our brainstorming and musing creatively, 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. Videos and other multi-media material should 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.


*Midterm exam - 20%
*Case study research notes (individual – the same as posts above) - 20%
*Final exam - 30%
*Comparative case study analysis group paper -20%
*Participation - 10%

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Hague, Rod, Martin Harrop & John McCormick. 2019. Comparative Government and Politics (11th edition). London: MacMillan International Higher Education.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Anar K. Ahmadov


Before the first class meeting, please read Hague, Harrop and McCormick (2019) chapter 1.