nl en

Great Debates in Political Science (The Hague, Spring)



This course is centered around three influential “great debates” in political science: power in international relations, social capital and political participation, and consociational democracy and ethnic conflict. Each debate is introduced by reading a key book on it and is followed up by a discussion of its various aspects through several examples of research on the original debate. Students will learn to understand particular issues from several perspectives, including different theoretical and methodological approaches and themselves apply political science concepts to analyses the issues at hand.

Course objectives

Goal 1: Introduce students to three influential major debates in political science both in terms of their theoretical and conceptual substance as well as the different methodological approaches and standards of empirical evidence.
Goal 2: Advance students’ critical thinking through the application and evaluation of these theories and concepts, as well as their critiques.
Goal 3: Further students’ academic skills through independent writing and in-class discussions.

Study Material

Lijphart, Arend. 1977. Democracy in Plural Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Also available online through the Leiden University Library)
Robert Putnam, 2001. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
Mearsheimer, John J. 2014 (updated edition). The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton.
A selection of articles available online through the Leiden University Library (tba).

Assessment method

Three written papers (one about each book) of no more than 2,000 words.
Each paper counts for 1/3 of the final grade.

Mode of instruction

7 sessions consisting of interactive lectures and discussion seminars.