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Introduction to Comparative Politics


Admission requirements



Political science is the study of theory and practice of government and politics, focusing on the structure and dynamics of institutions, processes and behavior. Comparative politics is one of the major sub-fields of political science, comprising the systematic study of domestic government and politics, by drawing out differences and similarities within and across countries. This course is designed as an introduction to the main concepts, theories and methods used in explaining real-life domestic political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events) across time and space. We will also build a toolkit of practical skills in analyzing domestic politics through in-class exercises and discussions, as well as 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 the further study of politics.

Course Objectives

The main objective is to gain knowledge and understanding of key concepts, theories and methodologies used in comparative politics. Building on that knowledge and understanding, we then aim to develop skills using these key concepts, theories and methods, through their application in the analysis of real-life domestic political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events), specifically from a comparative perspective. Our final aim is to then be able to assess and evaluate the utility of these concepts, theories and methods in helping us understand domestic political phenomena from a comparative perspective.

Successful completion of this course should enable you to attain 4 learning outcomes (LOs):

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

  • analyze real-life domestic political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events) through the application of key concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics;

  • assess and evaluate the utility of these concepts, theories and methods in helping us understand political phenomena;

  • develop writing skills, discussion skills, critical thinking skills, and team-work skills.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of 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.

Assessment Method

Midterm exam: 25%
Final exam: 35%
Comparative literature review (group): 25%
Participation: 15%

Reading list

  • Hague, Rod, Martin Harrop & John McCormick. 2019. Comparative Government and Politics (11th edition). London: MacMillan International Higher Education. (From now on: Hague et al. 2019; earlier edition is fine too).

A selection of chapters and journal articles available via the (digital) Leiden University library.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator, course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Anar Ahmadov (convener), a.k.o.ahmadov@luc.leidenuniv.nl


Before the first class meeting, please read the course syllabus and Chapter 1 in Hague, Harrop and McCormick (2019).