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Introduction to Comparative Politics




Admissions requirements



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, 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 here.

Mode of instruction

We will meet for two 2-hour seminars each week. Along with plenary discussions, we will also use in-class exercises in order to channel our brainstorming and musing creatively and efficiently. 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.

A typical session will start with a brief summary of previously learned material followed by a structured interactive discussion of a specific topic based on assigned readings. From the second week on, there will be usually be three compulsory readings for each session. The first reading will introduce the theoretical topic and we will spend the first part of the session discussing it in conjunction with the ideas from the second reading. The second reading will be an article or a book chapter/excerpt on the same topic that uses a specific methodology or method (or a combination of those). We will use this reading to reconstruct and understand the methodology or method used by the author(s) in the second part of the session.


Assessment: participation
Learning aim: Active and engaged understanding of major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 8

Assessment: In-class quizzes
Learning aim: Active and engaged understanding of major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics
Percentage: 30% (15% each)
Deadline: Weeks 3 & 7

Assessment: In-class writing assignments
Learning aim: Active and engaged understanding of major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics, and development of critical reasoning and writing skills in comparative politics
Percentage: 30% (15% each)
Deadline: Weeks 4 & 6

Assessment: Group project (2500 words)
Learning aim: Collaborative contextualization of concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics using case studies, and communication of findings
Percentage: 25%
Deadline: Week 8


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

  • Daniele Caramani, (Ed.) 2013. Comparative Politics (3th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A selection of chapters and journal articles. Students are responsible for finding the readings themselves - only those that are unavailable via the (digital) Leiden University library will be provided by the instructor via a link on the course Blackboard site.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Anar K. Ahmadov, a.k.o.ahmadov@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Before the first class meeting, please read the Introduction and Section 1, Chapter 1 in Caramani 2013.