Prospectus

nl en

Introduction to Comparative Politics

Course 2018-2019

Tags

GED

Admissions requirements

None.

Description

Comparative politics focuses on understanding and explaining domestic politics in comparative perspective. It is one of the three major sub-fields of political science along with political theory and international relations. This introductory course is designed as an introduction to the main concept, theories and methods used in explaining real-life 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 further study of politics. We will start with approaches and methods in comparative politics. We will then look at the origins and functioning of the nation-state, and then move on to the concepts of democracy and autocracy. We next survey various institutions, including electoral systems, executives and bureaucracies, legislatures, federalism and decentralization, political parties and party systems. We conclude by examining the role of identity and culture in bringing about different political outcomes.

Course objectives

Given the introductory nature of this course, the main objective is to gain knowledge and understanding of key concepts, theories and methodologies used in comparative politics. We then aim to develop skills using these key concepts, theories and methods, though the analysis of real-life political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events), specifically from a comparative perspective. Our final aim is to then be able to again assess the utility of concepts, theories and methods in helping us understand political phenomena.

Successful completion of this course should enable you to:
- Understand, contextualize and explain major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics;
- apply major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics to analyze real-life political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events);
- develop critical reasoning and be able to evaluate of key concepts, theories and methods given their analytical utility in analyzing political phenomena (countries, groups, institutions, events)
- Develop presentation and writing skills

Timetable

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

Assessment: In-class exam
Learning aim: knowledge, understanding, application and critical assessment of key concepts, theories and methods
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: week 7

Assessment: Online case study analysis posts (each 200 words max)
Learning aim: knowledge, understanding, application and critical assessment of key concepts, theories, and methods; knowledge and understanding of case study country; developing writing skills
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: ongoing weeks 2 – 7

Assessment: Comparative case study analysis group presentation (25 minutes max)
Learning aim: collaborative knowledge, understanding, application and critical assessment of key concepts, theories, and methods; knowledge and understanding of numerous countries; developing writing and team work skills
Percentage: 10%
Deadline: week 7

Assessment: Comparative case study analysis group paper (2500 words max)
Learning aim: collaborative knowledge, understanding, application and critical assessment of key concepts, theories, and methods; knowledge and understanding of numerous countries; developing writing and team work skills
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: week 8

Assessment: participation
Learning aim: active and engaged understanding of major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics; developing individual listening and discussion skills
Percentage: 10%
Deadline: ongoing weeks 1 – 7

Blackboard

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.) 2017. Comparative Politics (4th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Students are strongly advised not to use earlier versions.
A selection of chapters and journal articles available via the (digital) Leiden University library.

Registration

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.

Contact

Dr. C.M.C. van Vonno
vonnocmcvan@fsw.leidenuniv.nl

Remarks

Before the first class meeting, please read the Introduction and Chapter 1 in Caramani 2017.