Comparative Politics and Democratization
Credits: 6 ECTS
Compulsory Courses 1st year
This course introduces the main theoretical approaches and analytical tools deployed in comparative politics. In so doing, it provides the analytical knowledge and practical skills to understand and examine major issues in comparative politics, including processes of state formation, regime types, democracy and democratization, authoritarianism, and globalization. The main emphasis is on how different state structures and political regimes work, how political actors operate within these institutional configurations, how states and regimes change over time and the effects and impact of different state and regime types. The course covers these questions and many others by utilizing the methods and techniques of comparative politics. It is broadly divided into three different parts: 1) States and regimes; 2) Institutions and actors; 3) Policies.
The course comprises 12 weekly sessions. These include the presentation and discussion of relevant research literature to understand the theoretical concepts and empirical analyses on each topic, and students’ presentations and practical exercises to apply broader analytical frameworks to particular case studies.
In all, throughout the course, we will explore recent theoretical debates and discuss historical and contemporary examples to add substance, and adopt a broad geographic scope by drawing on case studies from both advanced industrial and developing societies.
- Active participation requires each student to be an active member of the class and to participate in all sessions.
- In-class presentations. Each student will be responsible for the presentation of two comparative case studies (Sessions 3-12) in teams composed of two students. The main objective of the presentations is to apply the broader concepts, arguments and analytical frameworks discussed in class to specific case studies of interest to the students, i.e. countries, subnational units, regional/international organizations, policies. In order to prepare these presentations, students will draw on the lecture and class discussion from the immediate previous week and combine them with relevant secondary literature and the questions assigned. The presentations should be concise (15-20 minutes) and will be followed by a written report (1500 words, excluding bibliography) due by email and in class one week after the presentation. Each case study will count for the 20% of the final grade (10% for the in-class presentation and 10% for the written report).
- Take-home essays require students to submit a research paper in two steps.
- Essay proposal. The essay proposal will be based on a research topic that students think might be particularly interesting. The topic must be relevant to the broad themes and questions covered by this course. The essay should include the chosen topic, the relevant cases, together with a short outline of the project and a bibliography. It should be about 1000 words.
- Final essay. This final essay will attempt at providing a well-argued and documented argument about the topic of choice. The main requirement is that the paper employs a comparative research design. The evaluation will assess understanding of the main theoretical concepts and approaches discussed throughout the course. It will also evaluate the clarity and relevance of the topic, the pertinence of the concepts and methods used, as well as the structure and presentation of the paper. The final paper should be between 3500-4000, excluding bibliography.
The final grade will be a weighted average of five different elements:
- Active class participation 10%
- In-class presentation 1 20%
- In-class presentation 2 20%
- Essay proposal 15%
- Final essay 35%