The course provides invaluable skills and knowledge for anyone seeking to develop
familiarity with some of the major issues in comparative politics and the practical skills in
analysing countries around the globe. The module is taught through a combination of eight
weekly one-hour lectures and compulsory one-hour seminars plus one reading week.
The lectures are designed to outline the topic and to prepare the theoretical ground for
the seminar discussions. They provide condensed introductions to the theme, identify
key challenges and controversies in existing scholarly research, and are the basis for
the discussion of empirical case studies.
The seminars are the place to build on issues raised in lectures. They take up the
presented challenges and apply the theoretical questions to specific case studies.
Important: As lectures and seminar classes are tightly linked, students are strongly
encouraged to attend both. Also, since we will be using interactive elements and group
exercises during class time, it is difficult to "make up" for missed classes. Please make every
attempt to attend classes. If you have to miss a class, it is your responsibility to make prior
arrangements with one of your classmates to share notes. If you know you will be unable to
attend a session it is both courteous and helpful to the rest of the class to make all reasonable
efforts to notify the lecturer/seminar tutor in advance.
You are expected to engage in intensive independent study, employing the reading lists
provided to deepen their knowledge of the subject. In addition to attendance at seminars and
lectures, you should spend 8-10 hours per week on your own independent study for this
Essential readings: In line with the teaching format, the readings for the lectures provide an
overview of the current knowledge while those for the seminar present selected empirical
case studies. It is crucial for the successful completion of this module to read at least the
essential readings each week prior to the respective lecture. Please note that we will use the
Clark et al. book a lot, so it will be worth buying this book (2nd or 3rd year students might sell
used copies). The Caramani book is an excellent alternative, which includes comparative data
and world trends including country profiles (p. 485-547).These books alone, however, are not
enough. The other books may prove useful to students looking for additional coverage of
some of the course topics. There are copies of these books in the bookshop and the Library.
Clark, W, M. Golder and S. Nadenichek Golder (2013) Principles of Comparative Politics.
Caramani, D. (ed.) (2011) Comparative Politics. Oxford UP.
Boix, C. and S. Stokes (eds) (2009) Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford UP.
Samuels, D. (ed.) (2013) Case Studies in Comparative Politics. Pearson.
Lin, T. (2006) Doing Comparative Politics. Lynne Rienne.
Seminar readings: The overall reading load might seem heavy at first sight. The secret to
cope with a bulk of reading is to skim strategically: Knowing how to skim readings is an
important professional skill for students (you can’t realistically be expected to read ALL the
materials for each class you are taking, right?). That is, you should read purposefully, and
look out for the important “stuff” in a text:
 The central question or puzzle the author seeks to answer or resolve;
 The definition of the dependent variable, or what the author wants to explain;
 The main independent variables the author(s) thinks are at work;
 The theory, or the rationale, that links independent to dependent variables; why should
certain things be related?
 The author’s research design: the types of evidence used to test hypotheses, where the
evidence comes from, and if you are convinced by it all.
Additional readings: It is essential that you keep up to date with developments in
contemporary politics in specific countries (which are of your personal interest) as we will
discuss these in our seminars and they will provide useful evidence for your research
projects. Students are encouraged to read weekly one article in a journal of political science
and/or one article in a serious newspaper in addition to the seminar readings. As a matter of
routine you should consult the most recent issues of a number of journals as they come into
the library and establish for yourselves whether they contain pertinent articles. Examples of
useful journals that cover studies in comparative politics: American Political Science Review,
European Journal of Political Research, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative
Political Studies, Democratization, Journal of Politics, and World Politics.
You should also consult one or more serious newspapers such as the Financial Times,
Independent, or the Guardian on a regular basis. For more in-depth analysis consult The
Economist. You should read them and determine the weaknesses and strengths of the studies
described and think about a (more) appropriate research design.
Week 2: Introduction to the study of comparative politics
The first lecture gives an overview of the module and introduces the sub-discipline of
comparative politics. Questions that we address include: What is comparative politics? What
are the primary aims of comparative political analysis? The seminar then zooms into the
comparative method and its specificities. Why do we compare? What are the essential
elements and tasks in research projects?
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
 Caramani, D. (ed.) 2011) Comparative
Politics. Oxford UP. Ch. 3 [Comparative
research methods, H. Keman], p. 50-63.
Clark, W., M. Golder and S. Nadenichek
Golder (2013) Principles of Comparative
Politics. Sage. Ch. 1 [Introduction] and 2
[What is Science?], p. 1-47.
Week 3: Describing political regimes
The literature provides different ways of how to describe political regimes, with the most
basic one being the distinction between democracy and dictatorship. This week’s lecture
discusses the most common measures of democratic and non-democratic regimes. Those
measures commonly treat the nation-state as their reference point. The seminar therefore
turns toward the democratic quality of governance beyond the state by taking the most
prominent example of the European Union. A juxtaposition of studies of the "democratic
deficit" in the EU exemplifies how different understandings of the EU’s political order lead to
different assessments of its democraticness.
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
 Follesdal, A. and S. Hix (2006) Why there is
a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response,
Journal of Common Market Studies 44(3):
 Zweifel, T. (2002) ...Who is Without Sin Cast
the First Stone: The EU's Democratic Deficit
in Comparison, Journal of European Public
Policy 9(5): 812-840.
 Héritier, A. (1999) Elements of Democratic
Legitimation in Europe: An Alternative
Perspective, Journal of European Public
Policy 6(2): 269-282.
Clark, W., M. Golder and S. Nadenichek
Golder (2013) Principles of Comparative
Politics. Sage. Ch. 5 [Democracy and
Dictatorship], p. 143-170.
Week 4: The effect of political regimes
An implicit assumption throughout last week’s session has been that democracy is good and
something that should be promoted. Yet, does it really matter whether someone lives in a
democracy or a dictatorship? Do democracies provide better outcomes thank non-democratic
countries? Specifically, we focus on whether the level of democratic quality makes a material
difference in people’s lives. In the seminar we have a closer look at two influential empirical
studies and discuss their findings.
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
Clark, W., M. Golder and S. Nadenichek 
Golder (2013) Principles of Comparative
Politics. Sage. Ch. 9 [Democracy or
Dictatorship], p. 325-347.
Ross, M. (2006) Is Democracy Good for the
Poor? American Journal of Political Science
50: 860-874.
Lake, D. and M. Baum (2001) The Invisible
Hand of Democracy: Political Control and the
Provision of Public Services, Comparative
Political Studies 34: 587-621.
Week 5: Explaining political regime change
Since the 1980s we have experienced various ‘waves’ of political transformation, beginning
in Southern Europe, then Latin America, followed by Eastern Europe, Africa and many other
sites including East Asia, and most recently the Arab peninsula. How can we explain
democratic transition and the breakdown of authoritarian rule? What are the economic and
cultural determinants of regime-type change? The seminar pays particular attention to recent
developments in the Arab world and compares them to those in the post-communist region.
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
Lim, T. (2006) Doing Comparative Politics. 
Lynne Rienner. Ch. 6 [What makes a
democracy?], 157-201.
Paczynska, A. (2013) Cross-Regional
Comparisons: The Arab Uprisings as Political
Transitions and Social Movements, PS:
Political Science & Politics 46(2): 217-221.
Landolt, L. and P. Kubicek (2013)
Opportunities and Constraints: Comparing
Tunisia and Egypt to the Coloured
Revolutions, Democratization, online first.
Week 6: Reading week – no classes.
Week 7: Visions of democracy and representation
Democracies vary in terms of institutional design, and different democratic institutions have
consequences in terms of core dimensions of democratic regimes such as representation and
accountability. The lecture gives a general overview of the sources and implications of
different democratic designs and will then focus on the consequences of different decisionmaking rules for the responsiveness of the regime. Yet, institutions do not reflect specific
visions of political order; they are also created for specific purposes. The seminar
concentrates on electoral systems and the effect of electoral quotas in terms of
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
Clark, W., M. Golder and S. Nadenichek 
Golder (2013) Principles of Comparative
Politics. Sage. Ch. 16 [Consequences of
Democratic Institutions], p. 743-765.
Bhavnani, Rikhil. 2009. Do Electoral Quotas
Work after They are Withdrawn: Evidence
from a Natural Experiment in India.
American Political Science Review 103
Fréchette, Guillaume R., Francois Maniquet,
and Massimo Morelli. 2008. Incumbents'
Interests and Gender Quotas. American
Journal of Political Science 52:891-909.
Week 8: Electoral systems and ethnic conflict
This week we focus on another consequence of democratic institutions, notably the link
between ethnic diversity, electoral laws, and conflict. Questions we ask include: Are
ethnically diverse societies inclined toward conflict? And, are there constitutional choices
that might encourage successful democratic consolidation in ethnically divided countries
such as Iraq or Afghanistan? The seminar readings take India and the Arab world as
examples – (what) can we learn from the Indian case for the Arab countries under transition?
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
 Chandra, Kanchan (2005). Ethnic Parties and
Democratic Stability, Perspectives on Politics
3(2): 235-252.
 Bormann, Nils-Christian, Manuel Vogt and
Lars-Erik Cederman (2012). The Arab Spring
and the Forgotten Demos, NCCR Democracy
Working Paper No. 52.
Clark, W., M. Golder and S. Nadenichek
Golder (2013) Principles of Comparative
Politics. Sage. Ch. 16 [Consequences of
Democratic Institutions], p. 788-805.
Week 9: Globalisation and democracy
Comparative politics research often tends to treat countries as closed systems (“billard
balls”) and focus on domestic factors only when explaining differences between them. Yet,
countries are embedded in an interconnected system of societies, politics and economies. This
increasing globalisation is critical for the study of comparative politics: ‘international’ and
‘domestic’ politics become ever more integrated. This week discusses the link between trends
of globalisation and democracy. In the seminar we analyse whether democratic rules and
practices are transported through transnational linkages such as migration and
Lecture (essential reading)
Seminar (background reading)
Johansson, H. (2002) Globalisation and 
Democracy, in: O. Elgstroem and G. Hyden
(eds) Development and Democracy.
Routledge, 23-45.
Careja, R. and P. Emmenegger (2012)
Making Democratic Citizens: The Effects of
Migration Experience on Political Attitudes
in Central and Eastern Europe, Comparative
Political Studies 45(7): 875-902.
Loveless, M. (2009) The Theory of
International Media Diffusion: Political
Socialization and International Media in
Studies in
Comparative International Development 44:
Week 10: What’s next in comparative politics?
The last week is devoted to the discussion of new directions in the field of comparative
politics. We address questions such as what are the main challenges facing comparative
politics today. In addition, we discuss questions you might have related to your assessed
essays. For the second objective, please also refer to the extended reading list on research
design provided on the website.
Lecture (essential reading)
 Lin, T. (2006) Doing Comparative Politics.
Lynne Rienne. Ch 9 [Globalization and the
Study of Comparative Politics], p. 265-290.
 Blondel, J (1999) Then and Now:
Comparative Politics, Political Studies 47(1):
Mini symposium (no extra readings)
Related flashcards

Political science

34 cards

Democratic socialism

40 cards

Types of organization

26 cards

Create Flashcards