POL S 204 A: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 12:00pm - 2:10pm
DEN 210
Yusri Supiyan

Syllabus Description:

Course Description 


This course is designed as an introductory survey of the field of comparative politics, a subfield of the discipline of political science that analyzes political phenomena and institutions at the domestic (state and sub-state) level. In this course we will explore a broad range of topics such as institutions, the modern state and its formation, autocratic and democratic regimes, varieties of executive-legislature institutional design, state breakdown and regime transition and revolutions, political parties and electoral systems, political conflict and violence, ethnicity and nationalism, and economic development. While these topics do not constitute an exhaustive list, they arguably represent the most important ones that concern the field of comparative politics at large.


Course Objectives


This course has been designed for students to achieve the following objectives:

1. Understand what 'comparative politics' encompasses and how it is 'done'

2. Recognize and comprehend the causes and consequences of political, economic and social phenomena as they relate to the study of comparative politics

3. Think critically about the issues, theories, arguments and empirical cases contained in the course lectures and readings

4. Apply the theories and frameworks contained in the course lectures and readings to our contemporary world

5. Achieve a solid intellectual foundation in preparation for other advanced political science courses


Course Themes


The following questions offer an overview of the themes that we will cover in this course:

1. What are institutions and why do they matter for the study of politics?

2. Why is the modern state the primary form of human political organization in the world today, and what do they exist for?

3. Why do authoritarian regimes exist and persist in some states, while in other states democracy has successfully entrenched itself?

4. Why do some states breakdown and/or witness regime transition but others remain resilient against domestic and international pressures to change?

5. What explains the variations in certain domestic political institutions across different states, and what consequences do they have for each state itself and its societies?

6. Why do human beings tend to organize politically around social categories such as `ethnicity' and `nation' but not other types of social categories?

7. Why is violence prevalent in some states and societies but not others?

8. Why are some states rich and others poor?


Course Evaluation


The breakdown of the grading component for this course is as follows:

1. Map Quizzes (5%)

Students will take two short map quizzes. However I will only take the higher score of the two quizzes as the final score for this component of the overall grade.

2. Brief Response Papers (10%)

As part of this course, students will watch four documentaries in class. For any two of these documentaries, students must submit a brief response paper (at most half a page long) after having viewed them.

2. Midterm Examination (30%)

Closed-book examination. No make-up examination requests will be entertained.

3. Final Examination (30%)

Closed-book examination. No make-up examination requests will be entertained.

4. Participation (25%)

Students are expected to come to class daily and make sure they are well-prepared (i.e., having done the scheduled readings) and participate actively and meaningfully in class discussions.


Catalog Description: 
Political systems in a comparative framework. Traditional and contemporary approaches to the study of governments and societies in different countries. Offered: AWSpS.
Department Requirements: 
Introductory Courses
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:10pm