Introduction to Comparative Politics

Course description Introduction to Comparative Politics
Year: 2014-2015
Catalog number:
Teacher(s):
  • Dr. A.K.O. Ahmadov
  • Diana Branduse
  • Farid Boussaid
Language: English
Blackboard: Yes
EC: 5
Level: 100
Period: Semester 1 / 2, Block I, II, III, IV
Hours of study: 35:00 hrs
  • No Elective choice
  • No Contractonderwijs
  • No Exchange
  • No Study Abroad
  • No Evening course
  • No A la Carte
  • No Honours Class

Tags

[BSc], GED, ID, PSc

Admission requirements

None.

Course description

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, simulations, and 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.

Learning 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.

Mode of instruction

We will meet for two 2-hour seminars each week. Each class will start with a brief summary of previously learned material followed by a structured interactive discussion of a specific topic based on assigned readings. We will sometimes use role-plays or simulations and strive to channel our brainstorming and musing creatively, efficiently and in a fun way. Collaborative “experiential learning” exercises should help us apply our theoretical knowledge, hone analytical skills in simulated real-life settings, perceive the “reality” from the perspective of actors whose behavior we want to understand, and foster productive team work. Videos and other multi-media material should help us connect the dots among various ideas and phenomena. 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.

Assessment

Assessment: Contribution to class discussions
Learning aim: Active and engaged understanding of major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: In-class quizzes
Learning aim: Active and engaged understanding of major concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Weeks 3 & 6

Assessment: Weekly contributions to online forums
Learning aim: Development of critical reasoning and writing skills in comparative politics
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: Group project (2000-2500 words)
Learning aim: Collaborative contextualization of concepts, theories and methods in comparative politics using case studies, and communication of findings
Percentage: 25%
Deadline: Week 7

Assessment: Final research essay (2500-3000 words)
Learning aim: Rigorous application of existing theoretical frameworks and methods in comparative politics to analyze real-life political phenomena
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 8

Compulsory textbook

Daniele Caramani, Ed. 2013. Comparative Politics(3rd Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Links to other course readings (journal articles) will be placed on Blackboard.

Contact information

Instructor: Anar K. Ahmadov (a.k.o.ahmadov@luc.leidenuniv.nl)

Languages