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Unit information: Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction in 2018/19

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Unit name Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction
Unit code POLI11103
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Wickham-Jones
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit introduces students to the comparative study of politics and government. Students will become familiar with a broad range of theories and concepts used in comparative studies of politics. The theories and concepts will be applied intensively and comparatively to seven country cases: France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, India, Mexico, and Nigeria. The unit begins by looking at some fundamental topics in the study of comparative politics including the purpose of comparison and leading theoretical approaches to comparative politics. A consideration of the process of state formation leads into a comparative analysis of transitions to democracy. The next section of the unit examines the role played by political parties as mediators between social forces and the formal institutions of government. The unit then examines the impact that formal institutions of government have on political outcomes. Themes covered in the final section of the unit include economic management, presidential executives, parliamentary systems, federal and consociational devices used to manage political conflict.


  • to introduce students to key theories and concepts used in the study of comparative politics.
  • to introduce students to the key literature on comparative politics.
  • to introduce students to the outline of core political institutions.
  • to develop a critical approach to understanding political institutions.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will:

  1. have read and understood some of the key literature on comparative politics
  2. have demonstrated familiarity with key ideas used in the literature on comparative politics
  3. be able to compare the political experiences of different countries
  4. be able to write an essay that frames an explanation of political outcomes
  5. have a working knowledge of key institutions of government
  6. have a working knowledge of politics in the country cases

Teaching details

2 x 1hr lecture and 1hr seminar.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

1 x 1500 word essay

Summative assessment:

1 x 2500 word essay

Both essays will assess learning outcomes 1-6 as described above.

Reading and References

MMark Kesselman, Joel Krieger & William A. Joseph (eds) (2009), Introduction to comparative politics: Political challenges and changing agendas, 5th edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

J. Bara & M. Pennington (eds) (2009), Comparative Politics, London: Sage.