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Comparative Politics

Module Code: PO2650

Module Name: Comparative Politics

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 44 hours lectures + fortnighly tutorials; 10 hours of tutorials
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Professor Gail McElroy

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe and assess the study of comparative politics in a systematic, social-scientific way
  • Examine key issues in comparative politics
  • Identify interesting research questions in comparative politics
  • Evaluate the usefulness of various theoretical approaches to address research questions
  • Describe a variety of political systems around the world
  • Explain how democratic and non-democratic regimes emerge and survive
  • Explain what happens when peaceful democratic politics fails

Module Learning Aims

Aims: This module aims to build students’ understanding of the basics of comparative politics, research methodology and argumentation in political science.


Module Content

The course is an introduction to the study of comparative politics and provides an overview of some of the key theoretical frameworks, concepts, and analytical methods of this field of study. We study political systems around the world with a view to understanding and explaining their differences and similarities with respect to their political institutions, the behaviour of their key political actors, and their policymaking processes and performance.

The course begins by examining the building blocks of the comparative approach. We describe, explain and examine the consequences of different political institutions in established democracies, including executive-legislative relations, electoral systems, and strong judiciaries. We then progress to look at some non-democratic forms of politics, asking why authoritarian regimes persist and whether corruption undermines democracy.

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Recommended Reading List

1. Caramani, Daniele. Ed. 2011. Comparative Politics (2nd edition). Oxford University Press.
2. Michael Gallagher, Michael Laver and Peter Mair. 2011. Representative Government in Modern Europe. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill, Fifth edition.

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Assessment Details

Tutorial participation: 10%;

Essay 1: 12.5%;

Essay 2: 12.5%

1 x 3 hour final exam 65%

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Last updated 22 September 2016 polsci@tcd.ie.