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Module Code: POU33152

Module Name: German Politics: Contemporary Challenges and Historic Development 2020-21

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 2
  • Contact Hours: 2 lectures per week
  • Module Personnel: Dr Jan Berz
  • Office Hour: TBA
  • View a video summary of the module

Learning Outcomes

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

  • understand the German political system and its historic development
  • discuss the significant changes and challenges to German politics caused by the Euro- and refugee-crisis and put them into European context
  • explain differences in political behaviour and attitudes between East and West Germany
  • examine the veto-player power of the German second chamber and German Constitutional Court
  • understand the unique features of the German mixed-electoral system
  • assess Germany's role in the European Union and European attitudes among the German populace.

Module Learning Aims

The aim of this module is to provide students with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the German Political System, but also of the academic research that aims to explain contemporary developments and challenges in German Politics.


Module Content

The aim of this module is to provide a profound understanding of contemporary political processes and challenges in German politics. For this purpose, the course will give a brief overview over Germany’s post-war political development. We will examine, in particular, the role of political culture and political institutions as determinants of successful democratization, as well as, prevailing differences in political attitudes and behaviour between East and West Germany after re-unification. The course puts general trends and developments – such as increasing volatility of electoral behaviour, fragmentation of the party system and complex government formation, and demand for direct democracy – in Germany into European context.

Apart from that, the course highlights critical policy issues and current challenges including Germany’s role in the European Union and citizens' attitudes towards it, as well as economic, environmental, and immigration policies. In addition, the course introduces and discusses some of the more unique features of the German case, such as its mixed-member proportional electoral system, the federal system, and the role of the second chamber and the German Constitutional Court as relevant veto-players.

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Visiting Students

This module is open to one-term and full-year visiting students. Incoming Socrates / Erasmus / visiting students are required to fulfil the same module requirements, in terms of coursework and exams, as TCD students. Registering for the module implies acceptance of this.

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Recommended Reading List

Detailed readings will be given in the module handout. Key readings are:

  • Langenbacher, E. and Conradt, D. P. 2017. The German Polity. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Schmidt, M. G. 2004. Political Institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Padgett, S., Paterson, W. E. and Zohlnhöfer, R (Eds). 2014. Developments in German Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Green, S., Hough, D., & Miskimmon, A. 2012. The Politics of the New Germany. Abingdon: Routledge.

Assessment Details

Essay - weighted 25%

Exam - weighted 75%

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