Undergraduate Modules: POL226 - Comparative Politics: citizens, states, states, power and protest

Module Code:

POL 226

Module Title:

Comparative Politics: citizens, states, states, power and protest


Level 2


Semester 2


20 Credits

Taught by:

Dr Nasos Roussias, Lecturer in Politics

Module Description:

POL226 introduces students to the theories and methods of comparative politics. It aims to familiarise students with the conceptual and theoretical tools necessary for consuming and evaluating different approaches of comparative politics. The module puts emphasis on fundamental blocks of comparative politics, such as regime types, institutions, parties and voters. It focuses on the study of democracies, trying to understand what democracies are, how they emerge and how they operate. It also examines in detail different institutional arrangements and how they affect the organization of the state, and the behaviour of parties and voters. Topics include the state, parties, elections, voters, collective action problems, political competition, violence, civil wars, presidentialism, federalism and veto players. Throughout the module, examples from various countries and cases around the world are used to clarify theories and highlight the importance of comparison as a method of inference.

Module Aims:

This module aims to provide an understanding of key topics in the area of Comparative Politics as well as of the approaches used to study them. By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the methods/tools used to study Comparative Politics.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the multiple issues associated with Comparative Politics party politics and political competition.
  • Be able to define and analyse relevant concepts such as the state, regime type, different forms of institutions, political competition, collective action problems, etc.
  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, such as developing the capacity for independent learning through access to general learning resources.

This module also equips students with a range of important transferrable skills, which are vital in terms of employability, including working independently and as part of a team; managing a varied workload; assimilating and synthesising multiple data sources; constructing coherent arguments; and preparing written reports and verbal presentations.

Module Schedule:

Week Topic
1 Introduction: What is Comparative Politics?
2 The State
3 Democracy: Definitions & Measurements
4 Determinants of Democracy
5 Collective Action Problems
6 Political Competition & Party Identification
7 Elections & Electoral Systems
8 Cleavages & Party Systems
9 Presidentialism & Parliamentarism
10 Federalism, Bicameralism & Veto Players
11 Violence & Civil War
12 Review Session

Teaching Methods:

  • 12 * 1 hour lectures
  • 11 * 1 hour seminars


  • Essay - 50% of mark
  • Exam - 50% of mark

Resources Available:

  • Individual feedback and guidance sessions with module tutors.
  • Detailed 17 page module handbook.
  • Dedicated module intranet site.
  • Extensive library materials, including digitised reading lists, ebooks, journal article links and other resources.

Indicative Reading:

Clark, William, Matt Golder and Sona Golder. 2009. Principles of Comparative Politics. Washington DC: CQ Press. (required textbook)

Boix, Carles and Susan Stokes (eds). 2007. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Przeworski, Adam, Michael Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub and Fernando Limongi. 2000. Democracy and Development: Political Institutions & Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Olson, Mancur. 1965 (1971). The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Campbell, Angus, Philip Converse, Warren Miller and Donald Stokes. 1960. The American Voter. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Lijphart, Arend. 1994. Electoral Systems and Party Systems: A Study of Twenty-Seven Democracies, 1945- 1990. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cheibub, Jose Antonio. 2007. Presidentialism, Parliamentarism and Democracy. Cambridge University Press

King, Gary, Robert Keohane and Sidney Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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