Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
BESS-CLES (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BIG (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Mission & Content Summary


This course introduces students to the analysis of political processes in well-established democracies. It focuses particularly on the topics of mass political behavior in contemporary democracies (such as voting participation, protest, and vote choice) and the impact of electoral, legislative, and executive institutions on policy outcomes. One of our central goals in the course is to evaluate whether the quality of political representation in contemporary democracies is as high as it could/should be and to come up with ways to improve it. Students are expected to become familiar with important theoretical arguments in the study of mass behavior, political institutions, and representation in advanced democracies; to be able to assess whether these arguments are supported by systematic empirical evidence; and to apply knowledge learned in the course to understand current political events and trends in democratic nations across the world.


This course presents a broad overview of the factors that influence voting behavior, party competition, and policymaking in advanced democracies.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Evaluate the quality of political representation in contemporary democracies.
  • Describe how political institutions influence accountability and responsiveness.
  • Explain the conditions under which different forms of citizen participation can impact policy.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify ways in which the quality of political representation can be improved.
  • Analyze current political events and the potential for meaningful change under different institutional and political conditions.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures


  • Lectures are structured according to the standard format: the instructor presents and elaborate on the material contained in the required readings, which the students have read before class, so as to enhance in-class discussions and students’ participation.
  • Attendance: some of the assigned readings feature a high degree of sophistication in terms of methods of analysis. Therefore, students’ attendance is strongly recommended. In fact, although no formal prerequisites are required, the lectures provide students some necessary (yet informal) background that help them gain a better understanding of those readings that include a technical component. Attendance is measured by the specific app available to all students. To qualify as an attending student and be allowed to take the partial exam, an attendance rate equal to or higher than 75% must be reported.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)


With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the student assessment is based on two main components, a partial written exam and a final written exam, each making up 50% of the final grade, and both based on a mix of multiple-choice and open questions.

  • Multiple choice questions aim to test the students’ knowledge of the fundamental concepts about different political institutions, and the links between institutions and accountability and responsiveness.
  • Open-ended questions aim to assess students’ ability to evaluate the quality of political representation in a given system and identify the ways in which it can be improved. In addition, open-ended questions test students’ ability to discuss the conditions under which different forms of citizen participation can succeed using examples from current political events.
  • The partial exam focuses on the readings covered in the first two sections of the course, which mainly survey different variety of democratic institutions and voting behavior.
  • The final written exam is comprehensive and cover all the topics including the third section of the course on non-traditional forms of participation.


Written general exam (100% of the finale grade) based on a mix of multiple-choice and open questions, which aims to assess the student’s ability to describe the main theoretical and empirical findings contained in the readings covered over the course of the semester.

Teaching materials


The required readings for this course are scientific articles and book chapters that represent the key and/or state of the art contributions to the different topics analyzed. A complete list of the required and suggested reading are provided at the beginning of the course and are available on Bboard.

Last change 01/06/2019 16:46