Course 2014-2015 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
CLMG (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - M (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - IM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - MM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - AFC (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLAPI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLEFIN-FINANCE (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLELI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - ACME (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - EMIT (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

The course presents a broad, in-depth and up-to-date overview of the results of the scientific study of comparative politics, with special emphasis given to analytical and empirical approaches. During the course, students know the most important findings of contemporary comparative political science. Most importantly, students are acquainted with the analytical and scientific approach to the study of comparative politics and understand that many of the tools and concepts developed by the discipline turn potentially hard-to-untangle issues into tractable problems. In particular, students are exposed to the institutionalist perspective, which could be, somewhat simplistically, summarized with the aphorism “the rules of the game affect the outcome”. More specifically, the course shows how the outcomes of the political process (e.g., the policies implemented by the party that wins elections) depend on the interaction between social structure (e.g., the distribution of income) and the rules of the game (e.g., electoral system).

Course Content Summary

  • The State.
  • Authoritarian and democratic regimes; regime transitions: coups, democratization.
  • Varieties of autocracies.
  • Elections and electoral systems.
  • Accountability, corruption, clientelism.
  • Political representation: left and right, income redistribution, polarization.
  • Electoral campaigns, lobbies, interest groups.
  • Legislatures, parties, party discipline.
  • Presidents, prime ministers, coalitions.
  • Federalism and decentralization.
  • Non-economic dimensions of conflict in democratic regimes: religion, secularism and  ethnicities.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

For those attending lectures, there are three requirements. The first is a mid-term in-class exam, covering the first half of the course. The second is a final exam, covering only the second half of the course. Third, a final paper (approximately 5000 words) is due May 20. Paper topics should be discussed with the instructor by April 15. Grading is weighted as follows: midterm (25%), final exam (25%),paper (50%). 

For those not attending lectures, and therefore unable or unwilling to take the midtem exam, the midterm and the non-cumulative final exam are replaced by a longer final exam(worth 50% of the grade) covering the entire course content. Students who do not attend lectures also have to submit a paper (approximately 5000 words) one week before the exam date; also in this case, the topics need to be discussed with the instructor by April 15 and the paper grade will comprise 50% of the final grade.

Students who have NOT passed the exam yet for the previous year have to prepare the current program.


  • R.W. CLARK, M. GOLDER, S.N. GOLDER, Principles of Comparative Politics, CQ Press, 2013, 2nd ed.
  • Papers and articles (one or two per week/topic) will be available on electronic platforms at the start of the semester.
  • Please notice that the main textbook is not a substitute for the assigned papers and articles. This is particularly true for students who decide not to attend the lectures: the Clark, Golder and Golder text is not sufficient to successfully pass the exam. In any case, attendance is strongly recommended.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 07/07/2014 14:49