Course 2016-2017 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 23
BIG (6 credits - II sem. - OB  |  M-STO/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 23 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of the origins, functions, and effects of political institutions in historical perspective, paying particular attention to their dynamics (that is, how different institutions appeared and how they changed over time). It relies on the critical reading and discussion of research papers that apply theoretical insights and empirical tools to engage in major debates about the nature and consequences of political institutions. In this way, this course builds on students’ earlier work in their degree, and hence integrate material from a variety of disciplines, such as political sciences, international relations, political philosophy, economics, and history.

Intended Learning Outcomes
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Course Content Summary

The course is expected to examine what types of political institutions form, why they form, what they do, and how they evolve. In particular, it presents students with a series of debates related to the rise and consolidation of states in historical perspective, reviewing current (and some classic) works on the subject.These debates include, for example, why nation-states came to dominate over other state forms (such as empires or city-states), which role elites played in state formation, in which ways the functions of the state began to take shape, or how state capacity was built and sustained in different places and times.

Teaching methods
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Assessment methods
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Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Assessment of this course will be only via written examinations, in two alternative ways:
  • via coursework (a combination of several pop quizzes during the term, a take-home essay assignment, and a final exam);
  • via a single general exam.


Because one of the aims of the course is to present students with diverse views on the topics discussed, and make them think critically about them, it cannot use a single textbook.
  • The main readings will be a series of academic articles and book chapters that will be detailed at the beginning of the course.
  • Additional materials (hand-outs, lecture notes, occasional articles, etc.) will be distributed during of the course.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 13/05/2016 12:29