Introduction to Comparative Politics - POLI3270

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


The module introduces students to the empirical study of the key structures, institutions and processes in political life. It does so through the lens of the comparative method, in which political systems are compared and contrasted to test hypotheses about the factors producing similarities and differences across countries and over time. The module first introduces the comparative method, and then discusses the different ways in which political systems can be organized and classified. It focuses on the three key powers in all political systems – executive, legislative and judicial – the ‘intermediate’ actors that link people to their governments, namely political parties, interest groups and the media, and how citizens behave politically in relations to such institutions and actors. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to identify the factors and the processes leading to different political outcomes across states and over time and to use both qualitative and quantitative data to support their arguments.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 27

Private study hours: 123

Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

* Essay, 2000 words (50%)
* Exam, 2hrs (50%)

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

* Hague, Rod, Martin Harrop and John McCormick. 2016. Comparative Government and Politics – An Introduction. 10th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

* Caramani, Daniele (ed.). 2017. Comparative Politics. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. understand what is meant by comparative politics and be familiar with the comparative method

2. be familiar with the main debates and issues in the comparative study of political institutions and processes

3. classify political systems according to different criteria

4. demonstrate a basic understanding of how executive, legislative and judicial institutions are structured

5. demonstrate a basic understanding of how citizens behave politically in relations to such institutions

6. demonstrate a basic understanding of the intermediate actors that link citizens and government (such as political parties, interest groups and the media)

7. be familiar with some of the major data sources in the sub-field of comparative politics and with how they can be used to explore key questions addressed by the sub-field


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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