Introduction to Comparative Politics - PO327

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR P Dardanelli







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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

11 lectures, 16 seminars (One seminar per week for 11 weeks, with a reading week at half term, to discuss lecture and reading topics, plus an additional five seminars (one seminar per fortnight) to explore data analysis.)

Method of assessment

50% coursework (essay of 2000 words), 50% exam (2hr - two parts; set of multiple choice questions, and an essay answering one of six questions)

Indicative reading

Hague, Rod and Martin Harrop. 2013. Comparative Government and Politics - An Introduction. 9th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will:
Understand what is meant by comparative politics and be familiar with the comparative method.
Be familiar with the main debates and issues in the comparative study of political institutions and processes.
Be able to classify political systems according to different criteria.
Possess a basic understanding of how executive, legislative and judicial institutions are structured.
Possess a basic understanding of how citizens behave politically in relations to such institutions.
Possess a basic understanding of the intermediate actors that link citizens and government (such as political parties, interest groups and the media).
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.

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