Understanding Political Institutions - PO953

Sorry, this module is not currently running in 2019-20.







The aim of the module is to enable students to develop an advanced understanding of central questions in comparative politics. Students will examine questions that have been of enduring interest to comparative political scientists including the origins and influence of the state, the causes and consequences of authoritarian and democratic forms of government and variations within these regime types for governmental performance including the operation and function of key political institutions. As students engage with these questions they will also be introduced to theoretical, conceptual and methodological questions and debates within comparative politics and will explore the interaction between economic, social, historical, political and institutional factors in explaining similarities and differences in the political development of nations.


This module appears in:

Method of assessment

100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Clark, W Golder, M and Golder S, 2013, Principles of Comparative Politics, Sage
Brady, H. and D.Collier (eds) 2010 Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards. Rowman and Littlefield
Cheibub, José Antônio. 2007. Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy. Cambridge University Press
Lichbach, Mark Irving, and Alan S. Zuckerman. 2009. Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure. Cambridge University Press
Munk, G and Snyder, J. 2007 (eds) Passion, Craft and Method in Comparative Politics, John Hopkins University Press
Tsebelis, George. 2002. Veto players : how political institutions work. Princeton University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Demonstrate critical awareness of the substantive, theoretical and empirical questions addressed by scholars of comparative politics.
Demonstrate the ability to critically and systematically evaluate different theoretical perspectives and empirical methods used in comparative politics and assess the basis on which they contribute to our knowledge of politics.
Be able develop arguments and make critically informed judgements about the origins and organisation of the state, dictatorship and democracy, and the operation and consequences of key political institutions for governmental performance.
Critically evaluate the role of social, economic, historical, institutional political contexts in which the nation state and its political institutions have developed and functioned.
Make informed judgements demonstrating the ability to use and critically evaluate a range of comparative and case specific evidence to support their arguments.
Apply this theoretical and conceptual knowledge to develop a self directed and original understanding of and ability to resolve some key contemporary issues in advanced or developing states.

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