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Introduction to Comparative Politics - POL00013C

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Pavlos Vasilopoulos
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

The course aims at introducing students to major topics around comparative politics (the nation-state, democratic & authoritarian regimes, democratization, interest groups, political parties, political systems & major cleavages).

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The module introduces students to the core conceptual debates and key issues that have shaped – and continue to shape – the field of Comparative Politics. It provides an overview of its dominant basic questions, theories, and empirical research. While international politics concerns itself with the study of political phenomena that occur predominantly between countries, Comparative Politics concerns itself with the study of political phenomena that occur predominantly within countries. The module focuses both on the study of democracies and autocracies. The module will analyse the concept and organization of the state, political parties, institutions, social cleavages, electoral systems and elections, presidentialism and parliamentarism. Throughout the module, examples from various countries and cases around the world are used to clarify theories and highlight the importance of comparison as a method of political explanation.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Be able to identify the core theoretical approaches to the study of comparative politics and to demonstrate knowledge of the multiple issues associated with it (PLO1).

  • Use critical reasoning to analyse how key concepts such as the state, different forms of institutions and collective action problems have been used to study political problems (PLO2).

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the way in which scholars have used comparison to explain how certain institutions emerge in certain countries compared to others and their consequences for governance, stability, and policy outcomes (PLO1, 5).

  • Present arguments using facts and key concepts and according to academic conventions in Comparative Politics, both orally and in writing (PLO 5).

Module content

Week by week outline

Week 1: Introduction – What is comparative politics & the comparative method

Week 2: Nations and States

Week 3: Regimes- Democratic States

Week 4: Regimes- Authoritarian States & Hybrid Regimes

Week 5: Democratization & Democratic Backsliding

Week 6: Interest Groups

Week 7: Bureaucracies

Week 8: Political Systems (Parliamentarialism v. Presidentialism)

Week 9: Electoral Systems

Week 10: Political Parties

Week 11: Social Cleavages


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Almond, G. A., & Verba, S. (1963). The civic culture: Political attitudes and democracy in five nations. Princeton university press.

Hague, R., & Harrop, M. (2019). Comparative government and politics (Vol. 6). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Newton, K., & Van Deth, J. W. (2021). Foundations of comparative politics: democracies of the modern world. Cambridge University Press.

Putnam, R. D. (1992). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton university press.

Robinson, J. A., & Acemoglu, D. (2012). Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity and poverty (pp. 45-47). London: Profile.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.