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COURSE NAME: "Comparative Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Costanza Hermanin De Reichenfeld
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 11:30-12:45 PM

As both a subject and a method of study, comparative politics examines the nature, development, structure and functioning of the political systems of a selection of countries with very different cultures, social and economic profiles, political histories and geographic characteristics. Through case studies, students will learn to use the comparativist’s methods to collect and organize the information and develop general explanations.
This course is designed to introduce students to the subfield of comparative politics. It will touch upon a basic set of concepts and ideas which comparative political scientists employ to analyze differences and similitudes in the present and future political life of any given political entity. From the onset students will learn how power is studied and practiced and gain analytical tools to better understand the challenges in the modern globalized world. The course will include the basic concepts and theoretical approaches in comparative politics as well as discuss case studies where the issues and theories are relevant. Among many important questions the course will examine are the nature of political regimes, public policy, political participation, the political economy, social movements, international organizations and globalization.   

From the onset students will learn the key issues in the current debate. Students will enrich their knowledge and skills in a way that will help them taking part in discussions about some of the most salient topics of our times and becoming more empowered and informed citizens. 



Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Essentials of Comparative PoliticsPatrick H. O’NeillW.W. Norton978-0393624588 latest available edition. desk copy is needed for professor
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and AbroadFareed ZakariaW.W. Norton978-0393331523  

Class attendance and participationClass Attendance and Participation: Regular attendance and active participation in class is required. Attendance requirements: A maximum of three absences are allowed throughout the semester. Any additional absence will result in a penalization of one grade level (e.g.: from B+ to B for five absences, B+ to B- for six absences, B+ to C+ for seven absences, etc.). Two latenesses count for one absence. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class by calling students’ names. Students not answering will be marked absent. Students arrived late will ask the instructor to be marked late at the end of the class, after which attendance records will not be modified. Use of Computers in class: The use of personal computers and technological devices in class is not permitted except for taking notes, or contributing to class activity during designated times. Students not respecting the rule will be penalized by getting no points in the Class Participation requirement (worth 10% of the final grade). Recording and filming in class is not allowed.10
Class presentationsIn-class Presentation(s): Students are required to give a short individual and/or a team presentation on a specific topic of their choice, approved by the instructor and related to the class program. The presentation will be well-organized, concise, and include (when opportune) audiovisual and electronic materials. A draft presentation must be submitted to the instructor before presenting in class. An electronic version of the presentation must be sent to the instructor on the day of the relevant class and/or uploaded in a shared drive. No materials will be accepted past the deadline.15
Final examThe exam consist of two parts of equal value. The first part is an essay related to aZaakaria's Book on The Future of Freedom. The second part of the exam consists of ten questions related to the topics addressed throughout the course and/or to relevant news.30
Final project with portfolioFinal project with portfolio Final Project: The final paper (3,000 words) will be on any topic of the student’s choice related to the class program. The topic should be precisely defined and worthy of investigation. An electronic version of the project must be sent to the instructor before November 30th. No materials will be accepted past the deadline. To produce the final project, students will receive further instructions in class. During the semester, students will show the instructor their final project work in progress and receive checks. Portfolio: In order to produce their final papers, students will keep a portfolio of research materials during the semester. The portfolio will be shared with, and evaluated by the instructor. The production of the final paper is a work in progress during the semester. The portfolio and the paper project are progressive steps toward completion of the final paper. A portfolio containing samples of reference materials must be attached to the final project.30
Mid term examThe mid term exam will consist of ten questions concerning the part of the programme covered in the first part of the course15

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


* readings may be changed or added according to class interest and progress


WEEK 1 Introducing Comparative Politics


Session 1 (September 2) Course Introduction

Session 2 (September 4) The Comparative Method



WEEK 2 States

Session 3 (September 9) The State Formation

Session 4 (September 11) Types of States


WEEK 3 Nations, nationalism, ethnicity

Session 5 (September 16) Nations and Society


Session 6: (September 18) Nationalism and ethnicity

WEEK 4 Political economy   

Session 7 (September 23) Political Economy


WEEK 5 Democracy

Session 8 (September 30) Political Economy (continued)

Session 9 (October 2) Defining democracy


WEEK 6 Non-Democratic Regimes

Session 10 (October 7) Library session


Session 11 (October 9) Measuring Democracy


Session 12 (October 11) Non-Democratic Regimes: Concepts and Types



WEEK 7 Developed and Illiberal Democracies

Session 13 (October 14) Developed Democracies

Session 14 (October 16) Illiberal Democracy


WEEK 8 Developing Countries

Session 15 (October 21):  Mid-term exam

Session 16 (October 23) Less Developed and Newly Industrializing Countries



WEEK 9 Globalization and Inequality

Session 17 (October 28) Globalization

Session 18 (October 30) Inequality


WEEK 10 Political Violence, Political Mobilization

Session 19 (November 4) Political Violence

Session 20 (November 6) Social Movements



Session 21 (November 11) The EU: federal state or international organization?


Session 22 (November 13) A European Union in crisis?


WEEK 12 Populism

Session 23 (November 18) Populism and Disengagement

Session 24 (November 20) Democratic Deconsolidation      

WEEK 13 The Internet and the Future of Democracy

Session 25 (November 25) The Internet and Democracy

Session 26 (November 27) Electoral Systems in the XXIst century



WEEK 14 Course Review

Session 27 (December 2) Course Review and Exam Preparation

Session 28 (December 4) Projects Review