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COURSE NAME: "Western European Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Nicholas James Startin
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 6:00 PM 7:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: PL 223
OFFICE HOURS: by email appointment

The course examines the political systems in Western Europe and major political developments affecting Western Europe since 1945 through a comparative lens. Looking at historical legacies, political cultures, types of government, and party systems shaping the major Western European powers, students will gain an understanding of the constitutive features, and transnational developments, challenges and changes in Western European states.

 -  The geopolitical origins of Western Europe

-   The evolution of the Western European State model

-   Comparative analysis of the political Systems of Western European countries with focus on The United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy

-   The process of European integration & the end of the 'Cold War'

-   Comparative analysis of the key, contemporary challenges faced by Western European Countries/EU

-   The future of the EU


Students will: 

acquire a detailed, comparative knowledge of the major political systems of Western Europe (France, Germany, Italy, UK)

understand and contextualise the main political challenges facing Western European states and the EU today

- develop the ability to think critically about the key political, social, geographical and historical challenges that define Western Europe

- develop analytical, critical thinking, writing and presentation skills



Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Politics in Europe (Seventh Edition)Hancock et. al. SageISBN: 9781506399089 E book or Hard opy Almost Corner Bookshop 

1 Policy PaperThis assessment consists of writing a policy paper which compares and contrasts two Western European democracies or looks at the evolution and the role of the European Union and its impact on Western European states. It can focus on the historical and/or contemporary context. The course instructor will provide a list of potential questions at the end of week 2 but students can also create their own question which needs to be approved by the course instructor by the end of week 3. The paper which should be 1500 words in length must be submitted electronically by the end of week 6 of the course.30%
2 Class participation and PresentationFor this assessment Students are required to give a short individual presentation on one of the challenges facing Western European countries in part 3 of the course. The topic must be approved by the course instructor and related to the topics in part 3. The presentation must be submitted to the instructor by email before presenting in class. The presentations will take place in weeks 10, 11, 12 & 13 of the course. The individual topics will be determined in week 7. 30%
3 Research PaperFor this assessment students are required to write a research paper on a contemporary aspect of the course which compares and contrasts two countries. Potential topics could be the role of government and the state, political parties, elections and electoral systems, referendums, party funding, interest groups, regional government or responses to challenges faced. The course instructor will provide a list of potential questions at the end of week 9. but students as with Assessment 1 can create their own question, subject to approval by the instructor. The research paper will be 2500 words in length. The deadline for the paper will be at the end of week 14 of the course. 40%

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.



Class attendance is mandatory. Students will not be penalized for three absences during the semester. If further  unauthorized absences are recorded, grade penalties will be applied to the outcome of 5% for each absence. N.B. You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam.

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.


Part 1: What is Western Europe?

1. The geopolitics and the historical development of West European politics in the post war era: An Introduction to the course:

2. The transformation of West European democracy in the post war era: The context of German and Italian politics

3. The Transformation of West European democracy in the post war era: The context of British and French politics

4. Multilevel European governance (1): The development of the European Union and European integration

5. Multilevel European governance (2): The end of the cold war, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the End of History?


Part 2: Comparing the major West European nation states (The United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy)

6. Government and the State: The West European model

7. Party Systems,& Political Parties

8. Elections, Electoral Systems & referendums

9. Interest groups and regional and local government


Part 3: Challenges to the (Western) European model

10. Euroscepticism & anti-globalisation sentiment

11. The impact of Brexit?

12. Populism, the Radical Right & Identity politics

13. Contemporary challenges and Crises: Climate Crisis, Economic and Cost of Living crises, Humanitarian/Migration crises, the COVID pandemic, War in Ukraine

14. The future of Europe and the (Western) European model: Integration/disintegration

There is a textbook for this course and other reserved reading will be advised.