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COURSE NAME: "Comparative Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Nicholas James Startin
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 4:30 PM 5:45 PM
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

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.

The course offers a comprehensive introduction to Comparative Politics drawing on global case-studies to identify similarities and differences. It focuses on democratic and non-democratic regimes - advanced democracies, communist and post-communist states as well as developing countries. It examines the role of the state, how nations and societies differ and the role of political institutions. It explores the importance of both political economy and political culture in helping to understand political systems and considers how political violence can shape a political regime. It also compares policy-making, elections, and political parties and examines the methodological toolkit associated with the study of Comparative Politics. Finally, It also analyses the impact of globalisation and populism on the contemporary political order. The cases covered are France, Italy, the UK, the USA, Russia, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Iran, and Nigeria. The class format includes lectures and discussion, group work and presentations.

Students will learn how to critically analyze processes and concepts related to different political systems.  They will be able to contextualize and explain the process of government and politics within differing systems and to relate this to current international events.  Students will apply critical analysis related to the changing realities of different political systems in a global context.  They will develop an ability to conduct  research and to organize and present their findings in a logical and independent way.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Essentials of Comparative Politics with Cases (7th AP Edition)O Neil et. al.Norton978-0-393-54224-0  EbookCorner BookshopAmazon (Online)

1 In-class presentationStudents are required to give a short individual presentation on a specific topic of their choice, approved by the instructor and related to the class program. An electronic version of the presentation must be submitted to the instructor by email prior to class. The presentations will take place in weeks 5 & 6 of the course. 30%
3 A research briefing paperThe assessment consists of 2,500 words on a topic of the student’s choice (related to any aspect of the class program). This will involve comparing two different case-studies and will be due on the last day of class in week 12. It must be submitted on Moodle. The title must be approved by the course leader by the end of week 7 of the course.30%
3 A final examThe final exam consists of an essay chosen from one of three proposed themes. The exam will take place in the week following week 14 of the course.30%
4 Class participation and attendanceRegular attendance and active participation in class is required. Students will not be penalized for three absences during the semester. If further unauthorized absences are recorded, grade penalties will be applied. The course instructor will give an overall mark for each student based on attendance and participation.10%

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 two absences during the semester. If further absences are recorded, grade penalties will be applied to the outcome of the ‘participation and presentation assessment which will reduce the score for the participation component by 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.



Week 1: An Introduction to the course and to Comparative Politics

Week 2: What is the State and its role?  

Week 3: Nations and Society

Week 4: Understanding Political Economy

Week 5: Political Violence 


Week 6: Democratic Regimes

Week 7: Developed Democracies 


Week 8: Non-Democratic Regimes 

Week 9: Communism and Post-communism

Week 10: Developing Countries

Week 11: Globalization and its challenges

Week 12: Populism and its challenges

Week 13: Challenges to the Contemporary political, global order

Week 14: Conclusions of the course and revision for final exam


Final exam (Date TBC)

Reserved reading will be advised.