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

INSTRUCTOR: Bogdan Gabriel Popescu
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 8:30 AM 9:45 AM

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.

Comparative Politics is both a subject and a method of study. Its goal is to understand variation in important political outcomes across countries and time. The course examines the nature, development, structure and functioning of the political systems of countries with very different cultures, social and economic profiles, political histories and geographic characteristics. The course attempts to answer the following large questions:

- What distinguishes democratic from non-democratic regimes? Why do some countries democ- ratize whereas others do not? Do democracies perform better than non-democratic regimes in the provision of public goods?
- What are the causes and consequences of different political institutions? What determines their subsequent development?

Before addressing such questions, we need to think about how we should address them. Broadly speaking we address questions by generating hypotheses and then testing them with empirical evidence. These gives rise to two further general issues:

- What hypotheses should we test? Hypotheses are associated with different theoretical schools or approaches within political science.
- What evidence should we use in generating and testing hypotheses? Should we focus on a small number of cases and study them in depth? Or should we include as many cases as possible, using statistical techniques to analyze the data?

These are questions of comparative method, and multiple methods are used in Comparative Politics. The course will convene twice a week. The first session will be a lecture, while the second session will have presentations from students and a discussion. The aim is that by the end of the course you should be able to engage critically with questions falling under the headings of the broad questions outlined above. You should be able to respond to particular questions about the different topics of the course, drawing on the relevant literature and upon empirical evidence in order to develop and support cogent answers to those questions. You should also be able to think about theoretical arguments as well as empirical testing and evidence regarding such arguments.

Upon successful completion of this course the students will be able to:
- Engage critically with questions falling under the headings
- Use the comparative method for political topics
- Understand the advantages and disadvantages of different theoretical frameworks and research methodologies
- Think about theoretical arguments as well as empirical testing and evidence regarding such arguments. 

Contributions to Class DiscussionYou will be graded based on how well prepared you come to class. During the first session, there will be mostly a lecture, while the second session will be dedicated to student presentations and to a discussion. During the second session, students will have to demonstrate their knowledge of the readings, and their ability to engage in independent, critical thinking. References to current global issues will be a constant. Contributions to class discussion especially during the second session will represent 33% of the final grade.33
MidtermThere will be a mid-term in-class, closed-book exam, which will serve to test the improvement of students’ knowledge of the theories and facts developed in the first half of the course. 33
Final ExamThere will also be a final exam and will be comprehensive of all topics covered in the course. The exam will serve to test students’ knowledge as well as their ability to engage in pro-active, independent critical thinking.33

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.


Students are required to attend classes following the University’s policies. Students must attend classes and all exams in person on campus (unless otherwise required by the University). Students with a justified need to attend any exam remotely may do so only if express permission has been obtained from the Dean’s Office prior to the 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: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Week 2: State Formation and State Building

Week 3: Colonialism

Week 4: Conceptualizing Democracy

Week 5: Democratization

Week 6: Autocracies and Hybrid Regimes

Week 7: Political Parties and Party Systems

Week 8: Electoral Systems

Week 9: Electoral Systems

Week 10: Executives

Week 11: Legislatures

Week 12: Federalism

Week 13: Judiciaries

Week 14: Electoral Corruption and Clientelism