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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Political Science (PL SC)

PL SC 003U (GS;IL) Introduction to Comparative Politics (3) Introduction to study of comparative government and politics: normative/ empirical theories; government functions in modern societies; representative structures and processes.

PL SC 003U Introduction to Comparative Politics (3)

This course provides an introduction to comparative politics. The course has three primary objectives: (i) to introduce students to the major questions in comparative politics, (ii) to acquaint them with the field’s best answers, and (iii) to give them the tools necessary to think critically about those answers. The course views comparative politics as a subfield of political science, which, like all of science, is about comparison. In the course, students make many comparisons across disparate contexts and attempt to use such comparisons to test claims made about the political world. In doing so, they learn about the similarities and differences among countries, both democratic and authoritarian. They also learn about the conditions under which some claims about the political world apply or do not apply.

The course is organized around a set of questions that comparative scholars have asked repeatedly over the past several decades: What is the state and where did it come from? What is democracy? Why are some countries democracies whereas others are dictatorships? How might we explain transitions to democracy? Does the kind of regime a country has affect the material well-being of its citizens? Why are ethnic groups politicized in some countries but not in others? Why do some countries have many parties whereas some have only a few? What are the material and normative implications associated with these different types of government? How does the type of democracy in a country affect the survival of that regime? Using the latest research in the field of comparative politics, students examine competing answers to substantively important questions such as these and evaluate the proposed arguments for their logical consistency and empirical accuracy.

In addressing the substantive questions that comprise this course, students are introduced to a variety of methods that have become central to the study of comparative politics. For example, students are exposed to tools such as decision theory, social choice theory, game theory, and statistical analysis. Throughout the semester, students will have homework assignments to better familiarize themselves with the concepts, theories, and methods that they encounter.

There will be three exams to evaluate the extent to which students have learned the requisite material. There will also be a short final paper in which students must pull together the theoretical insights and empirical evidence that they gained throughout the semester.

General Education: GS
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Summer 2012

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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