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Renske's Teaching


Comparative Politics (term 1, 2, 3) PO233

(BA Programme, Optional Module for second-year students)

module website (current students)

module website (prospective students)

Why do political regimes and institutions develop how they do, where they do? What does democracy mean? How do people view democracy, and are there different opinions around the world? Why are some countries democratic and others not? The second-year module ‘comparative politics’ introduces the core issues, methods, and concepts in the field, and students learn how to develop academic research projects and film projects related to topics of the module.

Research projects: Students work on their own individual research proposal (of around 3,000 words) on the topic ‘what, why democracy’ in which they develop an interesting and relevant research question, describe the relevant theories, critically assess concepts and measurements, compare countries using the appropriate methodology, collect and analyse empirical data, and draw conclusions. The aim is to put research-led teaching into practice.

Film projects: Students will get the opportunity to develop other skills, such as film making and working together in small groups. Students will make their own film (of around 3 minutes) on the topic ‘what, why democracy’ – hence applying their acquired academic, theoretical and empirical knowledge from this module. The aims are to develop new skills for students, use interdisciplinary approaches, and to put theoretical knowledge into practice.

‘What Why Democracy Festival’, for all students and staff Warwick): At the beginning of term 3, the Centre for Studies in Democratization will organize a ‘What Why Democracy Festival’. At this festival, students will get the opportunity to present both their academic research projects and their films on ‘what, why democracy?’ A talented film maker will be invited to present her own films related to democracy and other topics in the field of comparative politics, and she will watch and comment the work of the students of this module. The aims of such an event would be to build bridges between academics and film makers working on the same topics in comparative politics and to engage with global events and culture.

More information? Click here for short outline (open access) and here for full module outline (restricted access)

Comparative Politics (term 1 only) PO934

(MA Programme, Core Module for MA in Politics)

module website (current students)

module website (prospective students)

Why are some countries democratic and others not? Why do people use political violence in some places and times? What role does culture play in contemporary politics? What effects do different institutional designs have upon political outcomes? Why do different ethnic groups sometimes live together peacefully, and sometimes not? Why does the level of voter turnout vary across countries? Why is nationalism stronger in some places? The aims of the module are 1) to introduce students to the methodological and theoretical foundations of comparative approaches to political science; 2) to deepen their knowledge in a number of relevant areas of comparative political research; 3) to analyze and compare some of the current political developments in different countries around the world.

The aim of this course is to introduce students to key methodological and theoretical debates that underpin comparative research. The module will familiarize students with some of the main issues in comparative politics, such as how to compare countries, what is nationalism, explaining democratic transitions and consolidation, understanding different party systems and electoral systems, and causes of ethnic conflict. Students are expected to prepare a substantial piece of academic work that is well argued and well researched.

SUPERVISION PhD's and Postdocs

Renske is currently first supervisor of PhDs working on 'building political institutions in divided societies: the case of Iraq' and 'elites and democratic consolidation in Colombia and Venezuela'; she is second supervisor of other PhD projects in the field of comparative politics, while working with a CSD postdoc on political participation and democracy in Egypt. Renske is available to undertake PhD supervision in any areas that interconnect with her own research interests.

PREVIOUS TEACHING (selection - taught at Warwick University & Leiden University/ NL)

1. ‘Data Analysis and Interpretation’ (MA level)

2. ‘Democratisation and Development’ (MA level and BA level- third year)

3. ‘Introduction to Research Methods’ (BA level - first year)

4. ‘Methodology and Statistics’ (BA level - first year)

5. ‘Introduction to Political Science: Theories, Concepts, and Methodology’ (BA level - first year)