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Comparative Politics (PO934)

Why do political regimes and institutions develop how they do, where they do? 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? This module introduces the core issues, methods, and concepts of comparative politics. It provides a broad range of methods and approaches of comparative political science.

Programme content

By the end of the module students should possess an excellent knowledge of key methodological debates in comparative politics and skills of comparative analysis which enable them to analyze, interpret and compare a number of countries. They should also have an understanding of key issues in comparative politics and the ability to produce an analytical piece of comparative research.

The aim of this module 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, and how to explain democratization. Students are expected to prepare a substantial piece of academic work that is well argued and well researched.

Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics; the precise seminar content and order may change slightly from year to year.

  • What is comparative politics?
  • How to compare countries? Case selection and the comparative methodology
  • What is regime change? Conceptualization and Measurement
  • How to explain regime change? What are waves of democratization? Theory and Empirical Evidence
  • Ethnic identity and nationalism
  • Building institutions in divided societies
  • Globalisation and democracy
  • Comparative politics in practice & new directions


Module Director:

Ozlem Atikcan