Skip to main content

Contemporary Themes in Comparative Politics (PO132)

How can we account for the differences between autocracies and democracies? What different institutional forms does democratic government take? Are some institutions more likely than others to produce desirable social outcomes such as responsiveness and political stability? Are there constitutional choices that might encourage successful democratic consolidation in ethnically divided countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan? What drives secessionist movements around the world? How do people make up their minds in referendums? And why did the British public vote to leave the European Union? This module provides an introduction to the study of real-world politics through the eyes of comparative politics scholars. Specifically, we will learn competing (theoretical) arguments linked to such questions – timeless and topical at the same time -- in the lectures. In the seminar group meetings, in turn, we will learn how to study them empirically by comparing cases in a systematic way. In the process, the issues raised will challenge us not only to think, analyse, and write with creativity and rigor, but also learn how to study them in different ways. This module is an excellent choice for students with an interest in questions linked to democracy and democratization, including the break-down of authoritarian regimes, ethnic conflict, and globalization.

Programme content

This module explores a number of cutting edge research topics and is supported by the on-going research work within the department, notably the Centre for Studies in Democratisation. Students choosing this module will be challenged by the complexity of the questions under study that have no black-and-white answers. This module aims at giving students the tools to effectively interrogate the challenges associated with democracy and democratization through engaging and insightful lectures, high-quality readings, problem-oriented seminar meetings, and group tasks.


Module Director:

Tatiana Coutto

Sample reading list (PDF Document)


This module is worth 15 CATS