Department of Political Science


POLS0002 Democracy and Authoritarianism

Course Code: POLS0002 (Previous name Comparative Politics)

Course Tutor: TBC (Term 1) and Dr Katerina Tertytchnaya (Term 2) (Department of Political Science)

Length: One term (Autumn Term or Spring Term)

Teaching: 20 contact hours

Assessment: Two 2,000 word essays (40/60%)

Credits: 15 credits, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS)

Module Level: L4 (Introductory)

Comparative politics; democracy; dictatorship; institutions; public attitudes

About this course

This course is an introduction to comparative politics: the study of domestic politics in different countries. Comparative politics emphasises the similarities and differences between states' political systems, both as important content about how politics is conducted around the world, and as a method for understanding general political processes. The course will cover formal political institutions and aspects of civil society, public attitudes and political culture, and how they interact to produce political and policy outcomes. Institutional topics include the nature of states and their development, democracy and dictatorship, and variation in democratic institutions and decision-making processes.

The primary objectives of this course are: to introduce students to the variety of political systems around the world, including both in-depth attention to one specific country, and larger scale global trends and cross-national comparisons. The course will also introduce students to core questions in comparative politics, and to the comparative method and subfield within the discipline of political science.

By the end of this course students will:

  • have an in-depth understanding of the politics of a country other than their own;
  • have a broad understanding of the variation in political systems found in different countries worldwide, including regime types, policy-making institutions, and the organisation of political competition;
  • understand variation in political culture, attitudes and preferences of individual citizens, and how these affect political outcomes;
  • understand how comparison and comparative methods help answer descriptive and causal questions about political phenomena.