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Comparative Politics

Course Number: 84-275

This course is an introduction to the subfield of Political Science called Comparative Politics. In this subfield we use comparative methods to study and compare domestic politics across countries. In this course, we aim to learn about how political systems differ, discuss why they differ and explore the consequences of such variation. The course is divided into four sections. In the first part, we will examine the main theories and methods used to conduct research in the subfield, and discuss the development and consolidation of the modern state. In the second section, we will examine political regimes, including variation among democracies and nondemocracies. In the third unit, we will study some of the countries' central political institutions. We will compare political systems (presidentialism, semipresidentialism, and parliamentarism) and examine legislatures, electoral systems, and political parties. In the final segment, we will scrutinize political mobilization and conflict. We will discuss interest groups, nationalism, social movements, protests, populism, clientelism, revolutions, civil wars, terrorism, and globalization.

The participation of students is central for the success of this course. You are encouraged to share your thoughts and doubts via Canvas, participate in small-group discussions each week, and participate in one group presentation that will demand you to apply the concepts and methods discussed in the course to other countries.


Academic Year: 2023-2024
Semester(s): Spring
Required/Elective: Required
Units: 9
Location(s): Pittsburgh

Learning Objectives

1. Restate central theories, concepts, and methods of Comparative Politics.
2. Appraise how the scholarly literature has contributed to our understanding of domestic politics.
3. Explain how some of the most important political institutions work and vary across countries.
4. Recognize why people tend to participate in politics and engage in violent political behavior.
5. Diagnose the consequences of political behavior and political institutions.
6. Develop arguments supported by the literature to address a question in comparative politics.
7. Work effectively in a diverse group.

Spring 2024
Monday and Wednesday
12:30-1:50 PM