Carnegie Mellon University

Comparative Politics

Course Number: 84-275

This course is an introduction to the subfield of Political Science called Comparative Politics. Scholars in this subfield 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 presidentialism to 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. Throughout the course, the discussion will focus mainly on the Americas and Europe, but not exclusively. Students will be required to apply the comparative methods discussed in the course to make in-class presentations about different countries.

Academic Year: 2020-2021
Semester(s): Spring
Required/Elective: Required
Units: 9
Location(s): Pittsburgh (remote-only instruction)

Learning Objectives

This course is an introduction to one of the main subfields in political science, called Comparative Politics. Comparativists use qualitative and quantitative 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. Domestic politics affect your everyday life; in this course we will start to unveil how.

Course Goals:
1. Understand the main theories, concepts, and methods of Comparative Politics.
2. Identify how the comparative politics literature has contributed to our understanding of domestic politics.
3. Have a general knowledge about the main subjects analyzed by comparativists, and a deeper knowledge of a specific topic, that students will develop for the course presentations.
4. Explain how some of the most important political institutions work and vary across countries.
5. Recognize why people tend to participate in politics and engage in violent political behavior.
6. Identify the consequences of political behavior and political institutions.

Spring 2021
Monday and Wednesday
2:20 - 3:40 PM (remote-only instruction)

Required course for the following IPS degrees:
B.S. International Relations and Politics
Additional Major in International Relations and Politics
B.S. Economics and Politics
Additional Major in Economics and Politics
Minor in International Relations and Politics
Minor in Cybersecurity and International Conflict