The comparative method, in its widest meaning, represents the mainstream method for testing hypotheses in the field of political science. Comparisons may be both implicit or explicit, employ different techniques and range from intensive within case study analysis to complex multivariate quantitative models. The course introduces the students to the major topics of the current debate in the field of comparative politics, and will provide a detailed understanding of how the main political processes operate within democratic countries.
Knowledge and understanding: The course aims at improving the knowledge and understanding of the main institutional mechanisms and dynamics of modern democracies. It will focus mainly on electoral systems, party systems and issues of political economy.
Applying knowledge and understanding: Through the critical review of recent research articles published in the best international journals, students are expected to learn how to apply their knowledge to specific research questions, and how to cope with the methodological problems of empirical research. Political issues that could emerge during the course, or the own experiences of students coming from different countries, will be used in order to verify and apply the understanding of modern democracies.
Making judgements: Students will learn how to confirm or to falsify hypotheses, how to avoid fallacies and the major problems in understanding causal relationships. This will help them in making judgements that are consistent with the empirical evidence.
Communication skills: During the course, students will have to present and/or discuss the research articles included in the syllabus, thus further developing their communication skills through oral presentations, and the preparation of slideshows. Non-attendant students will have to prepare a brief paper as part as their overall evaluation, thus developing a capacity of synthesizing correctly the relevant literature and/or presenting correctly an empirical issue or research question.
Learning skills: At the end of the course, students should be more autonomous in the evaluation of scientific evidence, and should have developed or improved analytical skills and capabilities that could be applied in a range of situations and environments.