Comparative politics

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of this course is to present some of the major topics of the current debate in the field of comparative politics, illustrate the way in which different quantitative and qualitative models help understanding the effects of different institutional setups, and thus provide an in-depth understanding of how the main political processes operate within democratic countries. The course fits into the overall organization of the Master programme by familarizing its students with the empirical test of theoretical oriented hypotheses, and with the relationships between political and economic arenas.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding: The course aims at improving the knowledge and understanding of the main institutional mechanisms and dynamics of modern democracies, and how they relate to a range of diverse political and economic effects. The course 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: By reviewing the original datasets associated to some of the readings in the syllabus, and by replicating and updating some of the models, 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, and/or present their own replication results, thus further developing their communication skills through oral presentations, and the preparation of slideshows.
Learning skills: At the end of the course, students should be more autonomous in the evaluation of scientific evidence in the field of political and economic phenomena,and should be capable of performing a quantitative test of their own research hypotheses. They should have thus developed or improved their analytical skills and capabilities, so that they could be apply them in a range of situations and environments.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Third trimester
Course syllabus
Attending students will be exposed to some of the most relevant debates within the field of political science on the actual functioning of modern democratic systems. Amongst the topics covered, we will review the empirical evidence concerning the causes of different levels of corruption, the congruence of preferences between government and citizens, the consequences of electoral and party systems, the performance of different institutional setups, and the relationship between economic and political phenomena. The course is entirely based on a reading list of articles published by the major international journals in the field, and adopts a quantitative approach. We will review the advantages and limits of this methodology, even by replicating some of the analyses proposed in the reading list.

The program for non-attending students focuses on the major institutional variables for the comparative analysis of different democratic political systems, and partially overlaps with the program for attending students. The Handbook on political institutions (Gandhi and Ruiz-Rufino) serves as a broad introduction to the variegate institutional setups of democracies, whereas Gallagher's edited volume focuses mostly on the origins, functioning and consequences of electoral systems.
Prerequisites for admission
Although there are no formal prerequisites, a previous knowledge of political science and comparative politics is recommended. In case you haven't any Bachelor's experience with these topics, the following handbook (already suggested for the admission interview) is a good way to fill the gaps: Clark W.R., Golder M. and Golder S.N., Principles of Comparative politics, Washington DC, CQ Press 2012.
It is important to have a basic understanding and familiarity with the use of quantitative methods in the social sciences, including the use of statistical packages like Stata.
Teaching methods
The course for attending students is a varying mix of frontal lectures, group works, individual presentations, and exercises with statistical packages.
Teaching Resources
Attending students will receive a complete reading list for the beginning of the course. To have an idea of its structure, students can take a look at last year's syllabus in the Ariel web pages of the course.

Non-attending students need to study the following books:
J. Gandhi and R. Ruiz-Rufino (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Comparative Political Institutions, London: Routledge 2015
M. Gallagher and P. Mitchell (eds.), The Politics of Electoral Systems, Oxford: Oxford UP 2006.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Attending students are assessed according to the following criteria:
Attendance and participation: 10%
Intermediate written exam: 30%
Final written exam: 45%
Research work: 15%
Written exams are mainly aimed at verifying the students' knowledge and understanding, and will take different forms, Including open questions, multiple choice questions and exercises. Presentations, group works and class discussions (together with some of the written questions) mainly verify their capacity to apply that knowledge.
Non-attending students' knowledge and understanding is assessed in written exams, mostly using open questions.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 9
Lessons: 60 hours
Due to the Covid emergency, office hours are organized online on demand, even besides the official office hours. Send me an email to reserve your meeting on Microsoft Teams.
Room 305 - 3rd floor