The primary objective of the course is to introduce the key topics in the study of political science and the key tools for the study of politics. The material will cover the origin of states, regime determinants, regime transitions and consequences, the problems with group decision-making, legislative-executive relations, electoral systems, parties and party systems, political cleavages, institutional veto players, and the consequences of democratic institutions.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, the students will be able to a) understand key topics in the study of political science, especially concerning the origin of modern states, the nature of regimes, their transitions and consequences, problems associated with group decision-making, and important features of modern democracies (including legislative-executive relations, electoral systems, parties and party systems, political cleavages, institutional design and their policy consequences); b) assess critically this knowledge with the use of analytical tools employed in the study of politics, including the comparative method, game theory, qualitative case studies, statistical analysis and research design aspects related to the measurement and operationalization of key political concepts; c) develop the ability to critically assess important scientific contributions and gradually build a critical-analytical approach to many of the important normative questions facing citizens and political leaders.
Topics: Introduction to the course What is Science? What is Politics? The Origins of the Modern State Democracy and Dictatorship The Economic Determinants of Democracy and Dictatorship Cultural Determinants of Democracy and Dictatorship Democratic Transitions Does a Regime Make a Difference? Varieties of Dictatorship Problems with Group Decision Making Parliamentary, Presidential, and Semi-Presidential Democracies Elections and Electoral Systems Social Cleavages and Party Systems Institutional Veto Players Consequences of Democratic Institutions
Prerequisites for admission
Being a first year exam, there are no prerequisites other than those required for admission to the degree course
The main teaching method consists of lectures, but there may be thematic seminars proposed to students who, organized in small groups, will have to discuss, analyse and report their results to the whole classroom.
Attending students (9 credits): Principles of comparative politics (Clark, Golder and Golder, 2019, SAGE), only the lessons covered in class. Attending students (12 credits): Principles of comparative politics (Clark, Golder and Golder, 2019, SAGE) Non-attending students (9 credits): Principles of comparative politics (Clark, Golder and Golder, 2019, SAGE) Non-attending students (12 credits): Principles of comparative politics (Clark, Golder and Golder, 2019, SAGE), Chapter 11 (Institutions: general observations), 13 (Bureaucracy and intergovernmental relations) and 14 (Leadership) of Shepsle, Kenneth A. Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior and Instititutions, 2nd Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam evaluates the knowledge of the topics covered in the course and the analytical skills developed during the course. For attending students, learning will be assessed through an intermediate exam that will take place in the middle of the course and a final exam. The two exams contribute equally to the final mark. Each exam is a written test which consists of a part with about 12 multiple choice questions, which contributes 15 points to the final mark, and two open questions worth nine points each, for a sum total of 33 points (equivalent to 30 cum laude). Non-attending students must take a final exam that covers all teaching material. The duration of each exam is one hour and thirty minutes. Students will have about thirty minutes to answer the multiple-choice part and one hour for the two open questions. A passing mark ranges from 18 to 30 cum laude. Dictionaries, glossaries and calculators can be used. The results of the intermediate test are communicated through Ariel.