This course is an introduction to the use of the comparative method in the field of political science. We pursue both implicit comparison, by contrasting various countries' differing political institutions and political dynamics, and explicit comparison, by testing hypotheses, primarily with the quantitative approach. Knowledge and understanding: The course provides introductory knowledge and understanding of modern democracies' most important institutional mechanisms. It focuses mainly on electoral systems, party systems, legislative-executive relationships, and the performance of political systems. Applying knowledge and understanding: Students learn how to apply concepts and methods to the analysis of everyday political problems, in order to critically read articles in leading newspapers, blogs, and weekly journals. They will also use statistical tools to perform simple quantitative analyses. Making judgements: Students learn how to use their newly acquired skills to formulate informed judgements and to apply these to the normative problems of contemporary societies. Communication and learning skills: Students develop communication skills by preparing and presenting short essays that illustrate the results their individual or collective work has yielded, thus improving their capacity to identify a research question, find and independently verify different sources of information, transform them into datasets, propose a feasible research strategy, and uncover (positive or negative) evidence to support or refute the original hypothesis.
The course for attending students compares the institutional organization and functioning of two opposite models of democracy: Consensus oriented and Westminster systems. It provides the tools for comparing systematically 36 different democractic systems, and investigating the outcomes produced by those opposing institutional setups.
The course for non-attending students helps reflecting around the different institutional organization of modern democratic systems, questioning the stereotypes and common wisdom regarding their actual functioning.