Comparative politics

A.A. 2019/2020
Insegnamento per
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
Obiettivi formativi
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.

Struttura insegnamento e programma

Edizione attiva
Lezioni: 60 ore
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 turnout, 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.
Informazioni sul programma
Students have to follow at least 80% of the classes in order to be considered attending. Attending students are expected to take the mid-term and the final exam during the course, and they will have a limited number of opportunities to take it with the same program after the end of the course.
Please note that the program and the evaluation for non-attending students are completely different.
An introductory course in political science and comparative politics is highly recommended. Basic statistical competences and the knowledge of the methodological problems of research design in the social sciences are another prerequisite.
Prerequisiti e modalità di esame
Attending students will be assessed according to the following criteria:
Attendance: 10%
Presentation and discussion: 30%
Intermediate written exam: 30%
Final written exam: 30%
Written exams are mainly aimed at verifying the students' knowledge and understanding, and will take different forms, though they will be mostly based on open questions.
Presentations, group works and class discussions (together with some of the written questions) mainly verify their capacity to apply that knowledge.
Metodi didattici
Lectures, group works, individual presentations, exercises with statistical packages.
Materiale didattico e bibliografia
A complete syllabus will be prepared for the beginning of the course. To have an idea of its organization, take a look at last year's syllabus in the web pages of the course.
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.
Prerequisiti e modalità di esame
Non-attending students will be assessed through a written exam covering both books listed in the program.
The exam may take different forms, but it will be mostly based on open questions verifying knowledge and understanding of the two books. By comparing national chapters and/or commenting tables, graphs and models, students will be assessed even in their capacity to apply that knowledge and understanding in varying contexts.
Materiale didattico e bibliografia
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;
Terzo trimestre
Terzo trimestre
Modalità di valutazione
Giudizio di valutazione
voto verbalizzato in trentesimi
Martedì : 14.30-17.30
Stanza 305 - 3° piano - Il prossimo ricevimento sarà il 10 settembre
Martedì dalle 14.30 alle 17.30 (in altri momenti solo previo appuntamento via mail). Prossimo ricevimento: 17 Settembre
Stanza 203, edificio via Livorno - 1° piano