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Comparative politics - Structure
Comparative politics - Structure


MARCO GIULIANI , responsible for the course

Degree in ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE (EPS) Classi LM-56/LM-62 Enrolled from 2014/2015 academic year - Laurea Magistrale - 2018/2019

Compulsory course or activityyes
Year of course1s
Term or semester3rd term
Scientific fields (settori scientifico-disciplinari)
  • SPS/04 - Scienza politica
ECTS credits (CFU) compulsory9
ECTS credits - facultative-

General information

Aims and objectives: 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 and 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 provides 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, or their own research results, thus further developing their communication skills through oral presentations, and the preparation of slideshows. Non-attending students will have to understand and summarize the content of the books covered by the program, thus developing a capacity of synthesizing the relevant literature and/or presenting the major findings in a certain research field.
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 can be applied in a wide range of situations and environments.

Language of instruction: English

Teaching methods: Lectures, presentations, exercises with statistical packages.




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. Among 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.

Syllabus - non-attending students: The program for non-attending students covers approximately two of the major topics tackled in the one for attending ones, ie. electoral and party systems. Yet, the material used is different, in order to grant more homogeneity of presentation, and favour learning and understanding. The first edited book is more descriptive, and presents the actual working and dynamics of the electoral systems of several democratic countries. The second one deals with different aspects of the comparative analysis of political institutions.

Short course description english flag

The course of Comparative politics is thought as an advanced course in the comparative analysis of political systems for students that have already followed one or two BA courses in political science. It aims at introducing the student to some of the most debated topics within the field of comparative politics, and provides several examples of how quantitative analysis helps understanding the way in which electoral and party-systems operate within democratic countries, as well as the complex relationship between political institutions and their performance.

Readings: 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.

Readings - non-attending students: M. Gallagher and P. Mitchell (eds.), The Politics of Electoral Systems, Oxford: Oxford UP 2006;
J. Gandhi and R. Ruiz-Rufino (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Comparative Political Institutions, London: Routledge 2015
(This program starts with the June 2019 session, although in that same session non-attending students can still bring the books of the old program).

Prerequisites, exams and assessment

Type of assessmentEsame
Assessmentvoto verbalizzato in trentesimi

Prerequisites, exams and assessment 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.
Presentation and discussions. and some of the written questions mainly verify their capacity to apply that knowledge.

Prerequisites, exams and assessment - non attendant students 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.

Propaedeutical courses 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.

Structure of the course

Scientific fields

  • SPS/04 - Scienza politica - Credits: 9

Lezioni: 60 hours

Teachers ' office hours

Teacher's office hours
TeacherOffice location
MARCO GIULIANI , responsible for the courseMartedì : 14.30-17.30Stanza 305 - 3° piano

Further information

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.