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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Introduction to Comparative Politics

Unit code POLI10202
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course divides into three parts: (1) a theoretical section (lectures 1-8) which examines competing explanations of political power and introduces key concepts, (2) a comparison of the politics of UK and US (lectures 9-14), and (3) economic and political reform in contemporary China (lectures 15-19). The final lecture (20) provides advice on exam revision and technique. Part I introduces some key concepts used in studying democracy and its rivals, such as 'politics', 'government', 'state', 'sovereignty' and 'democracy' and discusses three major competing interpretations of political power. The material in this section is relevant for the other two parts of the course. Part II then compares the domestic political systems of two pluralist (or liberal) democracies or capitalist democracies--the United Kingdom and United States. Part III analyzes the process of political and economic reform in China.


POLI10202 Introduction to Comparative Politics provides a foundation for the study of comparative politics.  It introduces students to comparative politics and government through key concepts such as 'power', 'democracy', and 'the nation-state'; by examining leading models of political science; by comparing the politics of the United Kingdom and the United States of America; and by studying economic and political reform in contemporary China.  The course unit compares the politics of the UK and US since these two countries represent clear examples of relatively stable pluralist political systems within the context of a capitalist economy.  In contrast, reform in China provides an example of an authoritarian regime attempting to modernise economically while minimizing democratic reforms.  The course enables students to understand the features of different political systems and to ask who governs, how they govern, and what government does.

Learning outcomes

' Learn some of the basic concepts of political studies, such as political power, authority, the state, democracy, authoritarianism, and democratisation;
- Learn some of the basic research tools of political studies, such as conceptual analysis, comparison over time and space, causal explanation (i.e. what happens), and normative evaluation (i.e. whether what happens is good or bad);
- Develop a critical awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of theories of the state;
- Analyse political institutions, procedures and behaviour in the UK and USA;
- Analyse the workings of non-democratic regimes, focusing on China;
- Develop the ability to communicate ideas in writing and verbally.

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly Lectures & Tutorials

Assessment methods

One 2000 word essay worth 40% of the mark

One 2 hour examination in January worth 50% of the mark

Participation, worth 10% of the mark

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission.

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Russell Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks


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