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School of Social Sciences

Student in the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons
BSocSc Politics and International Relations
Gain the skills to critical examine international and comparative politics.

BSocSc Politics and International Relations / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Comparative West European Politics

Unit code POLI21002
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit aims to:

Analyse and understand the differing approaches to governance exhibited in Western Europe, particularly in France, Germany, Austria, and Sweden. This analysis will be structured around a comparative perspective that is primarily based upon several key theories of democracy. As a result of taking this course, students will be well positioned to conduct further comparative and specialised area courses in the Third Year. 

Learning outcomes



Teaching and learning methods

20 hours of lectures over 10 weeks and 10 hours of tutorials over 10 weeks will be given, resulting in 30 hours in total. The aim will be to promote enquiry-based learning through the use of lectures, workshop formats, and open discussions. Blackboard will be used as a repository for the introductory lecture slides, presentation materials, and course information. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of the political and policy-making processes of contemporary Austria, France, Germany and Sweden.
  • Build a good understanding of the historical traits that have shaped the political culture in Austria, France, Germany and Sweden; 
  • Enhance their understanding of the political economy of Western Europe and of the impact of European Union membership on the political and economic landscape in the region;
  • Develop an understanding of several key theories of democracy and policy-making.

Intellectual skills

  • Develop their skills on the use of the comparative method in the study of political phenomena;
  • Enhance their ability to think critically about key developments in Western Europe affecting the entirety of the European continent, including the integration of the European Union.

Practical skills

  • Strengthen debating and public speaking skills through participation in tutorials.

Assessment methods

Essay: worth 40% 2,600 words

Exam: 2 hour exam worth 60%

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

Recommended reading

Preliminary Reading:

Josep M. Colomer, Comparative European Politics. Third Edition, Routledge, 2008. Chapters 3, 4 and 8.

M. Donald Hancock et al Politics in Europe (5th edition, Macmillan: 2011, or earlier 2011, 2007 and 2002 editions). Sections on France, Germany and Sweden.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Paul Tobin Unit coordinator

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