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Unit information: Comparative European Politics in 2015/16

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Unit name Comparative European Politics
Unit code POLIM3026
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Perez-Solorzano Borragan
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an introduction to the political systems and political processes of European states. It is designed to address the key essential issues in the study of comparative European politics with reference to significant country cases that will help illustrate defining dynamics and trends. The unit is structured around institutions and actors allowing for an explicitly comparative approach. The unit begins by examining the purpose of comparison and the main concepts defining contemporary trends in European politics such as the role of the state, regime change and political cleavages. This is followed by a comparative analysis of political systems in Europe by focusing on the formal institutions of government such as the executives and parliaments, the role of political parties and civil society as mediators between citizens and decision-makers, the political activism of constitutional courts and the influence of the civil service. The final session will focus on the impact of the EU on national politics and governance.Aims:

The course will provide an introduction to the study of political institutions and processes in the member-states of the EU. In so doing it will allow students to develop a set of analytical tools, including simple models and quantitative measurements and to obtain a knowledge of the comparative method and its applications.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • To provide a broad and detailed knowledge of the political institutions and processes in European countries.
  • To understand of the role of different institutional rules and strategies in the production of political outcomes.
  • To develop the capacity to apply the knowledge gained during the course to the analysis of specific countries, political situations and problems.

Teaching Information

Seminars: During the 2-hour seminar, a relevant topic will be introduced by the unit director. Student will be engaged in discussion through individual presentations and by addressing the proposed issues for debate through selected exercises such as group work.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment: seminar presentations supported by a handout. The seminar presentation supported by a handout provides formative assessment of (1) the student’s grasp of the substantive issues associated with this unit and (2) the student’s ability to engage with that substantive material in an articulate, concise and persuasive way both verbally and in written form. Summative assessment: an essay at least 3,500 words long and no longer than 4,000 words long. A candidate may not do an assessed essay on the same topic as a seminar presentation. The assessed essay provides summative assessment of (1) the student’s substantive grasp of issues covered by this unit; (2) the student’s ability to engage with those substantive issues in an articulate, persuasive and critical manner in written form; and (3) the student’s ability to engage with the relevant literature and achieve and appropriate degree of depth which is still concise.

Reading and References

• Bale, T. (2008) European Politics. A Comparative Introduction: Palgrave, Basingstoke (2nd edition) • Almond, G. A. et al (2010) European Politics Today: Longman, New York and London (4th Edition) • Caramani, D. (ed.) (2011) Comparative Politics: Oxford University Press, Oxford (2nd edition) • Hay, C. and Anand Menon (2007) European Politics: Oxford University Press, Oxford.