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 SSC 251 - Foundations of Comparative Politics


Foundations of comparative politics provides you with an overview of the key concepts, theories and issues to analyze and compare political systems. This is done using the research tools of ‘mainstream’ political science: empirical research either of a qualitative or quantitative nature that seeks to describe and/or explain political phenomena. The course provides an overview and analysis of the core structures and institutions of political systems by examining the position of the state and studying its internal structures and  functioning and looking at political behavior of its citizens.

This semester’s course theme is: the state of democracy on five continents. Every student will adopt a country from six groups that represent different regions in the world and study it by reviewing and integrating scholarly work on the political system at hand. Two books will introduce you to the study of comparative politics: a textbook and a monograph. Hague and Harrop’s Comparative Government and Politics provides you with the basic conceptual and theoretical tools needed to understand politics. We supplement the  chapters of that book with a selection of scholarly articles that further illuminate main themes in comparative politics. Putnam’s Making democracy work is an in depth study of the interaction between political culture and political institutions and the way they affect governmental performance and has since it publication been an instant classic. We will jointly analyze the book in five specific sessions where you will study it on the basis of specific questions in class.



Political Science


  • Any 100 level social science course (so it is possible to enroll in this course without having taken SSC 151 Introduction to Political Theory​).

Required for

This course is required in order to take the following course:

  • SSC 352 European Union Politics

This course is an alternative requirement for the following courses:

  • SSC 331 Faces of the State: A View from Anthropology 
  • SSC 354 Security in the Post-Cold War Era 
  • SSC 356 Public Policy Analysis​