POL 310: Comparative Politics: Theory and Research

Dr. John J. Quinn
Comparative Politics: Theory and Research
POL 310
Office: McClain 206D x4578

Required Texts                      Assignments and Grading

This course will outline in broad parameters the core ideas and historical and theoretical approaches to comparative politics in American political science.  As the field is very broad and ever increasing, we will emphasize a more traditional approach to study the field. We will first explore some historical and methodological underpinnings of comparative politics.  Then we will examine some major past and present trends / theories/ developments in comparative politics.  We will pay particular attention to the study of the mechanics of politics comparatively (especially in democracies).  We also will write a hypothesis testing paper examining some key ideas from the field. Also, students will learn about current events in one region of the world as well as learning about the major political and social institutions in one other country.

Required texts:

Brown, Bernard E. Comparative Politics: Notes and Readings. 10th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1996.  

Lijphart, Arendt.  Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and performance in Thirty-Six Countries. 2nd Edition.  New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. 

There will also be assigned readings posted on Brightspace.

Recommended texts:

Huntington, Samuel P.  The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991. [a shorter article version of it will be on Brightspace].


Assignments and Grading

During the course, there will be three major exams (including the final), a country paper, papers summarizing news for a region, and several papers preparing for the research paper, the research paper, and a grade for participationEach student is responsible for bringing a blue book on the day of any examAlso, bring a pen or two to write withBut all writing must be legible: writing I cannot read does not constitute a valid answer.  Each exam counts for 150 pointsThe country paper counts for 100, and final version of the second for 150 pointsThe regional papers will average to 100 pointsHowever, the second paper, (i.e., the research paper), is also associated with several building components, worth 25 points each (summing to 100 points)Each one becomes a building block (including responding to prior comments) for the final version of itGrading for each component will emphasize the newest additions, but papers can be marked down for no improvements or ignoring commentsThus, this part of the class is worth 250 pointsThe remaining 100 points will be for attendance/ participationGood participation and comments reflect that students have read and have an initial understanding of the materials. Attendance will be taken nearly every day, but participation is what will matter the mostHowever, just showing up and never participating (or not participating in a constructive manner) will only result in a grade of about 78% of the total. [So being an ever-present bump on a log will have a score of a C+.]  Therefore, there are 1000 points in the class This course fulfills the writing enhanced criteria as it requires two major papersImportantly, the short papers serve as building blocks for the research paper; revision in response to comments is expected for each part.