POLIS 1104 - Introduction to Comparative Politics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2023

The Rise of China, India and the European Union, alongside other regional powers such as Japan and Russia, has raised questions about the United States' continued dominance in global politics and economics. It has also opened a debate about competing models of political and socio-economic development and their effectiveness in promoting economic growth, political stability and social equity. Employing theories, concepts and methods of Comparative Politics, this course compares and contrasts the developmental paths taken by major global and regional powers. While analysing their political history, political and economic systems, as well as political cultures and social issues, it also reflects upon the policy-making processes, the efficacy of diverse political and economic arrangements and solutions to critical social problems states and nations face in the early 21st century.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code POLIS 1104
    Course Introduction to Comparative Politics
    Coordinating Unit Politics and International Relations
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Incompatible POLI 1104
    Assessment SGD activities (20%), Individual submissions to group projects (10%), Online tests (25%), Open-book exam (45%)
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Czeslaw Tubilewicz

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    At the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
    1 Define the key terms in Comparative Politics
    2 Discuss the political history, institutions, political cultures, political parties, interest groups, political issues, cleavages, and the major political conflicts of various contemporary political systems
    3 Compare and contrast major aspects of democratic and non-democratic political systems
    4 Compare and contrast economic challenges facing developed and developing states
    5 Debate the role of a state in economic development
    6 Participate in group discussions about contested concepts with confidence and with tolerance for other points of view
    7 Navigate the large amounts of research material available in this subject through both traditional academic sources and through the use of information technology
    8 Demonstrate career readiness and leadership skills appropriate for beginning professional practice, including lifelong learning skills characterised by academic rigour, self-direction and intellectual independence
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The Course Reader is available online only.
    Recommended Resources
    In the past, this course used the text by Gabriel Almond, G. Bingham Powell, Russell J. Dalton and Kaare Strom (eds.), Comparative Politics Today: A World View. There should be numerous second-hand copies of this textbook if you wish to go beyond the Course Reader.

    Recommended academic readings are also made available on Myuni.

    Internet Resources

    General Reference Texts
    Clanchy, J and Ballard, B. Essay Writing for Students [Barr-Smith Library electronic resource]
    Bell, J. Doing your Research Project: A Guide for First- Time Researchers in Education and Social Science (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1993).
    The Chambers English Dictionary (Edinburgh: W & R Chambers (many editions))
    Fowler, H.W., The New Fowler’s Modem English Usage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).
    Gowers, E. The Complete Plain Words (London: Penguin, 1973).
    Manser, M.H. Bloomsbury Guide to Better English (London: Bloomsbury, 1994).
    The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Plotnik, A. The Elements of Editing: A Modem Guide for Editors and Journalists (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
    Strunk, W., Jr & E.B. White The Elements of Style (New York: Macmillan, 1979).
    Turabian, K.L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, (Chicago: Chicago U., 1967). (More recent edition available)
    Viet, R. Research: The Students’ Guide (New York: Macmillan, 1990).

    Politics Reference Texts
    Adams, I. Political Ideology Today (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993).
    Bogdanor, V. (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Institutions (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987).
    Dictionary of Government and Politics, 2nd Ed. (Teddington: Peter Collin Publishing, 1997).
    Evans, G. & J. Newnham The Dictionary of World Politics: A Reference Guide to Concepts, Ideas and Institutions (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992).
    Geuss, R. History and Illusion in Politics (Cambridge: CUP, 2001).
    Hadjor, K.B. The Penguin Dictionary of Third World Terms (London: Penguin, 1993).
    Kymlicka, W. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).
    Light, M. & J. Groom (eds) International Relations: A Handbook of Current Theory (London: Pinter, 1985).
    Miller, D. (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987).
    Paxton, J. (ed.) The Statesman’s Year-Book (London: Macmillan, 1964).
    Phillips, H. & C. Rielly Key Concepts in Politics (Melbourne: Nelson, 1982).
    Piano, J.C. & R. Olton (eds) International Relations Dictionary, 4th Ed. (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 1988).
    Ridd, M.A. Dictionary of Modem Political Ideologies (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987).
    Van Evera, S. Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).
    Weldon, T.D. The Vocabulary of Politics (London: Pelican, 1953).
    Year Book of International Organizations, 3 Vols (Munich, New York, London and Paris: K.G. Sauer, 1990-1).

    Internet Resources
    Comparative Politics: practice tests
    Comparative Politics, Working Papers at Yale University:
    Columbia University Resource Site:
    Electoral systems: https://www.ifes.org/ 
    Foreign Government Resources: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~graceyor/govdocs/foreignnew.html 
    Governments on the WWW: http://www.gksoft.com/govt/en/ 
    Poly-Cy Guide to Internet Resources for Political Science: http://crl.du.ac.in/Publication/E-Resources%20in%20Public%20Domain-Final/Political%20Science/Bird%27s%20Eye%20View/Websites/Internet%20Resources%20for%20Political%20Science.htm 

    Country Study Sites

    BBC Country Profiles: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm 
    CIA World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/ 
    Economist Country Briefings: https://www.economist.com/briefings 
    Human Development Reports: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/ 
    Library of Congress Country Studies: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html 
    The National Bureau of Asian Research: http://www.nbr.org/ 
    Political Database of the Americas: http://pdba.georgetown.edu/ 
    Profiles of Countries and Regions: http://www.imf.org/external/country/Index.htm 

    A Selection of Comparative Politics Journals:

    African Studies Quarterly
    Asian Survey
    Comparative Politics
    Comparative Political Studies
    Problems of Post-communism
    Third World Quarterly
    Journals in area studies (Routledge): http://www.tandf.co.uk/libsite/productinfo/journals/onlinecollections/politics/ 
    Cambridge series in comparative politics (books): https://www.cambridge.org/core/series/cambridge-studies-in-comparative-politics/C2F2ED993B592AAA0F256C7C2C0AD8B3
    Online Learning
    The POLI 1104 MyUni site contains announcements, copies of many course materials such as lecture notes, lecture recordings, assigned and recommended readings, a discussion forum, and links to useful web sites. You should check this site regularly.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lectures are to follow a face-to-face format, unless the pandemic forces us to move them to Zoom. Whether delivered face-to-face or via Zoom all lectures will be recorded and lecture recordings immediately posted online. Some tutorials (SGDs) will be held online, while some in-class.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    1 x 3-hour lectures per week 24 hours per semester
    1 x 1-hour tutorial per week 24 hours per semester
    2 hours tutorial preparation per week 24 hours per semester
    3 hours assignment preparation per week 36 hours per semester
    2 hours reading per week 24 hours per semester
    2 hours research per week 24 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week 1 What is Comparative Politics?
    Methods in Comparative Politics
    Week 2 States and nations
    Key concepts in Comparative Politics
    Week 3 The United States: political history and political system
    Week 4 The United States: domestic contests
    China: political history
    Week 5 China: political system and domestic contests
    Week 6 Comparing the USA and China
    The European Union: history of European integration
    Week 7 The EU: political institutions and processes; contemporary challenges
    Week 8 India: political history and political system
    Week 9 India: domestic contests
    Comparing the EU and India
    Week 10 Japan: political history and political system
    Week 11 Japan: domestic contests
    Russia: political history and political system
    Week 12 Russia: domestic contests
    Comparing Japan and Russia
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting
    Online tests Formative and Summative 50%
    Take-home exam Summative 50%
    Assessment Detail
    Online tests: students are expected to complete weekly online tests, as well as mid-term and final online tests.
    Take-home exam: students will sit a two-hour open-book exam at home in mid-June.
    For details regarding submission guidelines, please refer to the Course Guide.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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