El Camino College

Political Science 2
Comparative Politics

Political Science
Laurie Houske

Class Information
Couse Policies
Course Material
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Class Information:

Pol Sci 2-online, Section 4189

This course will be taught completely online. There will not be an on campus orientation but there are screenocast video links in Etudes to orient you to the class. The course is administered through Etudes.

Contact Information:


310-660-3593 x3741 

Office Hours:
SOCS 109
M                         10:15-11:15am

T                          9:00-9:30am
9:00-10:00pm-online(email me houskeonline@yahoo.com)
W                         10:15-11:15am
1:00-2:00pm-online(email me houskeonline@yahoo.com)
Th                         9:00-9:30am

Please feel free to visit/call me in my office if those office hours are more convenient or you are on campus. 



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Course Overview & Policies:

Welcome to Comparative Politics.  In this course we will analyze political systems of different countries in a comparative context.  We will evaluate the dominant theories relating to political development and use a variety of countries as case studies.  Themes we will evaluate are democratization, development, industrialization, modernization and globalization.

I will encourage everyone to stay up to date on current events as this will help in your understanding of the political process.  Additionally, you are required to maintain a political journal as one of your assignments.  Some suggested examples are: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc.

Exams:  There are 11 exams that you will take during the semester-9 chapter exams, a midterm, and a final. 

You are required to complete both a paper and political journal for this class.  Both are due towards the end of the semester but you have the option of turning them in early.

Any emails that are sent to me, please title the subject line as "PS2-online."

If you intend to drop the class, it is your responsibility to drop yourself.  I will not drop you.  If you do not drop yourself you will receive an “F” grade.  The last day to drop with a “W” is Friday, November 17, 2017.

I will attempt to answer your emails within a day of receiving them.  Please be aware that I teach a full schedule of classes so that I will not always be able to respond as fast as you or I might like.  I will not be checking emails on Sunday and will respond to weekend emails on Monday.

In order to be successful in this class you need to have strong study skills and be a self-motivator.  You will need good reading and writing skills as well as being organized.  Finally, you will need minimal computer skills and it will be hard to "learn as you go." 


Note: A strong word of advice, prior to deciding to take an online course access the Fall 2017 Online Student Handbook from the Distance Education Webpage, found at http://www.elcamino.edu/library/distance-ed The handbook will provide you with among other things; answers to frequently asked questions, a discussion of the skills you will need, and offer you tips for success as an online student.


Course Objectives:


1. Identify and assess the basic theory of comparative political analysis and the commonly applied methodology. 

2. Identify and evaluate the structures and functions common to all political systems. 

3. Analyze the geopolitical, cultural, and historical antecedents of nation-states for comparative analysis. 

4. Evaluate cultural-political systems in developing non-democratic nation-states. 

5. Assess procedures used in democratic political systems in the determination of policy and legislation. 

6. Evaluate and examine the major institutions that contribute to the political process. 

7. Describe and analyze the European Union as a model of regional integration. 

8. Identify and evaluate current government systems. 

9. Assess the ways in which political parties, interest groups, and public opinion effect the political process.

Student Learning Outcomes


1.  In a written essay, the students will discuss and critically analyze both differences and similarities found among different political systems as they pertain to the functions that their institutions perform.

2.  In a written essay, the students will demonstrate knowledge and analyze the differences between presidential and parliamentary systems and the impact they have on the policymaking process.


3.   In a written essay, the students will demonstrate knowledge of and analyze the various concepts of democracy and how these differences impact the system of government.  

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Week 1   (August 28-September 3)          


Read Essentials -Chapter 1

Read Cases-Politics in the United States
Take Chapter 1 Exam

Participate in Introductory Discussion Board


Week 2 (September 4-10)


Read Essentials-Chapter 2

Read Cases-Politics in Britain 

Take Chapter 2 Exam


Week 3  (September 11-17)


Take Chapter exam on Great Britain

Watch the Prime Ministers Questions on c-span.org


Week 4 (September 18-24)


Read the article-What is and is not Democracy 

Read Essentials Chapter 3

Take Chapter 3 Exam


Week 5 (September 25-October 1)


Read Essential Chapter 4 

Watch Frontline: Sick around the World

Participate in Discussion Board #1  


Week 6 (October 2-8)

Read Cases-Politics in France

Take Chapter exam on France 

Read Huntington's Clash of the Civilizations? 


Week 7 (October 9-15)

Read Essenials Chapter 5

Read Christopher Allen article

Participate in Discussion Board #2

Week 8 (October 16-22)  

Read Essentials Chapter 6      

Take Midterm exam 


Week 9 (October 23-29

Read Essential Chapter 7 

Read Cases-Politics of Germany

Watch Frontline: Battle for Haiti


Week 10 (October 30-November 5)        

Participate in Discussion Board #3

Take Chapter exam on Germany        


Week 11 (November 6-12)        

Read Essential Chapter 8        

Take Chapter 5 & 8 Exam

Paper due-November 11


Week 12 (November 13-19)        

Read Essentials Chapter 9

Take Chapter 6 & 9 Exam         

Watch Frontline: Young and Restless in China        


Week 13 (November 20-26)

Read Cases-Politics of China       

Take Chapter exam on China

Happy Thanksgiving !        


Week 14 (November 27-December 3)        

Read Chapter 10

Take Chapter 10 Exam

Journal Due-Saturday, December 2  


Week 15 (December 4-10)

Read Chapter 11


Take Chapter 11 Exam


Week 16  (December 11-15)                     


Take Final exam



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Discussion Boards:
You are required to participate in 3 online discussions.  Each discussion board is worth 5 points.  A topic will be posted by me and during that week you are required to respond to my initial posting as well as respond to one of your classmates' postings.  Specific dates for these discussions are listed in the preceding syllabus section. 

Term Paper:
Please write a 4-5 page paper on the topic described below.  Your paper should be well written and punctuation and grammar count so please proofread and spell check.  This is not a research paper but rather an analysis paper.  I will grade you on the quality and completeness of your analysis.

Your paper is due on Saturday, November 11 and must be sent to houskeonline@yahoo.com with subject of your email being titled "PS2 Paper."  I will respond within 24 hours that I have received your paper.

Option #1:  Please write a paper describing the various political parties in a country we have studied.  As part of your paper analyze/discuss the impact of electoral systems as well as the differences of types of political parties.

Option #2:  Please write a paper comparing various types of electoral systems such as single member plurality voting and proportional voting systems.  Be sure to use examples from the countries we have studied.  Are there particular advantages or disadvantages to each system? 

Political Journal:
Your political journal will consist of 5 journal entries covering a political event(s) during the semester.  They can cover any level of government that relates to an international event.  Your journal is due on Saturday, December 2 and must be sent to houskeonline@yahoo.com with subject of your email being titled "PS2-Political Journal".  I will respond within 24 hours that I have received your paper.

Please use the following format for your journal entries:

1. Electronic source: i.e., www.cnn.com, www.msnbc.com, www.news.yahoo.com, etc.

2. Specific Webpage: i.e., http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/Americas/7238214.stm

3. Date of the article:  April 26, 2017

4. Summary of the article: here you should give the article’s title and provide a well-rounded summary, at least three to four  paragraphs. Then, in a fifth or sixth paragraph you should discuss how it relates to the course.

NOTE: Your five journal entries should be drawn from five different electronic sources, meaning five different websites. And they should all be submitted in one document, meaning send 1 attachment not 5 different attachments.

Chapter Exams:
There will be 9 Chapter exams that you must complete during this semester.  Each chapter exam point values vary.

Midterm Exam:
There will be one midterm in Week 8.  The exam will be an essay exam with a choice of 4 questions, you must answer 2.  Each question will be worth 50 points for a total of 100 points.  It will be a timed exam and you have 90 minutes.  

Final Exam:
There will be a cumulative final in Week 16.  The exam will be an essay exam with a choice of 5 questions, you must answer 2.  Each question will be worth 50 points for a total of 100 points.  It will be a timed exam and you have 90 minutes.


Discussion Boards                           15 points
Term Paper                                     45 points
Political Journal                               40 points
Chapter Exams                               100 points

Midterm Exam                              100 points
Final Exam                                    100 points
Total Points                                   400 points

A      400-360
B      359-320
C      319-280
D      279-240
F       239-200

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Course Material:

O'Neil, Patrick H., Essentials of Comparative Politics, 5th Ed., WW Norton, 2015.

O'Neil, Patrick H., Fields, Karl, Share, Don, Cases in Comparative Politics, 5th Ed., WW Norton, 2015.

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Online Resources:







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El Camino College, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, California 90506
Phone: 310-532-3760 Toll Free: 1-866-ELCAMINO (1-866-352-2646)
Last Published 8/22/17