El Camino College

Political Science 2
Comparative Politics

Political Science
Laurie Houske

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Class Information:

Political Science 2, Section 2763

Room: SOCS 201

MW 11:15-12:40pm

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. 



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Class participation is required as part of your grade.  You cannot participate if you are

not in class, so make sure you attend class.


Tardies are noted and are reflected in your grade through classroom demeanor.  It is rude to your fellow students and me.  Additionally, I tend to make announcements at the beginning of class, which will not be repeated.  If you are late to class it is your responsibility to inform me that you were late at the end of class.  If you do not inform me of your tardiness that day you will be counted as absent.  Make sure your cell phone is turned off during class.  Other things you should not do: talking in class, sleeping, wearing sunglasses, disturbing other students with your noise, leaving trash in the classroom, texting other students.


All papers turned in must be typed.


If one of the tests is missed, you must contact the me to make up the exam.  Only one makeup exam is permitted.  If you miss the date of the makeup exam, another opportunity to make up the exam will not be given.  Late papers will be reduced by 10%.  There are no exceptions.


Various extra credit assignments will be given throughout the session.  You can make

suggestions of independent extra credit projects.


It is helpful if you keep track of your points so you will know how you are doing in the



Do not presume that you can pass the class without turning in all of the required

work because most often you can not.  It is better to turn something in late and lose

points than to never turn in a paper and lose all points.  For example, students

sometimes choose not to turn in a paper worth 20% of their grade.  This means that if

you received a perfect score on every assignment the best you could receive is an 80%

in the class.  Don’t make this mistake.


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 16, 2018. 


Please do not wait to come to me if you are having problems in the class.  It is very difficult to solve problems if you wait until the last minute.  The last two weeks of class are not the time to come to me to ask how you can pass the class.

My hope for every student is that you are able to pass the class with the grade you desire.  I will do everything possible to help you pass but ultimately the responsibility is on you. 

Changes to the syllabus will be announced in class.

Course Objectives:

Fundamental to successfully meeting the goals and objectives for this course, it is strongly suggested that students will:

  1. Attend class regularly and be on time.
  2. Stay focused and attentive during class discussions.
  3. Buy the book early.
  4. Do the readings as assigned.
  5. Raise questions during class discussions or office hours
  6. Take advantage of the learning resources available on campus, including the Learning Resource Center, your Counselor as a resource,  tutoring programs if needed and available, and other services and/or mini-classes designed to sharpen your “survival skills,” such as note taking, outlining chapter readings, and dealing with test-taking anxieties.
  7. Supplement note taking with audio recording of class discussions.
  8. Strengthen retention of concepts read and discussed by using flash cards.
  9. Use the review sheets to prepare for the exams.
  10. Form study groups to learn from one another.
  11. Read and review.
  12. Read and review.
  13. Read and review.

Upon completing this course, students will hopefully be able to describe the basic concepts, theories and functions of various political systems.  Additionally students will be familiar with the dominant theories relating to political development and use a variety of countries as case studies.  Hopefully the following objectives will be meet:

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 Outcome:

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                        Overview of Course

Week 2                        Introduction to Comparative Politics, Chp 1
                                    United States                                              

Week 3                        Britain                                    
                                      States, Chp 2

Week 4                        Britain                                    
                                     Nations & Society Chp 3

Week 5                        France                    
                                   Political Economy Chp 4

Week 6                        France                                   
                                   Political Violence Chp 5

Week 7                        France 
                                   Democratic Regimes, Chp 6

Week 8                       Germany

Week 9                        Midterm

Week 10                      Germany                                   
                                    Developed Democracies Chp 7

Week 11                      Germany 
                                    Non Democratic Regimes, Chp 8


Week 12                      China

Week 13                      Group Presentations

Week 14                      Group Presentations                                
                                     Globalization Chp 11

Week 15                      China


Week 16                      Final



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Grades:                        10%     Quizzes                            (40 points)                                               
                                    10%     Article analysis                  (40 points)

                                    20%     Group Presentation/Paper (80 points)

                                    25%     Midterm                           (100 points)

                                    25%     Final                                (100 points)

                                      5%     Class Participation             (20 points)

                                      5%     Classroom Demeanor        (20 points)

                             100%                                     400 Total points

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Course Material:


O'Neil, Patrick H., Fields, Karl, Share, Don, Cases and Concepts in Comparative Politics, 5th, WW Norton, 2018.



Notes on China 


Notes on Germany 


Group Presentation Assignment


What Democracy Is and Is Not Article, Schmitter and Karl



German factory





In a two-three page double spaced paper, read and critically analyze “Why Democracies Excel” based on our class discussions covered throughout the semester. Be sure to support your arguments. This assignment will be worth 60 points and will be due on Wednesday, December 5th.  As part of your analysis, please consider the five policies advocated by the authors.  I am grading you on your analysis so be thoughtful and concise.





Extra Credit:  For 15 points of extra credit, please watch the videos below and write a 1-2 page summary/critical analysis.  These videos are available at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/view/



Direct links:

Our Man in Tehran Part 1



Our Man in Tehran Part 2


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Online Resources:



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