Insegnamento a.a. 2015-2016



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
CLMG (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - M (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - IM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - MM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - AFC (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLAPI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLEFIN-FINANCE (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLELI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - ACME (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - EMIT (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

The course offers an introduction to the main debates in normative and positive democratic theory, and presents a broad, in-depth, and up-to-date overview of the results of the scientific study of comparative politics, with special emphasis given to analytical and empirical approaches. At the end of the course, students will know the most important findings of contemporary comparative political science and the main concepts and debates in democratic theory. Therefore students will be acquainted both with the more philosophical debate on democracy, andwith the analytical and scientific approach to the study of comparative politics. Students will understand that many of the tools and concepts developed by the discipline turn potentially hard-to-untangle issues into tractable problems. In particular, students are exposed to the institutionalist perspective, which could be, somewhat simplistically, summarized with the aphorism the rules of the game affect the outcome. More specifically, the course shows how the outcomes of the political process (e.g., the policies implemented by the party that wins elections) depend on the interaction between social structure (e.g., the distribution of income) and the rules of the game (e.g., electoral system).

Course Content Summary

  • The state.
  • Authoritarian and democratic regimes; regime transitions: coups, democratization.
  • Varieties of autocracies.
  • Elections and electoral systems..
  • Accountability, corruption, clientelism.
  • Political representation: left and right, income redistribution, polarization.
  • Electoral campaigns, lobbies, interest groups.
  • Legislatures, parties, party discipline.
  • Presidents, prime ministers, coalitions.
  • Federalism and decentralization.
  • Non-economic dimensions of conflict in democratic regimes: religion, secularism, and ethnicities.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

For those attending lectures, there are two requirements. The first is a mid-term in-class exam, covering the first half of the course. The second is a final exam, covering only the second half of the course.

For those not attending lectures, and therefore unable or unwilling to take the midterm exam, the midterm and the non-cumulative final exam are replaced by a longer final exam covering the entire course content. Students who have NOT passed the exam yet for the previous year have to prepare the current program.


  • Clark, WIlliam R., Matt Golder, andSona N. Golder. 2013. Principles of Comparative Politics (second edition). CQ Press.
  • Papers and articles (one or two per week / topic)will be available on electronic platforms at the start of the semester.
  • Please notice that the main textbook is not a substitute for the assigned papers and articles. This is particularly true for students who decide not to attend the lectures: the Clark, Golder and Golder text is not sufficient to successfully pass the exam. In any case, attendance is strongly recommended.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 08/05/2015 11:38