Approaches to Comparative Politics

Subject POLS90024 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level
Non Allowed Subjects: 166-570 Approaches to Comparative Politics
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Prof Adrian Little


Prof. Leslie Holmes

Subject Overview:

The principal aim of this subject is to provide an awareness and advanced critique of the major post-war (WWII) theories, approaches and methodologies in the sub-discipline of political science known as 'comparative politics'. Methods of comparing very different kinds of political unit are considered. The term unit is broadly understood, to include, for instance, political systems, political ideologies and political cultures.


By the end of the course, students should be:

  • familiar with the main developments in the sub-discipline since 1945.
  • able to provide a critical overview of each of the discrete developments identified.
  • capable of deciding which, if any, of the approaches will be of greatest value to them in their own subsequent research or work programs.

2 x 500-word briefing papers (10% each) due during the semester, a 1000 word briefing paper (20%) due during the semester, and a 3000 word research essay (60%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Students who fail to meet this hurdle requirement will be deemed ineligible to submit the final piece of assessment for this subject. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:
  • A subject reader will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop.


  • D. Caramani (ed.), Comparative Politics (2008) - an introduction to comparative politics, but one that is suitable at the postgraduate level - for those students with little background in political science


  • M. Lichbach & A. Zuckerman (eds.), Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture & Structure (2nd ed.)(2009) - an advanced book, for those who have already studied comparative politics.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Research: through competent use of the library and other information sources (inc. online), and the definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research.
  • Critical Thinking and Analysis: through recommended reading, briefing and essay writing, and seminar discussion, and by determining the strength of an argument.
  • Thinking in Theoretical Terms: through seminar discussion, essay writing and engagement in the methodologies of the humanities and social sciences.
  • Thinking Creatively: through essay writing, seminar discussion and presentations, conceptualising theoretical problems, forming judgements and arguments from conflicting evidence and by critical analysis.
  • Understanding of Social, Ethical and Cultural Context: through the contextualisation of judgements, developing a critical self-awareness, being open to new ideas and possibilities and by constructing an argument.
  • Communicating Knowledge Intelligibly and Economically: through briefing and essay writing, and seminar discussion.
  • Written Communication: through briefing and essay preparation and writing.
  • Oral Presentation: through seminar discussion and informal class presentations.
  • Time Management and Planning: through managing and organising workloads for recommended reading, essay and assignment completion.
  • Group Work: through group discussions.
Related Course(s): Master of International Relations
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: International Politics
International Studies
Political Science
Political Science
Political Science
Politics and International Studies

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