Approaches to Comparative Politics

Subject POLS90024 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 contact hours: A 2-hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level

Non Allowed Subjects: None
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. 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.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • be familiar with the main developments in the sub-discipline since 1945;
  • be able to provide a critical overview of each of the discrete developments identified;
  • be 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 3000 word research essay (60%) due towards the end of semester.
  • A 1000 word briefing paper (20%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:
  • A subject reader will be available.

Recommended Texts:


  • D. Caramani (ed.), Comparative Politics (2011) - 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 Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of International Relations
Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - Politics and International Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Politics and International Studies
PC-ARTS Politics and International Studies
PD-ARTS Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies

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