Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

PLSC 341 Comparative Politics

Spring 2016


Course Title:                     Comparative Politics


Course Number:                 PLSC 341


Period:                                 2016 Spring Semester


Time:                                    Two 1’20” sessions per week (Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:20-3:35 p.m.)


Professor:                           Claudio Lodici (c.lodici@usa.net; clodici@luc.edu)


Classroom:                         Room TBA


Office hours:                     T. & Th. 3:45-5:00 p.m. (by appointment)


Required Text:                Comparative Politics in Transition, 7th Edition, John McCormick, Wadsworth Pub Co; December 2011.


Recommended:               Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, Arend Lijphard, Yale University Press, 1999    


Course description:       To offer an informative introduction to the complexities of government in some selected countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, regardless of their ideology, size, and economic development. Finally, to provide students with a civic background whatever their academic specialization. This will imply tentative answers to questions such as the purpose of government, the functions of political institutions, and the real actors of political processes in the global era. Constitutions, legislatures, administrations, social forces, interest groups, political parties, and elections will be scrutinized in turn.


Course objectives:          By the end of this course students will have an understanding of:

- Various terms used in comparative political science such as political systems, regimes, governments, states, and ideologies;

- The major aspects of liberal democratic and non-democratic ideologies;

- The major political economic features of democratic and authoritarian regimes;

- The political history, key institutions, political cultures, political parties, interest groups; political issues, cleavages, of the major political conflicts of contemporary political systems;

- Some understanding of the relationship between a) political ideologies and political regimes, and b) political regimes and economic systems in the countries explored in the course;

- Politics as the struggle between freedom and equality.   


Course procedure:         Students are expected to have completed their reading before the end of the semester. Each student will write a review of approximately 600 words for a book among the recommended readings. They are also expected to actively participate in all sessions, and their participation will be taken into consideration. Some sessions are in seminar format.


Credits:                                Three credit hours


Evaluation:                       Class participation and daily readings. There are 80 points awarded at the discretion of the instructor for attendance, participation (it is not necessary to speak, but it is necessary to be "present"), and questions. Students will be expected to bring to class each Tuesday one question related to the chapter from the McCormick’s text for that week. As you read the chapter[s], there should be something that either is of interest to you or that is not clear to you. The success of this class depends upon the quality of the dialogue in class. It is expected that students will attend every class and that they will be fully prepared to discuss the material assigned for that day. Class participation grades will reflect their attendance record, the frequency of their contributions to class discussions, and the quality of their questions, observations, and conclusions.

There will be daily readings worth 40 points. Each of the students will report once on a short reading assignment on class days. Students are to read one or two chapter sections summarizing the most significant or revealing points in the day's readings.


                                               There will be a term project worth 200 points. Each student will also write a paper of approximately 3000 words (or about 12 double-spaced typewritten pages) analyzing one aspect of contemporary government in one of the political systems explored. Students should choose their topic in consultation with the instructor. The completed paper will be due by April 7.




The following schedule will be strictly observed:

  1. Consultation with the instructor on your research idea (by February 4).
  2. A typed project proposal, including the central questions, a plan for research, and a preliminary bibliography (due February 18).
  3. A rough draft of the paper (due March 24).
  4. A final draft (due April 7).


Plagiarism:                       Students of this university are called upon to know, to respect, and to practice a high standard of personal honesty. Plagiarism is a serious for of violation of this standard. Plagiarism is the appropriation for gain of ideas, language, or work of another without sufficient public acknowledgement that the material is not one’s own. Plagiarism on the part of a student in academic work or dishonest examination behavior will result in failure and will be reported to the Office of the Director.


Examinations:                 There will be two examinations (Midterm: essay, with some choice--1 of 3, e.g.; Final: 10 short answer essays). The Midterm exam will be worth 200 points, the final will be worth 400 points.

Travel plans or other personal commitments may not interfere with examinations.

The first exam will cover the first half of the class; the final exam will be cumulative.

Each student will write a book review of approximately 600 words. Students will have the ability to make their own choice as long as the book deals with comparative government. This will be submitted no later than April 5. Each review should include a brief synopsis, followed by the reader’s reaction. What was the author’s point. What did the editor provide. What do you think of the book. What did you learn. What did you like about the book. What didn’t you like about the book. How did the book relate to your understanding of democracy and government today. Why was the assignment worthwhile. Why wasn’t the assignment worthwhile. THIS ASSIGNMENT MUST BE WORD PROCESSED, SPELL CHECKED AND PROOF READ. Failure to follow these directions will result in either a lowered grade or having the assignment returned ungraded to be resubmitted. Late assignments (including those returned for resubmission) may have points deducted for each day late.

Reviews are worth a possible 80 points.


Added together, the total number of points is 1,000.


Please note that there is often, although not always, a positive correlation between class attendance and "participation" and the student's ability to earn a better than average grade.



The grading scale:         A          4.00    Excellent                    950 or more points
A-        3.67                                         920-940 points
B+        3.33                                        880-919 points
B          3.00    Good                           840-879 points

B-         2.67                                         800-839 points
C+        2.33                                        770-799 points
C          2.00    Satisfactory               730-769 points
C-         1.67                                         700-729 points                    
D+        1.33                                         650-699 points
D          1.00    Poor                            600-649
F          0.00    Failure                        599 and below
P          0.00    Pass with credit.


The minimum passing grade for a course taken under the Pass/Fail option will be C minus (C-)

I          Incomplete
W        Withdrawal
WF      Withdrawal Failure

C- will be the minimum acceptable grade for university undergraduate requirements, such as the University Core Curriculum and the Values Across the Curriculum requirements.


Grade Tabulation:          Class participation                            80       points

Reading assignments                        40       points

Book review                                       80       points

Midterm exam                                  200     points

Tem project                                       200     points

Final exam                                         400    points


Please note that there is often, although not always, a positive correlation between class attendance and participation and the student's ability to earn a better than average grade.


Grading philosophy:     A          Excellent. Indicates the highest level of achievement in the subject and an outstanding level of intellectual initiative. 

                                               B          Good. Indicates a good level of achievement, intelligent understanding and application of subject matter.

C          Satisfactory. Indicates academic work of an acceptable quality and an understanding of the subject matter.

D          Poor. Minimum credit. Indicates the lowest passing grade, unsatisfactory work and only the minimum understanding and application.

F          Failure. Indicates the lack of even the minimum understanding and application.



Disagreement:                 Political attitudes and opinions tend to reflect one's social background and self-interest, and since we all have different backgrounds and interests there is no reason why we should be expected to agree. A student does not have to agree with the professor to get a grade in this class. It is both legitimate and desirable for you to disagree with me and independently and critically evaluate the material. I will exercise my academic freedom and say what I think is accurate about politics; you have the same right. Political Science is a way of thinking about politics, not a set of right answers and airing your disagreements is an excellent way to learn how to think. So please, if you feel I am wrong, challenge me. Former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn had two bits of advice for the new members: "Learn to disagree without being disagreeable", and "Don't turn political differences into personal differences".



Behavior:                           Civility and toleration are essential for an academic atmosphere conducive to learning. Incivility in the classroom will not be tolerated. Students should make sure to turn off cellular phones and other electronic devices before class. Students are not allowed to eat, drink, or smoke in the classrooms. 



Honor Code:                     Lying, cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism are violations of our Honor Code that, when identified, are investigated. Each incident will be examined to determine the degree of deception involved.



Examinations:                 As stated above, travel plans or other personal commitments may not interfere with midterm and final examinations.







WEEK                                                              TOPIC


  1. An Introduction to Modern Government Forms: Presidential; Semi-Presidential; Westminster; Parliamentary Systems; Party-Executive-Legislative Relationship.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p. 2-55 *)


  1. The U.S. Political System.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p. 57-109)


  1. Europe’s Main Political Systems - - Parliamentary Democracy.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.110-149)


  1. U.K., France, and Germany - Political Actors, Social Life, and Institutional Tools.


  1. The Japanese Experience.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.150-191)


  1. Communism in Eastern Europe until 1989 - Russia.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p. 193-247)


  1. Post-Communist World: an Arduous Transition to Liberal Democracy - China.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  248-287)


  1. Post-Communist World: an Arduous Transition to Liberal Democracy.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  248-287)


  1. Newly industrializing Countries - India. New Democracies. Peculiarities of a Controversial System: Mexico.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  289-341)


  1. Newly Industrializing Countries - India.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  342-383)


  1. Less Developed States: What Path to Civic and Economic Development - Nigeria.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  385-442)


  1. Islamic Countries - Iran.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  443-494)


  1. Marginal States: Haiti.

(Comparative Politics in Transition, p.  495-548)


* Please note that students must complete the reading assignments listed above by Thursday in the current week.