Northern Illinois University

Department of Political Science




Instructor:         Stephen McCarthy                                                        Fall 2003

Office:              Zulauf 422                                                                    Section 5

Phone:              753-7044                                                                       TTh, 2.00-3.15

Office Hours:    TTh, 3.30-4.30                                                              DuSable  459

            & by appointment

E-mail:             snmccarthy@niu.edu 



This course serves as NIU’s introduction to politics outside the United States. As such, it has two main goals. First, it will give you a chance to study the politics of particular countries you probably know little about. Second, it seeks to convey an analytical approach to the study of politics and to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on some of the essential questions, old and new, with which students of politics have to grapple. To the extent that we achieve these goals, your new understandings should enhance your role as citizen in a democracy, i.e., enable you to make more informed judgments on the policies that your leaders propose to follow in dealing with these nations. This course is based on the assumption that a useful way to learn about “politics” is to look at a wide variety of political systems, and to compare them. Towards this end, we will explore and contrast the historical and political development, key institutions, and political culture of Great Britain, Australia, France, Japan, China, Singapore, and Burma.



Readings and Lectures 

Please purchase a copy of the textbook for this course: Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture, 8th edition (Prentice Hall, 2003) at the Student Center or Village Commons Bookstores.  Short readings will also be handed out in class.



If time and scheduling permit, I will show some videos on course-related topics.  These are not “blow-off” classes; indeed, some exam questions will be based on audiovisual materials.  I will introduce each video and help you to focus on the most pertinent information and issues. 


Course Requirements and Grading

Read the assigned materials carefully. The lectures will parallel and complement the readings, but you can’t count on the lectures repeating the reading. The exams will cover both readings and lectures. You should complete reading assignments for each date before coming to class. The Class Schedule serves as a broad outline to the course. While the instructor will follow the order of topics assigned for the course, the instructor reserves the right to make reasonable adjustments to the assigned readings. Any changes in the Class Schedule will be announced in class.


Attend class and participate in class discussions. Attendance at all class sessions is expected, and I will check attendance regularly. An attendance score will be calculated as the percentage of the class sessions that you attend, and this score will determine 10% of your course grade. Class discussion will be a key technique for covering current events material and material from the Roskin book, so your attendance and participation are particularly important. Informed participation in class discussions will significantly help students in borderline grade situations.


Take three examinations.  Two of these will be midterms written in class on October 7 (7th week) and November 11 (12th week).  Each one will count for 25% of your course grade.  The final exam is comprehensive, but approximately half of the questions will be on material covered after the second midterm exam. It will count for 40% of your course grade and take place during the regularly scheduled final exam period (December 9). The format of each exam will be a combination of essay, short answer, and multiple-choice.  NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN, except in cases of emergency, as defined by the instructor, and with advanced notification. If there are any problems or conflicts, contact the instructor well in advance of the exam.


Important dates to remember. (summary)

            October 7         Exam I

            November 11    Exam II

            December 9      Final Exam


Course Grade. Course Grades will be distributed as follows:


A=90-100%; B=80-89%; C=65-79%; D=50-64%; F=0-49%


Class Procedures and Policies

This class is based on the principle of active learning. This means that learning cannot take place without students’ active involvement in, commitment to, and responsibility for, their own education. Hence it is important that students conduct themselves in ways that indicate respect for the learning community and the learning process. While it is difficult to specify precisely what this means in all cases, at the very least it entails coming to class on time and being prepared to remain in one’s seat for the duration of the class period. Respect for the learning community and the learning process would normally also include showing courtesy to other students and requesting permission to speak, and excludes persistent lateness, leaving the class room during class time, falling asleep in class, studying for another class, and reading a newspaper. Please try to sit in approximately the same place  (to help me learn your names and monitor attendance quickly).


NO INCOMPLETES will be given for reasons other than a medical or personal emergency and

then only after presentation of verifiable documentation. Academic hardship does not qualify as

an acceptable excuse.


Any student found guilty of cheating or plagiarizing will receive an "F" for the examination and the course.  Criteria for these offenses are described in the Student Judicial Code and  the 2003-2004 Undergraduate Catalog (see "Academic Integrity").


Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 29, 2004. All copies should have two cover pages – one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name. Only papers written in the previous calendar can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated. (In other words, this semester's awards will be given out next year.)



Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Department of Political Science Web Site

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu



Class Schedule


Week and Date                         Topic                                        Readings


1          August 26                     Introduction                  


1          August 28                     Nation and State                        Roskin, ch.1, pp. 1-19


2          September 2                  Comparing Polities                     Roskin, ch. 1

Democratization                        Schmitter, “What Democracy is…and is Not”


2          September 4                  Great Britain                             Roskin, chs. 2 & 3, pp. 20-52

Studlar, “A Constitutional Revolution in Britain?”


3          September 9                  Great Britain                             Roskin, ch. 5, pp. 66-78


3          September 11                Great Britain                             Roskin, ch. 4, pp. 53-65


4          September 16                Great Britain                             Roskin, ch. 6, pp. 79-93


4          September 18                Australia                                   TBA


5          September 23                France                                      Roskin, ch. 7, pp. 96-111


5          September 25                France                                      Roskin, ch. 9, pp. 130-146


6          September 30                France                                      Roskin, chs. 8 & 10, pp. 113-129; 147-



6          October 2                     France                                      Roskin, ch. 11, pp. 162-175,                                                                    Catch up- Review for Exam




7          October 7                     Exam I                                               


7          October 9                     Japan                                        Roskin, chs. 22 & 23, pp. 340-366


8          October 14                    Japan                                        Roskin, ch. 25, pp. 382-395


8          October 16                    Japan                                        Roskin, ch. 24, pp. 367-381


9          October 21                    Japan                                        Roskin, ch. 26, pp. 396-411

                                                                                                Ibison, “Radical reverts to the old


French, “Japan anxiously looks ahead”


9          October 23                    China                                        Roskin, ch. 27, pp. 416-429


10         October 28                    China                                        Roskin, ch. 27, pp. 436-440


10         October 30                    China                                        Roskin, ch. 27, pp. 430-447

                                                                                                Pomfret, “Era of deep changes for

China’s Communists”


11         November 4                  China                                        Additional readings and/or videos TBA


11         November 6                  China

Catch up- Review for Exam                                                                  


12         November 11                Exam II                      


12         November 13                Singapore                                  Readings TBA             


13         November 18                Singapore                                  Readings TBA


13         November 20                Burma                                      Readings and/or video TBA


14         November 25                Burma                                      Readings TBA


14         November 27                Thanksgiving Break                Enjoy the holiday


15         December 2                  Burma                                      Readings TBA


15         December 4                  Review Course


16         December 9                  Final Exam                              2.00-3.50 (in class)