Department of Political Science


Instructor: Srie Ramli                                                                                POLS 260

Office: ZH 422                                                                                          Section 01

Phone: 753-7044                                                                                       MWF, 11-11.50

Office hours: M-W 12.30-1.00                                                                 DuSable 461





            This course is an introduction to the comparative study of governments and politics.  The goal is to understand how political authority is organized and how it operates in a variety of nations.  In the effort to understand why political system vary in form and substance across time and space, the course will examine both historical processes of political change and development and contemporary political institutions, practices and policies. 

            The course focuses on six important contemporary states: Great Britain, France, and the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Iran, and Indonesia.  It identifies and analyzes the common problems these governments face, compares the alternative institutions and methods these six states have adopted.  In addition, the course evaluates the processes by attempts to explain similarities and differences in their performance. Because of the large amount of new material to be covered, this course will be primarily a lecture course, though with occasional classroom discussions.

            The objective is that students who successfully completed this course can have the ability to examine political systems of the six countries by contrasting and comparing aspects of these political systems and by seeking generalizations about them.



Michael G. Roskin, Coutries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture, 8th edition (Prentice Hall, 2003)

In-class handouts

Videos (if time and schedule permit)


Course Requirements and Grading:

Students are expected to keep up with the readings, which mean that you should complete each reading assignment by the time we begin the corresponding section of the course.  The lectures will parallel and complement the readings, but students cannot count on the lectures repeating the reading.  The exams will be based in equal parts on the readings and lectures.


Attendance and class participation

Attendance at all class sessions is expected and I will check attendance at the beginning of every session.  An attendance score will be calculated as the percentage of the class sessions that you attend, and this score will determine 15% of your course grade.  The participation portion of your final grade is designed to reward those students who came to class prepared.  Satisfactory class participation requires that students are present and attentive as well as contributing to class discussions in a manner that reflects they have read the required materials. 

Occasionally missing classes and quizzes may not affect your final grade; however, repeated absences will start to limit your maximum achievable grade.  After the first week of class, I request that you try to sit in approximately the same place to facilitate our learning and to associate names with real live people for quickly monitoring attendance.


The Learning Environment

            Respect for the learning community and the learning process would normally include coming to class on time and remaining in ones seat, requesting permission to speak and exclude persistent lateness, studying for another class, and reading newspaper.  Note that entering and leaving the room while class is in progress is not acceptable (I will count any “walkouts” as absences unless the student has permission or there is an emergency).  My classes start at three minutes past the hour in order to allow for accidents.  Comments that are not relevant to the ongoing discussion, off the point, disruptive to discussion, insensitive to others, or attempt to dominate the discussion will not be rewarded.



            There will be three exams.  Two of these will be midterms in class on October 4 and November 1.  Each one will count for 20% of your course grade.  The final exam is comprehensive, but approximately more than half of the questions will be on material covered after the second exam.  The final exam will count for 35% of your course grade and take place during the regularly scheduled final exam period (December 8).  The format of the exam will be a combination of essay, short answers, and multiple choices.  NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN, except at the discretion of the instructor well in advance of the exam.


Quizzes and Class Reports

            There will be 6 unannounced quizzes given in class throughout the semester.  These quizzes will be held which will also require you to be able to write about what you have read for class that day, including current affairs as reported in the news such as the New York Times.  The best 4 will be counted toward 10% of your final grade. 

At the end of each class you will hand in a “class report” containing two sentences: (1) what is the most important/interesting thing you learned in class that day; and (2) what is your most important/puzzling remaining question.  Put your name and date on this essay and hand it in before leaving the room.  These will count towards the 15% of your grades that rides on attendance and class participation. 




Components of Final Grade

A.  Attendance and participation                  15%

B.  Quizzes and Class Reports                      10%

C.  Midterm exam (1)                                    20%

D.  Midterm exam (2)                                    20%

E.  Final Exam                                               35%


Course grades will be distributed as follows:

Final average and any extra credit                                                Final Grade

      90-100%                                                                                        A

      80-89%                                                                                          B

      60-79%                                                                                          C

      50-59%                                                                                          D

      Below 50%                                                                                    F







  • NO INCOMPLETE 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.
  • Handouts, including study guides, are privileges for students who attend class on a regular basis.  No student is entitled to supplemental materials simply because they are registered for the course.
  • Email: please allow 24 hours during the week and 36 hours during the weekend for receipt and response.
  • Important dates to remember:




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 28. 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 year 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.


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




Course Schedule


August 23                                                                                     Introduction


Concepts: Nation and State, Comparing Polities

August 25, 27                                                              Read: Roskin chp 1

August 30, September 1, 3                                          Political Systems, Political institutions and process


Great Britain

September 6                                                                Labor Day (no class)

September 8, 10                                                          Impact of the past (Roskin Chpt. 2)

September 13, 15, 17                                                  Political Institutions (Roskin Chp.3-6)



September 20, 22, 24                                                 Impact of the past (Roskin Chp. 7)

September 27, 29

October 1                                                                   Political Institutions and Quarrels (Roskin Chp 8-11)


Midterm 1

October 4



October 6, 8, 11                                                        Impact of the past (Roskin chp. 27)

October 13, 15                                                          Governance and Policy Making (Roskin chp 27 and in-class handouts).



October 18, 20, 22                                                   Impact of the Past (Roskin chp. 22)

October 25, 27, 29                                                   Key Institutions and Political Interactions (Roskin chp. 23)


Midterm 2

November 1



November 3, 5                                                        The Making of Modern Iranian State (Roskin chp. 30)

November 8, 10, 12                                                 Governance and Policy Making (in-class handouts, TBA)



November 15, 17                                                     Traditional and Colonial influence, Independence 1945 (Readings: TBA, in-class handouts)

November 19, 22                                                     the New Order (Readings, TBA)


November 24-28                                                      Thanksgiving, have a nice break!


November 29, December 1                                          Indonesia’s Reformation (Readings, TBA)

                                                                                     Review study guide


December 3                                                                  Reading day, no class


December 8 (10-11.50)                                           Final exam week.