Northern Illinois University

Fall 2004

POLS 260 Comparative Politics (Section 4, TTH 11-12:15)


Instructor: Han, Hee-jin

Contact Information:, 753-7052

Office: Zulauf 408

Office Hours: T/TH 9:50-10:50 or by appointment     



“Without comparisons to make, the mind does not know how to proceed.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, 1830



This course is an introduction to the comparative study of government and politics. Among various methods, this course adopts country-by-country approach to understand various forms and patterns of government and politics. It specifically focuses on five countries- Britain and France as Western democracies and three northeast Asian countries: Japan (due to its international prominence and its successful adaptation of Western democratic tradition to a non-Western setting), the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and the People’s Republic of China (China). Throughout this course, students are exposed to the distinctive historical experience, political cultures, governmental structures, and political processes in each of the polities and will improve their skills to compare and contrast them. This way, they are expected to understand how other societies are organized and governed and also better understand their own countries’ politics.


Course Policies and Requirements


1. Readings

Please purchase a copy of the textbook for this course: Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture, 8th edition (Prentice Hall, 2004). Students are required to buy a book chapter on Korea in Philip Shively’s Comparative Governance (2003, McGraw Hill). This chapter can be purchased at the bookstores. Students are expected to keep up with the readings, which means that you should complete each reading assignment by the time we begin the corresponding section of the course. Material covered in the text but not discussed in detail in the lectures will be included on the tests.  

Some short readings may also be handed out in class or placed on reserve.  


2. Videos

If time and scheduling permit, I will show some videos on course-related topics. There are not “blow-off” classes; indeed, some exam questions will be based on audiovisual materials.


3. Attendance and Participation (15% of the course grade)  

Attendance in this class is mandatory. Full attendance will help you to get a better grade in this part of the grade and if your grade falls on the border line in the class exams. Participation is appreciated and welcome. When you have questions, it means your classmates might have similar questions too, so don’t be afraid of raising your hands and ask questions.


4. In Class Exams (70% of the course grade -mid-term 30 % and final 40 %)

There will be two in class exams in this course, and the final exam is not accumulative. Each exam is a combination of multiple choice questions, definition and an essay question. In essay questions, you can choose one out of two. No make-up exams will be given, except in cases of emergency, as defined by the instructor, and with advanced notification.

5. Journals (15% of the course grade)

Each student is supposed to read 3 articles (per week) from sources as the New York Times and the Washington Post and summarize and analyze them in a paragraph (approximately 100-200 letters). Journals will be collected twice during the semester (Oct 14th, Dec 7th).  Students are supposed to read articles on countries that we cover. Therefore, the first journal should include articles on England and France and the second journal should have articles on Japan, Korea and China. It is advised to read articles that cover political issues or current issues of importance in that country. Any other kinds of newspaper of a specific country are more than welcome. To find such newspapers, go to Internet Public Library ( The site provides links to various newspapers of each country. Failure to submit the journal on due date will result in reduction of half letter grade per day.      


6. The Learning Environment

Your instructor is committed to 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. During lecture segments, please raise your hand if you have a question. However, be less formal during class discussions, so long as we remember to treat one another with common courtesy. Respect for the learning community precludes such behavior as persistent tardiness, leaving the room during class time, falling asleep, reading newspaper, and studying for another class. NIU policies regarding classroom conduct are discussed in the 2003-2004 Undergraduate Catalog.


7. Incompletes   

No incompletes will be extended for reasons other than a medical or personal emergency and then after presentation of verifiable documentation. Academic hardship does not qualify as an acceptable excuse.





8. Academic Integrity

Students are expected to know and comply with NIU policies on academic integrity (See undergraduate catalog). Any student found guilty of cheating or plagiarizing will receive an “F” for the examination and the course.


9. 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.


10. 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


11. 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.


12. Let’s have fun!










Course Schedule and Reading Assignments


Aug 24

Welcome to POLS 260 Section 4!

Students read syllabus and understand what the course is all about. Buy the textbook at the bookstore.    


Basic Concepts

Aug 26

Basic Concepts: Nation & State

Roskin, pp. 1-16


Aug 31


Roskin, Boxes on pp. 9 & 15


Politics of Great Britain

Sept 2

Great Britain(GB): the impact of the past

Roskin, pp. 22-35


Sept 7

GB: the key institutions

Roskin, pp. 36-52


Sept 9

GB video” Order! Order! Britain’s Parliamentary at Work (60min)


Sept 14

GB: political culture

Roskin, pp. 53-65


Sept 16

GB: patterns of interaction

Roskin, pp. 66-78


 Sept 21

GB; what Britons quarrel about

Roskin, pp. 79-93


Politics of France

Sept 23

France; the impact of the past

Roskin, pp. 94-112


Sept 28

France; the impact of the past (continued)

Video; The French Revolution (50min)


Sept 30

France; the key institutions

Roskin, pp. 113-129


Oct 5

France; French political culture

Roskin, pp. 130-146

France: patterns of interaction

Roskin, pp. 147-161


Oct 7

France: what the French quarrel about

Roskin, pp. 162-175

Brief review for the exam


Oct 12

Mid-term exam – We are half way done!

1st Journal due on this day (18 articles are supposed to be summarized and put in folder)


Politics of Japan

Oct 14

Japan; the impact of the past

Roskin, pp. 338-353


Oct 19

Japan; the impact of the past (continued)

Video: Meiji; Asia’s Response to the West (50 min)


Oct 21

Japan; the key institutions

Roskin, pp. 354-366


Oct 26

Japanese political culture

pp. 367-381

Oct 28

Japan; patterns of interaction

Roskin, pp. 382-395

Japan; what the Japanese quarrel about

Roskin, pp. 396-411




Politics of China

Nov 2

China; the impact of the past

Roskin, pp. 416-424


Nov 4

China; the impact of the past (continued)

Video: China after Mao (50min)


Nov 9

China; the key institutions

Roskin, pp. 424-429

China: political culture

Roskin, pp. 430-436


Nov 11

China; patterns of interaction & quarrel

Roskin, pp. 436-447


Politics of South Korea

Nov 16

Korea; history of the republic of Korea

Helsi & Jung, pp. 3-18


Nov 18

Video: Korea; War, Prosperity, Democracy


Nov 23

Korea; Political organizations & political institutions and process

Helsi & Jung, pp. 26-37, pp. 37-48


Nov 25

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Nov 30

Korea; Political culture & cases of conflict

Helsi & Jung, pp. 18-22, pp. 22-26  


Dec 2

Course evaluation

Review for the final exam


Dec 7
Final Exam; 10:00 – 11:50 am – Good job! You have just finished a course!

Submit Journal 2 (should have 18 articles)