Department of Political Science


Instructor: Srie Ramli                                                                                POLS 260

Office:  ZH 405                                                                                        Section 04 (Fall 2005)

Phone:  753-7054                                                                                     T-TH: 11-12.15

Office hours:                                                                                            DuSable 461



“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 governments and politics.  The goal is to understand how political authority is organized and how it operates in a variety of nations. The course will examine both historical processes of political change and development and contemporary political institutions, practices and policies. 

            The course focuses on seven important contemporary states: Great Britain, France, The People’s Republic of China, Japan, Iran, Indonesia, and Nigeria.  The course includes explanation on similarities and differences in these governments’ political institutions.  Students are expected to identify and analyze the common problems these governments face, compares the alternative institutions and methods these seven states have adopted.  Because of the large amount of new material to be covered, this course will include lecture, students’ presentation and discussions and film documentary.




Shively (ed.). Comparative Governance. McGraw-Hill, 2004.

In-class handouts


Order! Order! (GB)

Francois Mitterand (France)

China After Mao (China)

The Meiji Revolution (Japan)

Islam Rising: Which Way Next for Iran? (Iran)

Hope in the Horizon (Nigeria)

The New Rulers of the World/Globalization  (Indonesia)


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, class participation and class reports

Attendance at all class sessions is expected and I will check attendance at the beginning of every session.  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.

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. 



The Learning Environment

            Respect for the learning community and the learning process would normally include coming to class on time, remaining in ones seat, and requesting permission to speak, etc.  Attitudes such as persistent lateness, studying for another class, playing with or talking on cell phone, talking with other students outside the topic discussed in class, reading newspaper and so forth are 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 7 to 8 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. 


Group Presentation

            At the beginning of semester students will be grouped into five to six people to present individual country.  The presentation will take about 15-20 minutes and students are expected to give a brief explanation on the roles and powers of governmental institutions including issues of current affairs of the country assigned; power point presentation is strongly favored.  To facilitate discussion, I will provide list of questions to be addressed in presentation. Members of other groups must also provide at least TWO questions to ask to the group presenting.  The presentation will be graded based on clarity, group coordination, understanding of materials, preparation, etc.  The other groups will also be graded (as part of the participation grade) on their questions and comments. The group presentation will account for 20% of the overall grade.




            The midterm exam (October 11, 2005) will count for 20% of your course grade and will cover materials on the first part of the course.  The final exam is comprehensive, but approximately more than half of the questions will be on material covered after the Midterm exam.  The final exam will count for 35% of your course grade and take place during the regularly scheduled final exam period (December 6, 2005).  The format of the exams 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. Please refer to the NIU final exam policy below.



NIU Final examinations Policy:

                                      Except with the written approval of the dean of the college, all undergraduate classes are to meet for examination or other instructional purposes at the time assigned in the final examination schedule. Class meetings scheduled during the final examination period are considered part of the regular semester. Evening classes scheduled for a final meeting during the final examination period also fall under this policy.

Policy governing students scheduled for three finals in the same day:

Students whose class schedule commits them to take three final examinations in one day may elect to have the examination in the highest numbered course of the three rescheduled. If the occurrence of three finals in one day, however, is the result of the examination in a particular class having been rescheduled (with appropriate approval), the examination that does not conform to the announced schedule is the one the student may elect to have rescheduled.

In order to reschedule an examination, the student should contact the course instructor one week prior to the first day of final examination week.


Blackboards and On-line Reserve

            I will be using blackboard as the means of communication with students.  I am sure that all of you are familiar with the blackboard system.  I will post handouts, additional readings, announcements, etc in blackboard (I will try to post them one or two day before class) please check the blackboard frequently. I will also post materials for class in the E-reserve (I will announce the URL in class). You will be able to access the E-reserve materials directly from your computer.


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. 

Components of Final Grade

A.  Attendance, participation (class reports)                                15%

B.  Quizzes                                                                                   10%

C.  Group Presentation                                                                 20%

D.  Midterm exam                                                                        20%

E.  Final Exam                                                                              35%










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….. 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: go over the syllabus and class requirements


Concepts: Nation and State, Comparing Polities

August 25                                                                    Introduction to CP

August 30                                                                    Political Systems, Political institutions and process



Great Britain

September 1                                                               Impact of the past

September 6                                                               Political Institutions (group presentation)

September 8                                                               Film and current affairs



September 13                                                           Impact of the past

September 15                                                          Political Institutions (group presentation)             

September 20, 22                                                    Culture, interactions and quarrels, film




September 27                                                                Impact of the past

September 29                                                               Governance and Policy Making


October 4                                                                     Group presentation or film

October 6                                                                     Chinese politics in transition



October 11                             Midterm



October 13                                                    Impact of the Past (Film)

October 18                                                    Key Institutions and Political Interactions

October 20                                                    Current affairs




October 25                                                            the Making of Modern Iranian State

October 27                                                           Governance and Policy Making (presentation)

November 1, 3                                                     Iranian politics in transition (film)



November 8                                                         Brief history and Colonial influence, Independence 1945

November 10                                                       The New Order, The Reformasi (presentation)

November 15                                                        Current Indonesia and study review



November 17                                                      Brief History

November 22                                                      Governmental Institutions (presentation)

November 29                                                      Current issues and problems



Tuesday December 6, 2005 (10-11.50 am)                        Final exam.