Northern Illinois University

Department of Political Science

Fall 2006, Dusable 459

Section 2: M, W, F 9:00-9:50



Professor: Kheang Un

Office: Zulauf 405

Phone: 815-753-7054; email: kun1@niu.edu

Office Hours: W&F 10-12:00 and by appointment


This course is NIU’s introduction to the study of political systems 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 analytical approaches 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.  Your new understanding from this class should enhance your role as citizens in a democracy, i.e., enable you to make more informed judgments on the policies that our leaders propose to follow in dealing with foreign countries.


To achieve its comparative goal, this course will examine the political systems of Great Britain, France, Japan, China, Russia, and Iran.


Course Policies and Requirements


1.  The Learning Environment. Your instructor is committed to the principle of active learning.  This principle requires 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.  Respect for the learning community should preclude such behavior as persistent tardiness, leaving the room during class time (unless prior advice was given to the instructor or in case of emergency), falling asleep, reading the newspaper, studying for another class, and chatting with others.


2. Readings and Lecture. Please purchase a copy of textbook for this course:  Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture 9th edition at the Student Center or at the Village Common Bookstore.  Some short readings may also be distributed in class.


Lectures will parallel and compliments the readings.  As such, students cannot just rely solely on lectures or readings.


3. Class attendance and Participation.  Attendance at all class sessions is expected, and the instructor will check the attendance regularly.  Students are allowed to miss the class a total five times during the semester.  An additional absence will result in lowering final grade by one letter.  Informed participation in class discussion will significantly help students in borderline grade situations.


4. Exams.  This course will have three exams.  Two will be midterms written in class on October 02 and November 03.  Each of these exams will be worth 30 percent of the total course grade.  A final exam, worth 30 percent, will be taken during the regular final exam day, December 13 from 8:00-9:50 pm.  The format of each exam will be a combination of essay, short answer, and multiple-choice.  No make up exam will be offered, except in cases of emergency, as defined by the instructor, and with advance notification.  There will also be some pop quizzes given without prior notice.  The total points from all quizzes will be worth 10 percent of the total course grade.


5. Course Grade.  Course Grades will be distributed as follows:

            Final Average                                      Final Grade

            90-100 %                                                         A

            80-89 %                                                           B

            65-79%                                                            C

            50-64                                                               D

            Below 50%                                                     F


6. Academic Integrity.  Students are expected to know and comply with NIU polices on academic integrity (see p. 47 of 2001 Undergraduate Catalog).  Any student found guilty of cheating or plagiarizing will receive an “F” for the examination and the course.  He or she may also be subject to additional sanctions imposed by the university.


7. 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.


8. 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.


9. Department of Political Science Web Site.  Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science’s 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



               Schedule of Lectures, Required Readings, and Exams


August 28

Introduction to the course


August 30

Key Concepts

Reading: Roskin, pp. 1-15.


September 01

Key Concepts continued

Reading:Roskin, pp. 1-15.


September 04

            No Class: Labor Day!!!


September 06

Great Britain: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp. 18-29.


September 08

Great Britain: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 46-57.


Sept 11

Great Britain: Elections and Parties

Reading: Roskin, pp. 58-69.


Sept 13

Great Britain: Key Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp.30-45

Video: “Order! Order!” VIDEO: JN508 .O6331994


Sept. 15

Great Britain: Quarrels

Reading:  Roskin, pp. 70-83.

Donley Studlar, “A Constitutional Revolution in Britain?” in Christine   Soe ed., Annual Edition: Comparative Politics, 03/04, (Guilford: McGraw, 2004), pp. 12-17. [to be handed out].


Sept 18

France: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp. 86-99.

Video: “The Death of the Old Regime: The French Revolution.”

VIDEO: CB245 .D4271989


Sept 20

France: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 132-145; pp. 116-131.


Sept 22

France: Elections and Parties

Reading: Roskin, pp. 112 (France’s electoral...)-113; p. 129 (democracy); pp.133-

141; box on page 142 (democracy)


Sept 25

France: Key Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 100-112, pp. 114-115; pp. 141 (business and …)-145.


Sept 27

France: Quarrels

Reading: Roskin, pp. 146-159.

Matine Durand and John Martin, “The 35-hour week: Portrait of a French Exception,” OECD Observer, No. 244 (September 04), pp. 10-12; The Economist, “France’s Failure,” and “An Underclass Rebellion,” November 12, 05); pp.11-12, 24-26 [to be handed out].

Sept 29

Catch-up and Reviews


Oct 02

Exam I


Oct 04

Japan: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp. 337-351.

Video: “Meiji: Asia’s Response to the West.” DS882 .M4451992


Oct 06

Japan: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 366-379.


Oct 09

Japan: Elections and Parties

Reading: pp. 358 (the parties)-362; pp. 385-388; box on page 389 (democracy)


Oct 11

Japan: Government Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 351-358; pp. 382-385; pp. 362 (the Ministries)-365; p. 388

(no one in charge)-389.

Video: “Inside Japan, Inc.” DS 849.U61574 1992


Oct 13

            Government Institutions (continued)


Oct 16

Japan: Quarrels

Reading: Roskin, pp.392-405.

            The Economist, “The Sun Also Rises,” (October 8, 05), pp. 3-6.

            [to be handed out].


Oct 18

Russia: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp. 261-277; Box on page 284 (democracy); box on page 311 (personalities); box on page 313 (personalities); box on page 318 (personalities).


Oct 20

            Impact of the Past (continued)

            Video: “Looking for Perestroika” HC336.26.C664 1990


Oct 23

Russia: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 294-307.


Oct 25

Russia: Government Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 278-291; p. 314 (comparison: semi-presidential ...); box on

page 316 (key concepts: runaway); pp.317-320.


Oct 27

Russia: Parties and Elections

Reading: Roskin, box on p. 286 (Democracy: Russia’s 2004); box on page 290 (Democracy); 291 (A party system ...)-292; pp. 309-310.


Oct 30

Russia: Quarrels

Reading: Roskin, pp. 322-335; p. 314 (taming the oligarch).

            M. Goldman, “Putin and the Oligarchs,” Foreign Affairs Vol. 86

            (Novemebr/December 2004), pp. 33-44.       

            The Economist, “The Challenger,” December 11, 2004, p. 9; “Vladimir

            III?” pp. 46-47. [to be handed out].


Nov 01

            Review and Catch Up


Nov 03

            Exam II


Nov 06

China: Impact of the Past

Video: “Two Coasts of China.” DS706 .T8631992

Reading: Roskin, pp. 408-421.


Nov 08

            Impact of the Past (continued)

China: Political Culture:

Reading: Roskin, pp.436-438; box on page 452 (the Great Leap Forward); box on page 453 (The Great Proletariat ...); pp. 440-442.


Nov 10

China: Political Culture (continued)

China: Government Institutions

Reading: Roskin, pp. 422-435.


Nov 13

China: Quarrels

Reading: Roskin, pp. P. 439 (Nationalism); pp.443 (Crouching Anger ...)-448;


Video: “China” HC 427.92C457 1999


Nov 15

            China: Quarrels (continued)

Readings: Minxin Pei, “The Dark Side of China’s Rise,” Foreign Policy,    March/April 2006, pp. 32-40 [to be handed out].


Nov 17

China Quarrels (continued)


Nov 20

Iran: Impact of the Past

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 542-549.

            Video: “Which Way Next for Iran?” DS 318.825.W45 2000           


Nov 22

            No Class: Thanksgiving Break!!!


Nov 24

            No Class: Thanksgiving Break!!!


Nov 27

            Impact of the Past (continued)



Nov 29

            Iran: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, box on page 552 (Is Islam Anti-Modern); pp. 553 (Iranian

Political Culture)-563.


Dec 01

Iran: Political Institutions, Elections and Parties

            Reading: Roskin, pp459-553.


Dec 04

Iran: Political Institutions, Elections and Parties (continued)

            Iran: Quarrels

Reading: Roskin, pp. pp.563-571.



Dec 06

            Afshin Molavi, “Buying Time in Tehran: Iran the China Model,” Foreign Affairs,

83, 2004, pp. 9-16. [to be handed out];

            The Economist, “Still Failing, Still Defiant,” pp. 23-25 [to be handed out].

            Iran: Quarrels (continued)


Dec 08

            Catch up and reviews


Dec 13