T, Th 3:30-4:45, DuSable 246                                                                    POLS 260

Professor Danny Unger, dunger@niu.edu                                                         Section four

Office hours: Zulauf 105, T 1:45-3; Th 2-3                                                            Fall 2009




Introduction to Comparative Politics


This course introduces students to the comparative study of politics, providing information about how different kinds of political systems work and the terms and concepts necessary to study different political systems. We will look at politics in a general way and analyze in greater depth the political systems of ten countries: China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

A major purpose of Political Science 260 is to open your minds to the diversity of political systems found in the world. The course aims to help you study these systems critically and with an open mind. The more you learn about politics and people throughout the world, the more you will understand about yourself and your own government.


We will read a comparative politics text by Michael G. Roskin entitled Countries and Concepts. In 2008, the book was revised (10th edition,) making it relatively up-to-date. To benefit as much as possible from class meetings, students should do the assigned readings before the class for which for which they are assigned.


In addition, students will benefit enormously by keeping up with current news developments. This will help them raise questions and to understand current affairs around the world. In addition to using web sites noted in the text as well as other online sources, students should consider subscribing to publications such as The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, or The New York Times.


Required text

-Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts, Politics, Geography, Culture, Tenth Edition, Prentice Hall


Course requirements

Class attendance and participation                                                     20

Quizzes (best three scores), 7 points X 3                                            21

Midterm exam                                                                                     24

Final exam                                                                                           35


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 


The Department of Political Science Statement on Academic Integrity

Cheating will not be tolerated in class. There are many types of cheating. The NIU Undergraduate Catalog states that "Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written whole or in part by someone else….If any student aids another student in either cheating or engaging in plagiarism, both students will be held responsible for their behavior."



Schedule of lectures and readings


Assigned readings should be done prior to the class meetings for which they are assigned.


Introduction to concepts in comparative politics

August 25, Course mechanics and requirements assignments

August 27, Key concepts in comparative politics

            Roskin, Ch.1


United Kingdom

September 1, Roskin, Ch.2

September 3, Roskin, Ch.3

September 8, Roskin, Chs.4-5 (Professor Unger dispensing cigars)

September 10, Roskin, Ch.6 (Professor Unger dispensing cigars)



September 15, Ch.7

September 17, Ch.8


September 22, Chs.9-10

September 24, Ch.11



September 29, Ch.12

October 1, Ch.13



October 6, Roskin, pp.258-274

October 8, pp.274-293



October 13, Midterm examination



October 15, Ch.19

October 20, Ch.20



October 22, Ch.24

October 27, Ch.25

October 29, Chs.26-27

November 3, Ch.28



November 5, pp.444-458


November 10, pp.458-474


November 12, pp.477-493

November 17, pp.493-509



November 19, pp.511-524

November 24, pp.524-539



December 1, pp.541-555

December 3, pp.555-570



December 8, final exam, 4-5:50