Department of Political Science



Instructor:    Srie Ramli                                                                         POLS 260                                                            

Office:   ZH 422                                                                                   Section 01

Phone:   753-7044                                                                               MWF, 10-10.50

Office hours:                                                                                         DuSable 459






This course is an introduction to the comparative study of government and politics.  It seeks to understand how political authority is organized and how it operates in a variety of nations.  In its effort to understand why political systems 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, 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 which individuals and groups attempt to influence the output of government, and attempts to explain similarities and differences in their performance.

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



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

In-class handouts

Videos (if time and scheduling permit)


Course Requirements and Grading:

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.  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 reading and lectures.


Attendance and class participation

Attendance at all class sessions is expected and I will check attendance regularly. 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 discussion in a manner that reflects they have read the required materials.

After the first week of class, I request that you try to sit in approximately the same place to facilitate our learning to associate names with real live people and 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, leaving the class room during class time (I will count any "walkouts" as absences unless the student has permission or there is an emergency), studying for another class, and reading a newspaper.  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 the midterms in class on February 23 and March 29.  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 (May 3).  The format of each exam will be a combination of essay, short answer, and multiple choice.  NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN, except at the discretion of the instructor in the case of emergencies.  If there are any problems or conflicts, contact the instructor well in advance of the exam. 



There will be 6 unannounced quizzes given in class throughout the semester.  These quizzes will deal with the reading assigned for that particular day and the best 4 will be counted toward your final grade.


Components of Final Grade:

A.  Attendance and participation           = 15%

B.  Quizzes                                             = 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

65-79%                                                                                       C

50-64%                                                                                       D

Below 50%                                                                                 F



A.     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.

B.     Handouts, including study guides, are privilege for students who attend class on a regular basis.  No student is entitled to supplemental materials simply because they are registered for the course.

C.     Email: please allow 24 hours during the week and 36 hours during the weekend for receipt and response.

D.     Important dates to remember: 

February 23    midterm 1

March 29        midterm 2

May 3             Final exam 



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 Service Building.  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CAAR and instructor 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


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 29, 2004. 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 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.


Course Schedule


January 12                                                           Introduction


Concepts: Nation and State, Comparing Polities


January 14, 16                                                     Read: Roskin chapter 1


January 19                                                            MLK Day no class


January 21, 23   Political Systems,

                          Political Institutions, Political Process                                                        


Great Britain



January 26   Impact of the Past                                   Read: Roskin Ch.2 pp 22-35


January 28, 30, February 2   Political Institutions                 Roskin ch.3 pp. 36-52


February 4, 6  Political Culture, Patterns of Interaction, Quarrels                                                     

                                                                                               Roskin ch 4 pp 53-65

                                                                                               Roskin ch.5 pp.66-78

                                                                                               Roskin ch.6 pp. 79-93




February 19  Impact of the Past                                          Roskin ch.7 pp. 96-112


February 11, 13, 16   Political Institutions                           Roskin ch. 8 pp. 113-129


February 18, 20  Political Culture, Patterns of Interaction   Roskin ch 9-10 pp. 130-161

                                                                                              Roskin ch. 11 pp. 162-175

February 23  Midterm 1




February 25  Impact of the Past                                          Roskin ch. 27 pp. 416-446


February 27, March 1, 3  Governance and Policy Making 


March 5  Representation and Participation


(March 6-14: Spring break)                                             Have a nice break!




March 15  Impact of the Past                                           Roskin ch. 22 pp. 340-353


March 17, 19, 22  Key Institutions                                   Roskin ch. 23 pp. 354-366


March 24, 26  Political Culture, Pol. Interactions, Quarrels                                             

                                                                                          Roskin ch. 24 pp. 367-381

                                                                                          Roskin ch. 25 pp. 382-395

                                                                                          Roskin ch. 26 pp. 396-411


March 29  Midterm 2



March 31 -  April 2 The Making of Modern Iranian State        Roskin ch. 30 pp. 518-549


April 5, 7, 9  Governance and Policy Making                           


April 12  Representation and Participation                                 Readings, TBA




April 14, 16, 19  Traditional and Colonial influence, Independence 1945

                                                                                                     Readings, TBA (handouts)


April 21, 23, Independence to 1965, The New Order                 Readings, TBA 


April 26 Reformation, Looking Ahead                                        Readings TBA


April 28  Review Study Guide


April 30 (reading day, no class)


May 3 Final Exam  10-11.5