Department of Political Science


Instructor: Srie Ramli                                                                                POLS 260

Office: ZH 422                                                                                          Section 02 (Spring 2005)

Phone: 753-7044                                                                                       MW 3.30-4.45

Office hours: M-W 2.30-3.00                                                                   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.  In the effort to understand why political system 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, and 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 attempts to explain similarities and differences in their performance. Because of the large amount of new material to be covered, this course will be primarily a lecture course, though with occasional classroom discussions.

            The objective is that students who successfully completed this course can have the ability to examine political systems of the six countries by contrasting and comparing aspects of these political systems. This way, they are expected to understand how other societies are organized and governed and also better understanding of their own countries’ politics.



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

In-class handouts

Videos (if time and schedule permit)


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.  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 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 and remaining in ones seat, requesting permission to speak and exclude persistent lateness, studying for another class, and reading newspaper.  Note that entering and leaving the room while class is in progress is 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 three exams.  Two of these will be midterms in class on March 2 and  April 6, 2005.  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 30% of your course grade and take place during the regularly scheduled final exam period (May 9, 2005).  The format of the exam 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.


Quizzes and Journals

            There will be 6 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. 



Each student is supposed to read 5 articles (per countries) 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 three times during the semester (February 28, April 4, and May 4, 2005). Students are supposed to read articles on countries that we cover. Therefore, the first journal should include at least 10 articles on England and France and the second journal should have articles on China and Japan.  The third journal includes articles about Iran and Indonesia. 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.      

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 and class reports                 15%

B.  Quizzes and Journals                                                    15%

C.  Midterm exam (1)                                                        20%

D.  Midterm exam (2)                                                        20%

E.  Final Exam                                                                   30%


Course grades will be distributed as follows:

Final average                                                                                Final Grade

      90-100%                                                                                        A

      80-89%                                                                                          B

      60-79%                                                                                          C

      50-59%                                                                                          D

      Below 50%                                                                                    F







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.


Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities


NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandates reasonable accommodations be provided for qualified students with disabilities.  If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the accommodations for students with disabilities.  The CAAR office is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Service building (815-753-1303). I look forward to talking to you soon to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.



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


January 19                                                         Introduction: go over the syllabus and class     requirements


Concepts: Nation and State, Comparing Polities

January 24, 26                                                              Read: Roskin chp 1

January 31                                                                    Political Systems, Political institutions and process


Great Britain

February 2                                                                   Impact of the past (Roskin chp.2)

February 7, 9                                                               Political Institutions (Roskin Chp. 3)

February 14                                                                 Culture, patterns of interactions and quarrels

                                                                                     (Roskin Chp.4-6)



February 16                                                                Impact of the past (Roskin Chp. 7)

February 21, 23                                                          Political Institutions (Roskin chp 8)             

February 28                                                                Culture, interactions and quarrels (Roskin Chp 9-11)

                                                                                   First Journal due today! The journal must include at least ten (10) articles.


Midterm 1

March 2



March 7                                                                    Impact of the past (Roskin chp. 27)

March 9                                                                    Governance and Policy Making (Roskin chp 27 and handouts).


March 12-20                                                             Spring Break!  Have fun!!!


March 21, 23                                                             Representation and participation; Chinese politics in transition



March 28                                                                 Impact of the Past (Roskin chp. 22)

March 30, April 4                                                    Key Institutions and Political Interactions (Roskin chp. 23)

                                                                                 Second Journal due April 4


Midterm 2

April 6



April 11                                                                  The Making of Modern Iranian State (Roskin chp. 30)

April 13, 18                                                            Governance and Policy Making (in-class handouts, TBA)

April 20                                                                  Iranian politics in transition



April 25                                                                  Traditional and Colonial influence, Independence 1945 (Readings: TBA, in-class handouts)

April 27, May 2                                                       The New Order, The Reformasi (Readings, TBA)

May 4                                                                       Current Indonesia and study review

                                                                                 Third (and last) Journal is due today!



Monday May 9, 2005   (4-5.50pm)                        Final exam.