Professor Danny Unger Political Science 260

Office: 305 Zulauf DuSable 246

Office Hours: T, W 12:30-1:30 Tu, Th 11-12:15



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 then analyze in greater depth the political systems of particular nations, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, 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 2004, the book was revised, 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, Eighth Edition, Prentice Hall, 2004

Assigned readings not found in Roskin will be available online or on reserve at Founders Library.

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 

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.

January 18, introduction to the course, assignments

January 20, states and nations

Roskin, ch.1

January 25, authoritarian and democratic states

Roskin, chs.2-3

January 27, United Kingdom

Roskin, ch.4

Feburary 1, United Kingdom (2)

Roskin, chs.5-6

February 3, United Kingdom (3) and review

Roskin, ch.7


February 8, France (1)

Roskin, chs.8-9

February 10, France (2)

Roskin, chs.10-11

February 15, France (3) and film

Roskin, chs.22-23

February 17, Japan (1)

Roskin, ch.24

February 22, Japan (2)

Roskin, chs.25-26


February 24, Russia (1)

Roskin, chs.17-18

March 1, Russia (2)

Roskin, chs.19-20

March 3, review and film

Roskin, ch.21

March 8, midterm examination

March 10, film

Roskin, ch.12

March 15 and 17, no class

March 22, Germany (1)

Roskin, chs.13-14

March 24, Germany (2)

Roskin, chs.15-16

March 29, China (1)

Roskin, pp.416-32

March 31, China (2)

Roskin, pp.433-47


April 5, film

April 7, Iran (1)

Roskin, pp.518-34

April 12, Iran (2)

Roskin, pp.535-49

April 14, South Africa (1)

Roskin, pp.482-503

April 19, South Africa (2)

Roskin, pp.503-16

April 21, Brazil (1)

Roskin, pp.448-66


April 26, Brazil (2)

Roskin, pp.467-81

April 28, Thailand (1)

May 3, Thailand (2)

May 5, exam review

May 10, final exam, 10-11:50 a.m.