Introduction to Comparative Politics
Department of Political Science
DU 461, MW 3:30-4:45
Instructor: Sokbunthoeun So
Office: DuSable 476
Tel: 753-1818 (Please do not leave message. The best way to contact me is to come by during my office hours or through e-mail)
Office hours: M&W 10-11:30 and by appointment
This course is an introduction to the study of comparative politics. It is designed with two main goals. First, it seeks to familiarize you with analytical approaches to the study of politics and to give you the opportunity to reflect on some important political issues in democratic and non-democratic countries today. Second, it gives you the opportunity to learn about various countries’ political system. 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.
This course will examine the political systems of
purchase a copy of textbook for this course: Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography,
Culture 9th edition at the
Lectures will parallel and compliments the readings. As such, students cannot just rely solely on lectures or readings.
This course will have two exams and a written assignment. One exam will be midterm (worth 30 percent) written in class on Mar 5. A final exam, worth 40% percent, will be taken on May 02. 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. If such circumstances arise, please contact me as soon as possible and where possible before the scheduled exam. Students will be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation. No makeup exam will be allowed unless arrangements are made before the regularly scheduled exam has been graded and returned. Incomplete requests will be granted only in unusual circumstances, when supported with documentation. Missing an exam in itself is not a reason for an incomplete.
The assignment (worth 20%) will allow you to apply one or more of the concepts we study to specific countries or events that interest you. The assignment should be about 3-5 pages. More information will be provided in class. One extra credit assignment, worth up to 5%, is available at your option.
Overall course grade will be assessed according to the followings:
Mid-term 30% Mar 5
Paper 20% April 9
Final 40% May 2
Attendance and thoughtful participation 10%
Attendance and class participation
Students are expected to attend all class sessions. I will check attendance at the start or the end of every session. One or two absence is allowed and may not affect your final grade. However, since the attendance and class participation worth 10 percent of the final grade, frequent absences will limit your ability to achieve maximum grade. The attendance and participation grade is designed to reward students who came to class prepared. A full 10 percent grade is rewarded to students, who are present, attentive, and thoughtfully contributing to class discussions.
Course Grade: Course Grades will be distributed as follows:
Final Average Final Grade
90-100 % A
80-89 % B
Below 50% F
Students are to arrive at class on time. Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the instructor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. For instance, it is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. Disrespectful behavior either toward instructor or other fellow students will not be tolerated. Students, who behave inappropriately, will be asked to leave. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.
Academic Integrity. Students are expected to know and comply with NIU policies on academic integrity (see p. 47 of 2001 Undergraduate Catalog). The use without proper acknowledgement of the ideas or work of another person is cheating/ plagiarism. The Undergraduate Catalog states: "students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university."
All quotations and all paraphrasing of the ideas of others must be referenced. All sources, including the internet, must be clearly referenced by a recognised form of footnotes, endnotes or in‑text referencing, and in a bibliography. Note that all internet referencing must include the author or institution in the reference, and with all of your sources, but particularly with the internet, you must be careful to use only reputable works that are appropriate to academic writing.
Students with Disabilities
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
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
Introduction to the Course
Key Concepts continued
Reading: Roskin, pp.30-45
Video: “Order! Order!” VIDEO: JN508 .O6331994
Donley Studlar, “A Constitutional
Video: “The Death of the Old Regime: The French Revolution.”
141; box on page 142 (democracy)
Reading: Roskin, pp. 100-112, pp. 114-115; pp. 141 (business and …)-145.
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, “
Catch up and Review
March 12. Spring Break
March 14. Spring Break
(no one in charge)-389.
Video: “Inside Japan, Inc.” DS 849.U61574 1992
Reading: Roskin, pp.392-405.
The Economist, “The Sun Also Rises,” (October 8, 05), pp. 3-6.
Video: “Two Coasts of
Reading: Roskin, pp.436-438; box on page 452 (the Great Leap Forward); box on page 453 (The Great Proletariat ...); pp. 440-442.
Written Assignment Due at the beginning of class
Video: “Which Way Next for
Reading: Roskin, box on page 552 (Is Islam Anti-Modern); pp. 553 (Iranian
Reading: Roskin, pp459-553.
Molavi, “Buying Time in
83, 2004, pp. 9-16. [Electronic Reserve];
The Economist, “Still Failing, Still Defiant,” pp. 23-25 [Electronic Reserve].
Catch Up and Reviews
Final Exam 3:30-5:20