Northern Illinois University

Department of Political Science

Spring 2008, Dusable 459

Section 2: T & Th 9:30-10:45



Professor: Kheang Un

Office: Pottenger House Room 200

Phone: 815-753-8822; email: kun1@niu.edu

Office Hours: W&F 10-12:00 and by appointment


This course is NIU’s introduction to the study of political systems outside the United States.  As such, it has two main goals.  First, it will give you a chance to study the politics of particular countries you probably know little about.  Second, it seeks to convey analytical approaches to the study of politics and to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on some of the essential questions, old and new, with which students of politics have to grapple.  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.


To achieve its comparative goal, this course will examine the political systems of Great Britain, Japan, China, Russia, and Iran.


Course Policies and Requirements


1.  The Learning Environment. Your instructor is committed to the principle of active learning.  This principle requires students’ active involvement in, commitment to, and responsibility for their own education.  Hence, it is important that students conduct themselves in ways that indicate respect for the learning community and the learning process.  Respect for the learning community should preclude such behavior as persistent tardiness, leaving the room during class time (unless prior advice was given to the instructor or in case of emergency), falling asleep, reading the newspaper, studying for another class, and chatting with others.


2. Readings and Lecture. Please purchase a copy of textbook for this course:  Michael G. Roskin, Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture 9th edition at the Student Center or at the Village Common Bookstore.  Assigned readings outside the textbook are available on course blackboard.   Some short readings may also be distributed in class.


Lectures will parallel and compliments the readings.  As such, students cannot just rely solely on lectures or readings.


3. Class attendance and Participation.  Attendance at all class sessions is expected, and the instructor will check the attendance regularly.  Students are allowed to miss the class a total five times during the semester.  An additional absence will result in lowering the final grade by one letter.  Informed participation in class discussion will significantly help students in borderline grade situations.

4. Exams, Quizzes, and Written Assignments.  This course will have two exams taken in class.  The first exam (which is worth 30 percent of the total grade), will be on February 28.  The final exam, worth 40 percent of the total grade, will be taken during the regular final exam day, May 8, 10-11:50.  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.  Group written assignments will be worth 20 percent.  The class will be divided into five groups and each group will engage in periodical discussion on current issues (quarrels) in each of five countries covered in this class.  Students are required to do extra research for group written reports (a minimum of five up-to-date sources are required).  There will also be some pop quizzes given without prior notice.  The total points from all quizzes will be worth 10 percent of the total course grade.

5. Course Grade.  Course Grades will be distributed as follows:

            Final Average                                      Final Grade

            90-100 %                                                         A

            80-89 %                                                           B

            70-79%                                                            C

            60-69%                                                            D

            Below 60%                                                     F


6. Academic Integrity.  Students are expected to know and comply with NIU polices on academic integrity (see p. 47 of 2001 Undergraduate Catalog).  Any student found guilty of cheating or plagiarizing will receive an “F” for the examination and the course.  He or she may also be subject to additional sanctions imposed by the university.


7. 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.


8. 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.


9. 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



               Schedule of Lectures, Required Readings, and Exams

January 15

            Introduction to the Course 

January 17

Key Concepts

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 1-15.

 January 22

Key Concepts continued

            Reading:Roskin, pp. 1-15.             

January 24

Great Britain: Impact of the Past

Reading: Roskin, pp. 18-29.

Great Britain: Political Culture

Reading: Roskin, pp. 46-57.   

January 29

 Great Britain: Elections and Parties

Reading: Roskin, pp. 58-69. 

Studlar, Donley, “A Revised British Constitution: Tony Blair’s Lasting      Legacy?” in Christiane Soe ed., Annual Edition/Comparative Politics            07/07 (Dubuque: McGraw Hill/Contemporary Learning Series, 2008), pp.        26-32. [Available on course blackboard].  

January 31

 Great Britain: Key Institutions

            Reading: Roskin, pp.30-45

            Video: “Order! Order!” VIDEO: JN508 .O6331994

February 5

 Group Discussion: Quarrels in Great Britain

            Reading:  Roskin, pp. 70-83.

February 7

Russia: Impact of the Past

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 261-277; box on page 284 (democracy); box on page                         311 (personalities); box on page 313 (personalities); box on page 318                              (personalities)

February 12

Russia: Political Culture

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 294-307.

February 14

Russia: Government Institutions

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 278-291; p. 314 (comparison: semi-presidential …);                           box on page 316 (key concepts: runaway); pp. 317-320.

                        Lavelle, Peter, “What Does Putin Want?” in Christiane Soe ed., Annual                              Edition/Comparative Politics 07/07 (Dubuque: McGraw                                                       Hill/Contemporary Learning Series, 2008), pp. 149-152.

                        [Available on course blackboard].


February 19

Russia: Parties and Elections

            Reading: Roskin, box on page 286 (Democracy: Russia’s 2004); box on                              page 290 (Democracy); p. 291 (A party system ….)- 292; pp. 309-310.

February 21

Group Discussion: Quarrels in Russia

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 322-335; p. 314 (taming the oligarch)-315.

                        Marshal, Goldman, “Putin and the Oligarchs,” Foreign Affairs Vol. 83, no                                     6 (2004), pp. 33-44. [Available on course blackboard].

February 26

Catch up and Review

February 28

            First Exam

March 4

 Japan: Impact of the Past

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 337-351.

            Video: “Meiji: Asia’s Response to the West.” DS882 .M4451992

            The Economist, “Japanese Spirit, Western Things,” in Christiane Soe ed.,                            Annual Edition/Comparative Politics 07/07 (Dubuque: McGraw                                           Hill/Contemporary Learning Series, 2008), pp. 59-61.                                                         [Aavailable on course blackboard].

March 6

Japan: Political Culture

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 366-379.

March 11 Spring Break!!!

March 13 Spring Break!!!

March 18

Japan: Elections and Parties

            Reading: pp. 358 (the parties)-362; pp. 385-388; box on page 389                                        (democracy)

March 20

Japan: Government Institutions

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 352-358; pp. 382-385; pp. 362 (the Ministries)-365;                           p. 388 (no one in charge)-389.

            Video: “Inside Japan, Inc.” DS 849.U61574 1992           

March 25

 Discussion: Quarrels in Japan

            Reading: Roskin, pp.392-405.

                        Minier, Jean-Francois, “Japan’s Big Bang: Too Little, Too Late?” Far                                  Eastern Economic Review (December 2006), pp. 17-21.                                                        [Available on course blackboard].

March 27

China: Impact of the Past

            Video: “Two Coasts of China.” DS706 .T8631992

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 408-421.

April 01

China: Political Culture:

            Reading: Roskin, pp.436-438; box on page 452 (the Great Leap Forward);             box on page 453 (The Great Proletariat ...); pp. 440-442.             

April 3

            No Class—Professor attends Association of Asian Studies Meetings


April 8

China: Government Institutions

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 422-435.

                        Guthrie, Dough, “China: The quiet Revolution” Harvard International                                Review, Summer 2003, pp.48-53. [Available on course blackboard].

April 10

 Group discussion: Quarrels in China

            Reading: Roskin, pp. P. 439 (Nationalism); pp.443 (Crouching Anger ...)-                           448; pp. 451-477.

April 15

Iran: Impact of the Past

            Reading: Roskin, pp. 542-549.

            Video: “Which Way Next for Iran?” DS 318.825.W45 2000             

April 17

 Iran: Political Culture

            Reading: Roskin, box on page 552 (Is Islam Anti-Modern); pp. 553                                    (Iranian Political Culture)-563.                        

April 22

Iran: Political Institutions, Elections and Parties

                        Reading: Roskin, pp. 549-553.       

April 24

Group discussion: Quarrels in Iran

            Reading: Roskin, pp.563-571.

                        Afshin Molavi, “Buying Time in Tehran: Iran the China Model,” Foreign                           Affairs, 83, 2004, pp. 9-16. [Available on course blackboard].

April 29

            Class Evaluation and Catch Up

May 01


May 8

Final Exam 10-11:50