POLS 260-3: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Spring Semester 2008


Instructor: Mariana Cotromanes

Class: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9AM-9:50AM

Location: DuSable 459

Email: mcotroma@niu.edu

Office Hours and Location: Monday and Friday, 10AM-11:30AM in the POLS Graduate Assistants Office (DU 476), and by appointment


Course Background

This course seeks to analyze the political systems of various countries throughout the world.  To this end, we will discuss the history, culture, and politics of Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Mexico, Nigeria, and India. 


Course Work


Course Materials

The readings are assigned according the course schedule below.  Please have the readings done prior to attending a class meeting.  The readings are integral to class lecture, discussions, exams, pop quizzes, and papers, so it is vital that the readings are completed.  There are documents on e-reserves (for when we cover Germany, Russia and India), but for the majority of this course, we will be reading the following book (available at the University Bookstore, Village Commons Bookstore, and Amazon.com). 


Michael G. Roskin.  2007.  Countries and Concepts: Politics, Geography, Culture, 9th edition (Prentice Hall).


In addition, we will be watching videos in class on occasion; issues concerning the videos may appear in class assignments (pop quizzes, exams, papers, etc.).  If you miss a class in which a video was shown, there is no guarantee that you will have access to it. 



Attendance will be taken at every class meeting, but officially there is no attendance policy; though it is strongly encouraged to come to class.  If at the end of the semester students have “borderline grades” and I see that they have attended class often, I will consider bumping their grades up to the next grade.  Attendance is also strongly encouraged because some topics will be covered in classes which are not in the textbook. 


Participation (20 points)

Participation is worth 20 points of your grade.  If you are not in class, you obviously cannot participate, so attendance is thus encouraged. At times there will be group activities which will be part of this participation grade. 

Grading of participation is based upon the thoughtfulness and frequency of comments during class discussion and group activities.  For example, frequent and voluntary participation with insightful comments will receive full credit.  However, if participation is sporadic, involuntary, or non-existent, this will be looked upon as barely above average, average, or below average/failing, respectively. 


Pop Quizzes (20 points)

Attendance is also encouraged through occasional pop quizzes, which are worth 20 points of your grade.  These quizzes will take place at the end of class meetings, and they will be open note (but not closed book)— basically, if you come to class and take good notes on the lecture, you should do well.   


Papers (60 points)

There will be two papers, each worth 30 points of your grade (a 60 point total).  They should be five to seven pages (12-point font, Times New Roman, double-spaced)—papers should absolutely not be any shorter than five pages, or any longer than seven (the quality of your work will likely suffer if the paper is too short or too long, which may result in a lower grade).  Quotes and ideas from the book and other sources should be cited in the following format: (Smith, 15).  There must be a bibliography at the end of the paper.  Beware of plagiarism, as it will not be taken lightly—it will result in failing the assignment, if not the entire course. 

Grading is based upon the student’s ability to adequately answer the question, while integrating class materials and reflecting thoughtful analysis of the question.  My grading guidelines will be handed out to the class on January 28th, when we discuss “how to write a paper” and “what is plagiarism?”  At this time, paper #1’s topic will be handed out.


Exams (75 points)

There will be three exams, each with 50 multiple choice questions.  Each exam is worth 25 points, for a total of 75 points.  We will spend one day reviewing for an exam, a full class meeting taking the exam, and the following class meeting will be mainly spent reviewing and discussing the exam to resolve any issues or questions. 


Grade Breakdown


Participation: 20 points

Pop Quizzes: 20 points

Papers (2): 60 points

Exams (3): 75 points

Total: 175 points


Important Dates


February 15: Paper #1 due (covering Great Britain and France)

February 27: Exam #1 (covering Great Britain, France, and Germany)

March 31: Paper #2 due (covering Russia)

April 11: Exam #2 (covering China and Russia)

May 7: Exam #3 (Final Exam) (covering Mexico, Nigeria, and India)


Special Notes/Class Policies



Items on this syllabus are subject to change.  You will be notified of such changes either in class or by email.  Please be sure to check your email on a weekly, if not daily, basis. 



Please do not hesitate to meet with me during office hours if any help is needed with course work (paper writing, considering a political science major, understanding the material better, etc.).  Communication by email is also strongly encouraged.



Professional conduct in class is expected.  This includes, but is not limited to: coming to class on time, acting with respect towards others and the opinions they express, no phone calls (cell phones absolutely must be turned off!!!), no text messaging, no private conversations, no sleeping, no newspaper reading, no internet surfing, etc.  If behavior becomes disruptive I reserve the right to ask individual(s) to leave the classroom.   



Students will be held to the academic integrity standards as articulated by the Northern Illinois University Undergraduate Catalog.  During exams students will be watched closely for cheating and papers will be checked closely for plagiarism.  Cheating of any sort will be taken very seriously; the consequence may be failing an assignment, or even the entire course.


Late Papers

Late papers are absolutely NOT accepted.  If you do not turn in a paper on time, you will receive a zero for that paper.  To turn in a paper late there must be extreme circumstances, for which you can provide official documentation.  Also, you must contact me as soon as possible before the paper is due.  The purpose of this is so that all students have the same amount of time to complete an assignment and get graded on it; this policy is made to encourage fairness.


Makeup Exams

There are NO makeup exams.  If you miss an exam you will receive a zero for that exam.  Only under extreme circumstances (for which you must provide official documentation) can a makeup exam be taken.  Also, you must contact me as soon as possible before the paper is due.


Students with Disabilities

NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding provision of reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.  If you have a disability and need instructional or examination accommodation, please contact me immediately in order to provide the necessary accommodations.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. CAAR is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (753-1303).


Undergraduate Writing Awards

According to the NIU Department of Political Science: it will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding 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 Monday, March 3, 2008 at 4:30 p.m.  All copies should have two cover pages: one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name.  The student’s name should not be listed in a header or footer.  Only papers written during 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.  There are no requirements concerning the length of the paper. For more information, please visit the political science website.


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 http://polisci.niu.edu.


About the Political Science Department

The department is located on the 4th floor of the Zulauf building.  If you are considering a political science major or minor, please feel free to visit and/or contact the following individuals for guidance:

Shannon Silver, Undergraduate Adviser: Zulauf 420, (815) 753-7045, slsilver@niu.edu

Matthew J. Streb, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Assistant Professor: Zulauf 407, (815) 753-7046, mstreb@niu.edu

Karen Schweitzer, Undergraduate Studies Secretary: Zulauf 415, (815) 753-1015, karens@niu.edu


Course Calendar


Week 1

January 14: Introduction

January 16: Theory in comparative politics; Read Chapter 1

January 18: Great Britain- The Impact of the Past; Read Chapter 2


Week 2

January 21: *No class*- Martin Luther King Day

January 23: Great Britain- The Key Institutions; Read Chapter 3

January 25: Great Britain- Political Culture; Read Chapter 4


Week 3

January 28: Great Britain- Patterns of Interaction; Read Chapter 5

How to write a paper; What is plagiarism?

January 30: Great Britain- Quarrels; Read Chapter 6

February 1: France- The Impact of the Past; Read Chapter 7


Week 4

February 4: France- The Key Institutions; Read Chapter 8

February 6: France- Political Culture; Read Chapter 9

February 8: France- Patterns of Interaction; Read Chapter 10


Week 5

February 11: France- Quarrels; Read Chapter 11

February 13: Germany- The Impact of the Past; Read Chapter 12; and *Reading is on E-reserve* Mein Kampf, pages 84-91 and 184-186

February 15: Germany- The Key Institutions; Read Chapter 13

**Paper #1 due** (over Great Britain and France)


Week 6

February 18: Germany- Political Culture; Read Chapter 14

February 20: Germany- Patterns of Interaction; Read Chapter 15

February 22: Germany- Quarrels; Read Chapter 16


Week 7

February 25: Review for Exam #1

February 27: **Take Exam #1** (over Great Britain, France, and Germany)

February 29: Review Exam #1


Week 8

March 3: Russia- The Impact of the Past; Read Chapter 18

March 5: Russia- The Key Institutions; Read Chapter 19

March 7: *No Class* Spring Break

(Last day to drop the class)


Week 9

March 10: *No Class* Spring Break

March 12: *No Class* Spring Break

March 14: *No Class* Spring Break


Week 10

March 17: Video: Russian Ark

March 19: Video: Russian Ark; *Readings are on E-reserve* The Gulag Archipelago, pages 40-55; and Lenin’s Tomb, pages 493-530

March 21: Russia- Political Culture; Read Chapter 20


Week 11

March 24: Russia- Patterns of Interaction; Read Chapter 21

March 26: Russia- Quarrels; Read Chapter 22

March 28: China- The Impact of the Past; Read Chapter 28


Week 12

March 31: China- The Key Institutions; Read Chapter 29

**Paper #2 due** (over Russia)

April 2: China- Political Culture; Read Chapter 30

April 4: China- Patterns of Interaction; Read Chapter 31


Week 13

April 7: China- Quarrels; Read Chapter 32

April 9: Review for Exam #2

April 11: **Take Exam #2** (over Russia and China)


Week 14

April 14: Review Exam #2

April 16: Mexico; Read pages 483-500

April 18: Mexico; Read pages 501-512


Week 15

April 21: Nigeria; Read pages 515-531

April 23: Nigeria; Read pages 532-540

April 25: India; *Reading is on E-reserve* Read pages 251-273


Week 16

April 28: India *Reading is on E-reserve* Read pages 274-299

April 30: Course Evaluations; Review for Final Exam (over Mexico, Nigeria, and India)


Week 17

May 7: **Final Exam**  8AM-9:50 AM, in DU 459