Political Science (POLI) 342

Introduction to Comparative Politics (Revision 3)

POLI 342 Course cover

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: POLI 342 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for POLI 340 or POLI 341.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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POLI 342 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Political Science 342 studies the political systems of a number of different countries, providing the opportunity to examine the features of individual political systems and to investigate the similarities and differences among political systems in two or more countries. Comparative politics attempts to analyze and explain its findings through comparative study. As such, the goal of comparative study is to develop “law-like” generalizations and thereby facilitate both explanation and prediction, thus warranting the status of a “science.”

Political Science 342 includes in-depth studies of nine individual cases; eight countries plus the European Union (EU), which affords us the opportunity to explain different and similar observations. For instance, studying Britain and France, two of the case studies in this course, can lead to fruitful comparisons of industrial democracies, or comparisons between on of these two countries and other political systems. Or, as a Communist country, China can be meaningfully compared with Russia, a former-Communist country or you may use these two countries to compare with aspects of other countries. India, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa are all Third World countries that are examined in this course and are also useful for comparison. The European Union represents the regional integration in the larger context of globalization. Together, these case studies generate a wealth of information that allows us to construct the key features for each of the individual cases, examine similarities and differences among various political systems, and appreciate the diversity of the political world. The case studies also permit interesting conclusions and allow for the generation of useful questions. Most importantly, though, the case studies examined allow you to begin to engage in comparative political analysis. Remember that the task of comparative analysis is not simply to describe what is going on in one, two, or more countries, but it is to dig for credible reasons for why these things are going on and offer clear evidence for the ideas you unearth.


  • Unit 1: Introduction
  • Unit 2: Industrialized Democracies
  • Unit 3: The Politics of Great Britain
  • Unit 4: The Politics of France
  • Unit 5: The Politics of the European Union
  • Unit 6: The Communist and Post-Communist World
  • Unit 7: The Politics of the Soviet Union and Russia
  • Unit 8: The Politics of China
  • Unit 9: Third World States
  • Unit 10: The Politics of Nigeria
  • Unit 11: The Politics of India
  • Unit 12: The Politics of South Africa
  • Unit 13: The Politics of Mexico
  • Unit 14: Conclusion

Course Objectives

When you have completed Political Science 342: Introduction to Comparative Politics, you should be able to achieve the following course objectives.

  1. Identify the key theoretical approaches and methods used in comparative politics. Apply these comparative approaches to one, two, or more countries (i.e., undertake comparative analysis).
  2. Distinguish between and analyze the politics of three typesf political systems: industrialized democracies, former and current Communist regimes, and the Third World.
  3. Discuss and compare states according to their historical evolution, political culture and political participation, state institutions and form of government, and public policy.
  4. Discuss, in detail, the politics of the states and political systems addressed in the course.
  5. Discuss the impact of globalization on the states covered in the course.


To receive credit for POLI 342, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the final exam and an overall course grade of at least 50%. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1: Essay Proposal Assignment 2: Midterm Assignment Assignment 3: Research Essay Final Exam Total
15% 20% 30% 35% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU approved exam invigilator or at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure a computer with an Internet connection and an accepted web browser is available for your use at the invigilation centre. For more information on AU's Online Exam Project please visit the Office of the Registrar site.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Hauss, Charles. 2011. Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges. 7th ed. Toronto: Thomson Wadsworth.

Other materials

The course materials include a print reading file. You will access all other course materials online.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the POLI 342 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, April 28, 2011.

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