Political Science (POLI) 342

Introduction to Comparative Politics (Revision 4)

POLI 342 Course cover

View previous version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online with eTextbook)

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

Political Science home page

POLI 342 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


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 eight individual cases; seven 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 one or both 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, and Nigeria, are all Third World countries that are examined in this course and are also useful for comparison among themselves or with other countries. The European Union represents 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: The Industrialized Democracies
  • Unit 3: The United Kingdon
  • Unit 4: France
  • Unit 5: The European Union
  • Unit 6: Current and Former Communist Regimes
  • Unit 7: Russia
  • Unit 8: China
  • Unit 9: The Global South (Third World States)
  • Unit 10: India
  • Unit 11: Nigeria
  • Unit 12: Mexico
  • Unit 13: Conclusion: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges

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 components of system theory and explain its use in political science.
  2. 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).
  3. Distinguish between and analyze the politics of three types of political systems: industrialized democracies, former and current Communist regimes, and the Third World.
  4. Compare states according to their historical evolution, political culture and political participation, state institutions, form of government, and public policy.
  5. Describe, the important details of the political systems addressed in the course.
  6. Analyze the impact of globalization on the states covered in the course.
  7. Assess the level of democratization in the regimes studied 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:

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

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

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

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Hauss, Charles. 2015. Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges. 9th ed. Toronto: Cengage.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

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

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about 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 4, July 10, 2015.

View previous syllabus