Politics and Institutions in Europe

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Vesselin Dimitrov CON 3.06

Prof Simon Hix, Prof Michael Bruter, Dr Eiko Thielemann, Dr Julian Hoerner


This course is available on the BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics, BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students must have completed Introduction to Political Science (GV101).

Course content

The course aims to give students an understanding of the full range of leading topics and areas of debate and research relevant to the analysis of political institutions and politics in Europe. The course focuses on both traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as the study of party competition and voting behaviour, and emerging fields of interest, such as national and European identities, immigration and Europeanisation. The course places particular emphasis on the diverse experiences of liberal democracy in different parts of Europe. The course covers not only long-established democracies in Western Europe, but also the relatively new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. In the Lent Term, the course will study in depth a number of European countries, such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy, analysing the main developments in the country concerned in the last twenty years (elections, parties, governments), and then examining issues of particular interest related to that country. Course topics include: electoral behaviour; parties and party systems; government formation and coalitions; regionalism and federalism; national and European identities; immigration; and the challenge of Europeanisation.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

There will be reading weeks in Week 6 of the MT and Week 6 of the LT for private study and essay and assessment preparation.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays in the MT and 2 essays in the LT.

Indicative reading

M Gallagher et al, Representative Government in Modern Europe (5th edn) (2011); P Heywood et al (Eds), Developments in European Politics (2006); T Bale, European Politics: A Comparative Introduction (2nd edn) (2008); S Hix, The Political System of the European Union (2nd edn) (2005); I Budge et al, The Politics of the New Europe: Atlantic to Urals (1997); V Dimitrov, K H Goetz & H Wollmann, Governing after Communism: Institutions and Policymaking (2006); J Elster et al, Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies (1998); J Hayward & E Page (Eds), Governing the New Europe (1994); J-E Lane & S O Ersson, Politics and Society in Western Europe (1999).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.



The Class Summary Grade for General Course students will be calculated as follows:15% general contribution to class discussions, 15% presentation(s) and, if applicable, essay outline(s), 60% grading of formative coursework (15% for each of the 4 essays), 10% attendance.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 34.1
2:1 59
2:2 4.6
Third 0.6
Fail 1.7

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2017/18: 104

Average class size 2017/18: 15

Capped 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills