Power and Politics in the Modern World: Comparative Perspectives

This information is for the 2014/15 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Woodruff CON.317

Other members of Government Department staff will also teach on the course.


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available with permission 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).

Other background in political science will be considered as a substitute for GV101 for students outside of Government.

Course content

This course will acquaint students with the contemporary study of comparative politics, focusing on theories susceptible to testing with narrative historical evidence. Students will learn to address the methodological challenges of developing and testing such theories. The course will treat a wide variety of themes, including ethnic and political violence, natural resources and economic development, social movements and revolution, imperial and post-imperial power, the political economy of distribution, and political ideologies. With respect to each theme, students will receive a grounding in theories of the topic and then engage with at least two case-studies in depth.  Case studies will be drawn from throughout the developed, developing, and post-Communist world.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of lectures and 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 4 essays in the MT and LT.

Indicative reading

Horowitz, Donald L. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985

Weyland, Kurt. "The Rise of Latin America's Two Lefts: Insights From Rentier State Theory." Comparative Politics 41, no. 2 (2009): 145-164. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40599207

Lachapelle, Jean, Lucan A Way, and Steven Levitsky. "Crisis, Coercion, and Authoritarian Durability: Explaining Diverging Responses to Anti-Regime Protest in Egypt and Iran." Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 31 August 2012 (1905). http://ssrn.com/paper=2142721

McAdam, Doug, Sidney G Tarrow, and Charles Tilly. Dynamics of Contention. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Mann, Michael. The Sources of Social Power Volume 4: Globalizations, 1945-2011. Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013

Hacker, Jacob S, and Paul Pierson. "Winner-Take-All Politics: Public Policy, Political Organization, and the Precipitous Rise of Top Incomes in the United States." Politics & Society 38, no. 2 (2010): doi:10.1177/0032329210365042

Orloff, Ann Shola. "Gender and the Social Rights of Citizenship: The Comparative Analysis of Gender Relations and Welfare States." American Sociological Review 58, no. 3 (1993): doi:10.2307/2095903


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 5 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2013/14: Unavailable

Average class size 2013/14: Unavailable

Capped 2013/14: No

Lecture capture used 2013/14: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication