GV101GC      Half Unit
Introduction to Political Science (Spring Semester)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Simon Hix and Dr Ryan Jablonski


This course is available to General Course ‘Spring Semester’ students.

Course content

The course is an introduction to politics in a globalised world, with a focus on how political science tries to understand and explain cross-country and cross-time differences. The course will begin by introducing students to some of the main empirical variations political institutions, before turning the attention to how institutional variation affect policy outcomes across the world, focusing mainly on democratic and partially democratic countries (in both the developed and developing world), and introducing students to some of the basic theoretical ideas and research methods in political science. Each subsequent week will be devoted to a substantive topic, where a more detailed analysis of political institutions or political outcomes will be presented and various theoretical explanations will be assessed. Most weeks will involve an interactive element. General Course students should review introductory lectures and readings from the MT of the year-long version of the course, as background context for the topics to be covered in LT.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 26 hours across Lent Term and Summer Term. Some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and classes. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of LT.

Formative coursework

Student will be expected to produce 1 blog post on a selected topic and country in collaboration with a study group of 4-5 of their peers.

Indicative reading

W Clark, M Golder and S Nadenichek Golder, Foundations of Comparative Politics, Sage, 2019. 

A Lijphart, Patterns of Government: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, 2nd edn, Yale University Press, 2012.

G. Tsebelis, Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work, Princeton University Press, 2002.


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Please note that the exam will be specifically designed for Spring Semester General Course Students.


The Class Summary Grade for General Course Spring Semester students will be calculated as follows: 75% class participation (including attendance and contribution), and 25% blog post.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills