GV248GC      Half Unit
Power and Politics in the Modern World: Comparative Perspectives (Spring Semester)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Woodruff


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


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

Background in political science roughly equivalent to GV101.

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 corruption, the political impact of natural resources in developing countries, social movements and revolution, the political economy of distribution, and political ideologies. Spring semester topics will be drawn from this list. With respect to each theme, students will receive a grounding in theories of the topic and samples of application to empirical cases drawn from throughout the developed, developing, and post-Communist world.


At least 20 hours of lectures and classes across the LT and ST, expected to include a mix of online and in-person teaching.

Classes will run from weeks 1-5 and 7-11 in the LT. There will be a reading week in Week 6. Alternative forms of online engagement may replace some class sessions.

The Week 11 lecture in LT will be a revision lecture and there will be one revision class per group in Week 1 of ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Skocpol, Theda. States and Social Revolutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979

Brierley, Sarah. "Unprincipled Principals: Co-opted Bureaucrats and Corruption in Ghana." American Journal of Political Science 64, no. 2 (2020): 209-222. Doi:10.1111/ajps.12495

Hertog, Steffen. "Shaping the Saudi State: Human Agency's Shifting Role in Rentier-State Formation." International Journal of Middle East Studies 39, no. 4 (2007): doi:10.2307/30069487. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30069487.

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

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


Essay (25%) in the LT.
Online assessment (75%) in the ST.


The Class Summary Grade for General Course 'Spring Semester' students will be based on the average of a formative essay (50%) and attendance (50%). The Exam Grade will be based on the formative essay (25%) and an online final assessment (75%).

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
  • Team working
  • Communication