GV467      Half Unit
Introduction to Comparative Politics

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Omar Mcdoom


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Comparative Politics. This course is available on the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students from the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective will be accepted onto the course if space permits.

Course content

This course serves as the 'core', compulsory course for the MSc in Comparative Politics and is intended to provide an overarching theoretical and methodological backdrop for all of the diverse course offerings available to students on this programme. The course introduces students to the field of Comparative Politics as represented in contemporary journals like World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and Comparative Studies in Society and History, and among the various members of Faculty with Comparative Politics interests in the Government Department here at the LSE. Students examine the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of Comparative Politics, important critiques of these underpinnings, and diverse examples of 'best practice' in research and writing in this sub-field of the discipline of Political Science.

Lectures and seminar discussions focus both on important areas of research in comparative politics and methodological challenges involved. Readings treat such variegated topics of inquiry and debate in comparative politics as democracy, ethnic conflict, civil society, and revolutions. 

The course does not follow a 'great books' approach nor does it rely on a textbook. Instead, the course treats examples of real existing Comparative Politics as practiced - and published - by leading scholars in the field in recent years. These examples are chosen to cover diverse forms of comparison, diverse modes of analysis, diverse topic areas, and diverse countries and regions of the world.

Cutting across these forms of diversity are a set of questions that will be addressed throughout the course concerning the possibilities and limitations of various methods of comparative analysis for explaining observable patterns in politics.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 30 hours in the Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. Week 11 will focus on revision. This course also includes a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

One unassessed essay of roughly 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions. Hall, Peter A. ‘Adapting Methodology to Ontology in Comparative Politics’. Doner, Richard F., Bryan K. Ritchie, and Dan Slater ‘Systemic Vulnerability and the Origins of Developmental States: Northeast and Southeast Asia in Comparative Perspective’. David Collier and Henry Brady, Rethinking Social Inquiry.


Essay (100%) in the LT.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.1
Merit 68
Pass 14.9
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 54

Average class size 2020/21: 14

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication