Introduction to Political Science

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ryan Jablonski and Dr Melissa Sands


This course is compulsory on the BSc in History and Politics, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Data Science, 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 on the BA in Geography, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science, BSc in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Policy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course 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 in political behaviour, political institutions, and 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 behaviour, political institutions, or political outcomes will be presented and various theoretical explanations will be assessed. Most weeks will involve an interactive element.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 50 hours across Michaelmas Term, Lent Term and Summer Term. There will be reading week in Week 6 of both the MT and LT terms.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to undertake one problem set and a formative essay in the MT.

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 ed., Yale University Press, 2012.

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


Essay (50%, 2000 words) in the LT.
Online assessment (50%) in the ST.

Online assessment duration: 7 days in the ST.



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

The Exam Grade for General Course students will be 50% essay and 50% online exam.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 15.4
2:1 72
2:2 10.5
Third 0.3
Fail 1.8

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 253

Average class size 2021/22: 11

Capped 2021/22: No

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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