Politics and Institutions in Europe

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Vesselin Dimitrov

Prof Michael Bruter and Dr Eiko Thielemann 


This course is available on the BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics, BSc in History and Politics, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy, BSc in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available 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).

Course content

The course aims to give students an understanding of the full range of leading topics and areas of debate and research relevant to the analysis of political institutions and politics in Europe. The course focuses on both traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as the study of party competition and voting behaviour, and emerging fields of interest, such as national and European identities, and immigration. The course places particular emphasis on the diverse experiences of liberal democracy in different parts of Europe. The course covers not only long-established democracies in Western Europe, but also the relatively new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. In the Lent Term, the course will study in depth a number of European countries, such as Britain, France and Germany, analysing the main developments in the country concerned in the last twenty years (elections, parties, governments), and then examining issues of particular interest related to that country. Course topics include: electoral behaviour; ideology and issues; political parties and party competition; government formation and coalitions; regionalism and federalism; national and European identities; and immigration.


This course provides a combination of lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 50 and a half hours across the Michaelmas, Lent and Summer Terms.

There will be reading weeks in Week 6 of the MT and Week 6 of the LT for private study and essay and assessment preparation.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays in the MT and 2 essays in the LT.

Indicative reading

T Bale, European Politics: A Comparative Introduction (4th edn) (2017); M Gallagher et al, Representative Government in Modern Europe (5th edn) (2011); P Heywood et al (Eds), Developments in European Politics (2006); S Hix and B Hoyland, The Political System of the European Union (3rd edn) (2011); V Dimitrov, K H Goetz & H Wollmann, Governing after Communism: Institutions and Policymaking (2006); A Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy (2nd edn) (2012).


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Online (take home) exam (100%), in the summer exam period.  Estimated amount of effort required: 3 hours in a one-week period.



The Class Summary Grade for General Course students will be calculated as follows:15% general contribution to class discussions, 15% presentation(s) and, if applicable, essay outline(s), 60% grading of formative coursework (15% for each of the 4 essays), 10% attendance.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 31.1
2:1 64.9
2:2 4.1
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 55

Average class size 2021/22: 8

Capped 2021/22: No

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (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

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills