17.50 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Comparative Politics

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 17.50 Introduction to Comparative Politics as it was taught by Professor Chappell Lawson in Spring 2014.

This course taught students about politics around the world, focusing on democracy, the political roots of economic development, and how America’s political system compares to that of other countries.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • An understanding of the political context in which they live and in other countries
  • Basic frameworks to make sense of politics
  • Analytical writing and presentation skills

Curriculum Information


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Requirements Satisfied


Every spring semester


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 35% Formal presentations and debates
  • 35% Papers
  • 15% Final exam
  • 5% Map test (in recitation)
  • 10% Class participation, with some attempt to take into account which individuals contributed more to their groups in collective assignments

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


  • Met twice a week for 2 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • The first third of the semester included more in the way of presentations by the instructor to make sure everyone is on the same page. The other weeks involved breakout groups and student presentations.
  • This subject was designed so that there was extensive class discussion. Students were expected to participate actively and intelligently throughout the semester.


Met twice a week for 1 hour per session; 12 sessions total.

Out of Class

  • Readings in preparation for class sessions
  • Preparation for breakout groups, class debates, and “Arab Spring” presentations
  • Six class papers (two were rewritten)

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
grading Exams
assignment Activity Assignments
assignment Presentation Assignments
assignment Written Assignments
co_present Instructor Insights