17.588 | Fall 2013 | Graduate

Field Seminar in Comparative Politics


Course Meeting Times

Seminar: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


Permission of the instructor.

Course Overview

This course is a graduate-level seminar in comparative politics. It aims to provide you with the conceptual and analytical tools necessary to conduct research in that subfield and to acquaint you with key works in the field.

The readings focus on foundational material, including both “classics” and recent work (though in general only where enough time has elapsed following the publication of a piece to assess its “staying power”). Given the volume of material in the field, treatment of some topics is inevitably cursory and incomplete. A number of topics are left out entirely: ethnic politics, civil-military relations, political communication, coalition formation in legislatures, interest group representation, autocratic regimes, and the politics of economic reform (to name just a few). For each week, a list of recommended readings provides a short bibliography for those of you who wish to do further reading on your own in preparation for comprehensive examinations or who are considering research on the topic.

Course Requirements

  • Weekly required readings of (on average) 175 pages per week. You are expected to do all of the required readings for the week—and none of the recommended readings in advance of class. It shouldn’t take you more than 10 hours to read the required material, abstract it, and prepare for class discussion.

  • Class attendance and participation. Some classes will begin with a brief lecture designed to summarize works not covered in the syllabus. We will then attempt to go through the discussion questions listed (though not necessarily in the order listed). Because this is a seminar, class participation is important, and attendance is a requisite for participation. Things come up, of course, so everyone gets one bye over the semester. Beyond that, you need to be at every class, on time, and prepared to jump into the discussion.

    I would also like each person to take a role in leading the discussion for one session over the course of the semester.

  • Six “response papers” over the course of the semester. For more detail, please see the Assignments section.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2013
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights