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Introduction to political science PS1172

The course is taught as 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 between countries.

The course introduces students to some of the basic theoretical ideas and research methods in modern political science, and how these ideas explain patterns of political behaviour, political institutions and policy outcomes.

Prerequisites/ Exclusions

This course may not be taken with:

  • PS1114 Democratic politics and the state.

Topics covered

Basics:

  • Why are some countries democratic?
  • Political Science Explanations and Methods

Behaviour:

  • Political Preferences and Voting Behaviour
  • Political Parties and Electoral Systems

Institutions:

  • Presidents and Parliaments, Coalitions and Single-Party Governments
  • Federalism and Independent Institutions

Outcomes:

  • Economic Performance and Public Spending
  • Environmental Protection and Migration

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • explain patterns of voting behaviour and party competition in different countries, and how electoral systems influence voters and parties
  • explain how different institutional designs of democracy work
  • describe how political science explains policy outcomes
  • critically evaluate rational choice and institutional theories in political science
  • explain the pros and cons of quantitative and qualitative methods in political science.

Assessment

Unseen written examination (3 hrs).

Essential reading

  • Clark, W.R., M. Golder and S.N. Golder (2009). Principles of Comparative Politics, Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Course information sheets

Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.