• Offered by Department of Political and Social Change
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Political Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Paul Kenny
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

Why compare political institutions and practices? Often, people assume that political problems they encounter are comprehensible only to other people facing the same problems. Rarely is this the case. Most political phenomena replicate themselves from country to country, although distinctive local characteristics may obscure their commonalities.  By comparing complex phenomena systematically, we can improve our understanding of political dynamics, and better appreciate why political concepts matter. In this introductory course on comparative politics, we will unpack a set of conceptual tools with which to do that. We begin with some terminology and typologies relevant to four elementary categories of inquiry: state formation, regime type, identity politics, and political economy. Then, guided by expert lecturers from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, we try out these categories on six important countries: Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea. In each case, we sharpen our analysis through careful attention to specific features, while keeping sight of larger questions about the state-society nexus; democratic versus authoritarian forms of government; gender relations; and the politics of ethnic, religious, regional and sexual minorities, and majority-minority cleavages. At the end of the course, we will have a set of concepts that we can take away and use for rudimentary analysis of politics in any country around the world, and some practice in using them. Simultaneously, we will have deepened our knowledge of what is going on in the Asia-Pacific in the Asian century, and why it matters to think about the region comparatively.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students should be able to:

1. Possess a broad picture of contemporary political dynamics in six major Asian and Pacific nations.

2. Possess knowledge of conceptual foundations for analysing core issues of comparative politics. This will include understanding definitions of key concepts including state, regime, nation, and democracy and analysing different patterns of state-society relations, varieties of authoritarianism, the nature of ethnic cleavages and relationships between states and markets.

3. Apply these concepts in analysing political phenomena within and betweeen states.

4. Understand the foundations and implications of comparative method in political science research.

5. Express themselves clearly in verbal and written formats.

Indicative Assessment

Class activities (10%)
Group project and presentation (10%)
Opinion-editorial - 800 words (15%)
Essay plan - 500 words (10%)
Research essay - 2,500 words (35%)
Oral exam (20%)

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3 contact hours and 6 hours private study per week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of university courses.

Prescribed Texts

All reading materials will be made available online prior to commencement of the course.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3054
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4368
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8643 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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