• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Policy Studies, Political Sciences, Political Economy, Politics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Patrick Dumont
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

This course examines the central issues in comparative political institutions across a range of jurisdictions and from a variety of perspectives. The course introduces core political institutions and discusses various approaches to their study. It deals with key concepts (majoritarian democracy vs consociationalism etc.) and institutional arrangements in a historical and comparative perspective. The point of the seminar preparations, discussions, presentations, data collection and analysis exercise is not to compare for the sake of comparing, but to equip you (as a researcher) with the conceptual tools to undertake insightful, critical, and original comparative work of your own in your final assessment. The overall aim of the course is to develop students' understanding and use of many general theoretical explanations surrounding debates in political institutions and to develop students' critical/analytical approach to many of the questions facing practitioners and scholars in the next decade.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify the concepts that influence the dynamics of political institutions;
  2. understand the sources of these concepts and their historical development;
  3. use these concepts in order to critically research, analyse, and evaluate major issues in political institutions; and
  4. develop skills for research, argument, and analysis in order to effectively communicate their own perspectives on key concepts and issues in political institutions.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Seminar Preparation: All students must prepare notes on required readings and submit by email prior to class in preparation for discussion. These may consist of comments, critiques, questions, etc. arising from the readings. They may be in bullet format or full sentences. They will be marked on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale. (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Research-based learning data collection and analysis report: Students will collect primary data or recode existing data and analyse a research question using appropriate method. Limit of 2000 words. (30) [LO 1,4]
  3. Research Essay: Students will write a research paper on a topic of their choice that relates to the material covered in the course. Limit of 6000 words. (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Seminar presentation: Each student do a 15-minute presentation and lead discussion of the required readings. (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 6 hours of teaching and tutorials over 6 weeks;

b) 18 hours of seminars over 6 weeks;

b) 106 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

‘this is a course amendment, this information is not required’

Preliminary Reading

Brady, Henry & Collier, David, eds. (2000). Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards. Berkeley, CA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Boix, Carles, and Stokes, Susan (eds.) (2007) Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford, OUP.

Caramani, Daniele (ed.) Comparative Politics, Oxford, OUP, 2014 (3rd edition).

Cheibub, Jose Antonio (2007), Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dahl, Robert A. (1971). Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dowding, K. and P. Dumont (eds.) (2009) The selection of Ministers in Europe. Hiring and Firing, London, Routledge.

Dowding, K. and P. Dumont (eds.) (2015) The selection of Ministers around the world, London, Routledge.

King, Gary, Keohane, Robert, & Verba, Sidney. (1994). Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Lijphart, A. (1994) .Electoral Systems and Party Systems. A Study of Twenty-Seven Democracies, 1945-1990, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Lijphart , A. (2012). Patterns of Democracy, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

North, Douglas. (1990). Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Powell, G. Bingham, Jr. (2001). Elections as Instruments of Democracy: Majoritarian and Proportional Visions. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Renwick, A. (2010). The Politics of Electoral Reform. Changing the Rules of Democracy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Sartori, G. (1994). Comparative Constitutional Engineering. An Inquiry into Structures, Incentives and Outcomes, London, MacMillan.

Strom, K, Muller W.C and T. Bergman, (eds) (2008). Cabinets and Coalition Bargaining: The Democratic Life Cycle in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tavits, M. (2009). Presidents with Prime Ministers, Oxford University Press.


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
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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
8454 27 Jul 2020 03 Aug 2020 31 Aug 2020 30 Oct 2020 In Person View

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