Comparative political analysis

You must demonstrate your understanding of the comparative method by proposing a comparative study linked to a topic covered in the course. NOTE: You must start with background work for the exercise early, as otherwise you will struggle with the deadline. For tutorial in week 10, you need to prepare a short coursework progress presentation. A discussion forum related to the exercise will be active on Moodle until the end of term I.

Suggest a mock comparative study on ONE of the following broad topics:

 

  1. Determinants of female OR minority representation;
  2. Explaining the breakthrough of new political parties;
  3. Explaining corruption;
  4. Determinants of policy change.
  5. Determinants of regime stability;
  6. Determinants of inter-ethnic conflict OR conflict resolution;
  7. Determinants of electoral system change;
  8. Explaining presidential power OR their actual use;
  9. Determinants of cabinet stability;
  10. Explaining electoral integrity/misconduct;
  11. Determinants of decentralisation/devolution;
  12. Explaining pressure group influence;
  13. Determinants of the strength of civil society;
  14. Determinants of coups OR determinants of their success;
  15. Determinants of civil conflict OR its resolution;
  16. Determinants of electoral stability.

In the project (2,000 words, incl. footnotes but excluding bibliography and appendixes):

 

  • Clarify and define the concepts, possibly narrowing them down. The topics usually identify a broad phenomenon– there are countless possibilities for actual variables.
  • Briefly review 3-4 published studies related to the topic. Use UCL Explore and Google Scholar for finding published research. See also WISE for Arts and Humanities, Laws, Social and Historical Sciences and SSEES.
  • Propose and justify very carefully considered cases for comparison, referring to the classic case selection principles. Usually, 2-5 cases is appropriate. You probably need to familiarise yourself with countries/cases that you knew little about before – use previous academic works, possibly combined with standard reference sources. Remember that your cases are not necessarily countries. NOTE: Justifying cases means explaining why your chosen cases are the best available, i.e. alternatives are less appropriate (can sometimes be done implicitly).

The general assessment criteria and penalties on late and overlong coursework can be found here: SSEES Undergraduate Assessment Criteria. An excellent paper would put forward a meaningful project with reasonable and correctly identified dependent and independent variables, and show evidence of some reading around the topic. It would also demonstrate the ability to use the classic principles of case selection to serve a specific research question. You are not expected to become an expert on your chosen topic – some inconsistencies and minor factual errors on the chosen cases are acceptable. NOTE: do not use examples used in in lectures of tutorials!

 

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