PIR-10055 - Modern Democracies
Coordinator: Liz Carter Room: CBA2.009 Tel: +44 1782 7 34248
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2022/23


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2022/23

This module introduces students to the comparative study of politics and offers them the opportunity to examine how the political systems of various countries function.
The module begins by considering how we might study politics and evaluate democracies in a comparative fashion. That is, it explores how democracies are similar in many respects but how they also differ on a number of dimensions, and it investigates how we might best study these similarities and differences. Then, the module turns its attention to the political institutions and processes present in a number of democracies, including the UK, the USA, Germany, and France. It examines the structures of political power, the characteristics of governments, and the ways in which citizens are represented in these different systems. The module concludes with an assessment of the extent to which and the ways in which political institutions influence the effectiveness of government and the quality of democracy.
The module is organised into 11 lectures (one per week, each lasting 1 hour) and 9 tutorials (one per week, each lasting 1 hour).

This module aims to:
- Provide a Level 4 introduction to the terminology, concepts and principles of Comparative Politics upon which students will build in later Politics modules at Keele
- Increase students knowledge of political institutions, processes and systems, and enhance their understanding of how these function
- Cultivate skills needed to effectively interpret and evaluate empirical information about political institutions, processes and systems in a comparative fashion
- Cultivate skills needed to develop arguments, make judgements and evaluate different approaches to comparison and to Comparative Politics which students will build in later Politics modules at Keele
- Enhance oral and written skills needed to clearly and effectively communicate complex information, ideas and arguments, both in a group setting and in individual work
- Enhance skills needed to effectively plan, structure and take personal responsibility for individual and group learning

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Describe and appraise a range of different concepts central to the study of Comparative Politics and to political structures and processes present in all democracies: 1,2
Describe the characteristics of specific political institutions, analyse how they have changed over time, and evaluate their consequences: 1,2
Work as a team to effectively present recently generated ideas and material: 1
Communicate knowledge, ideas and arguments through an oral presentation, supported by a visual aid: 1
Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various ways of comparing democratic political institutions and processes: 1,2
Interpret and evaluate basic numerical data presented in forms consistent with the discipline of Comparative Politics: 2

Study hours

11 hours: scheduled teaching hours (lectures)
9 hours: scheduled teaching hours (tutorials)
40 hours: reading and preparation for tutorials
35 hours: preparation for oral presentation
55 hours: preparation for and writing of data analysis report

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Group Presentation weighted 40%
Oral presentation in small groups (normally 3-4 students) on a tutor-allocated topic.
Students will form small groups (normally 3-4 students) and prepare and deliver an oral presentation to the rest of the tutorial group. Presentations will be about 20-25 minutes long. Each group will be asked to design and produce a visual aid to accompany their presentation. Following the presentation, the students in the presenting group will then lead a 20 minute discussion on the main points of their presentation, assisted by the tutor. Each group will present once during the module. The topics for the presentations will be assigned by the tutor at the start of the module, and will be listed and explained in the module guide. The tutor will also provide guidance to the group on how they might lead the discussion following their presentations. The presentations are designed to enable students to demonstrate comprehension and critical skills, and to develop group working skills and communication skills.

2: Individual Report weighted 60%
Data Analysis
Students will be presented with a chart on which a number of countries have been placed according to their democratic attributes. They will also be directed to the data (contained in the appendix of the module textbook) on which this chart is built. They will work individually to produce a 1200-word report outlining and explaining how and why (with reference to the data) two chosen countries differ with regard their democratic systems.