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 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

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 to analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different political systems and their consequences
- Cultivate skills to effectively interpret and evaluate empirical information (including basic numerical data) about political institutions, processes and systems in a comparative fashion
- Enhance written communication skills to impart complex information, ideas and arguments, clearly and effectively
- Enhance skills needed to effectively plan, structure and take personal responsibility for individual 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 work; and evaluate their consequences: 1,2
Compare the political institutions of different countries, analyse their differences, and critically evaluate their consequences: 1,2
Interpret and evaluate basic numerical data presented in forms consistent with the discipline of Comparative Politics: 2
Communicate knowledge, ideas and arguments clearly and effectively in written format: 1,2

Study hours

Active learning hours:
11 hours of lectures
9 hours of seminars
5 hours structured engagement with online resources (online quizzes)
Independent study hours
40 hours: reading and preparation for seminars
35 hours: preparation for short paper (reading / researching, note-taking; drafting and writing)
50 hours: preparation for data analysis report (reading / researching, note-taking; drafting and writing)

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Short Paper weighted 40%
800-word short paper
Students will produce an 800-word paper in which they will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of one feature of political systems in two different democracies. They will be able to choose which one feature to focus on, from a list of options (e.g. format of the executive, format of the legislature, format of the party system, type of electoral system, territorial division of power). Each student will produce their own individual piece of work.

2: Individual Report weighted 60%
1200-word data analysis report
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 to their democratic systems.