Comparative European Politics

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
19 December 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA L24012 Global and Comparative Politics,
MA L240EB Global and Comparative Politics,
MA L240EK Global and Comparative Politics,
MSC L24012 Global and Comparative Politics,
MSC L240EB Global and Comparative Politics,
MSC L240EK Global and Comparative Politics

Module description

The first part of the module will be devoted to studying the roots of party systems, party competition, electoral systems, the rise of populist and extremist parties, corruption, and linkages between citizens and politicians in West and East European countries. In the second part, we will study the institutional foundations of welfare-capitalism and examine how coordinated and liberal capitalism types responded to challenges such as globalisation and deindustrialization.

A large part of the module is devoted to studying the power-sharing arrangements in the European Union. In this context, we will analyse what the euro crisis, influx of refugees, and disintegration dynamics implies for the future of the EU. The module also provides an accessible introduction to research design and methods that political scientists have used to address these topics.

Module aims

The aim of this module is to provide a better understanding of democratic political and economic processes in Europe.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have a sound knowledge of contemporary European politics. Specifically, students will become familiar with the political and economic institutions as well as with party politics and economic policymaking in Europe. The module familiarizes students with the advantages and limitations of comparative research. Students are encouraged to critically assess the validity of conflicting theoretical claims and arguments on the basis of appropriate empirical evidence.

Module information

The module will cover the following topics:

Week 2: Methods and Concepts of Comparative Research
Week 3: Social Cleavages and Party Systems
Week 4: Dynamics of Party Competition
Week 5: Populist Parties and Linkages between Voters and Citizens
Week 6: Economic Crises and the Rise of Radical Right Parties
Week 7: Electoral Systems
Week 8: Unitary States, Federal States, Devolution, and Bicameralism
Week 9: Democracy and Social Capital
Week 10: Democratic Backsliding
Week 11: Executive-Legislative Relations
Week 16: Direct Democracy and Referendums
Week 17: Interest Groups
Week 18: Varieties of Capitalism and Skill Regimes
Week 19: The Welfare State and Welfare State Retrenchment
Week 20: Theorizing the European Union
Week 21: The Eurozone and Influx of Refugees
Week 22: Disintegration Dynamics in the EU
Week 23: The EU and Foreign Policy
Week 24: Patronage and Corruption
Week 25: Central Banks

Study on this module entails:

1. Thinking, discussing, and writing clearly and logically.
2. Linking together, and understanding the linkages between, empirical facts and abstract concepts.
3. Retrieving, synthesising, and critically evaluating information from diverse sources, using the Library and the Internet.

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching on the module will be in the form of weekly seminars (two hours). The seminar structure allows a flexible approach towards the topics provided by the module outline. The seminar will often start with a brief introductory lecture by the supervisor, leading to other seminar methods where the students are more actively involved (student presentations, group discussion, recap quiz).


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1     45% 
Coursework   Essay 2     45% 
Practical   In Class Presentation    10% 
Exam  Main exam: 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Alexandra Hennessy, email: alexandra.hennessy@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Alexandra Hennessy
Module Supervisor: Dr Alexandra Hennessy alexandra.hennessy@essex.ac.uk or Module Administrator Jamie Seakens (govpgquery@essex.ac.uk)



External examiner

Dr Nicholas Walter Vivyan
University of Durham
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 40 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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