Comparative European Politics I

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
06 June 2023


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

This course is about how representative democracy works in Europe. We will examine several topics within the European context, including: public opinion, political participation, political parties, electoral systems, party competition, and how to evaluate democracies. We will also develop specific knowledge about several European countries, by learning how the political institutions (several are mentioned above) function within them. The course also provides an accessible introduction to research design and methods that political scientists have used to address these topics.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with a sound knowledge of contemporary European politics and to understand the advantages and limitations of comparative research.

  • To enable students to become familiar with important academic debates in political party behaviour, the rise of extremism, democratic backsliding, and accountability mechanisms.

  • To encourage students to critically assess the validity of conflicting theoretical claims and arguments on the basis of appropriate empirical evidence. 

  • To help students hone their analytical and writing skills. By composing short response papers, a grant application, an essay, and peer review comments, students will learn how to tailor their writing to different audiences.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a sound understanding of the linkages between empirical facts and abstract concepts in the area of contemporary European politics

  2. Demonstrate the ability to retrieve, synthesise and critically evaluate information from diverse sources

  3. Demonstrate the ability to write effectively for different audiences

  4. Revise written work based on (sometimes conflicting) feedback

Module information

The module will cover the following topics:

  • Week 2: The Democratic Process

  • Week 3: Public Opinion

  • Week 4: Conventional Political Participation (Voter Turnout)

  • Week 5: Unconventional Political Participation (Protest)

  • Week 6: Electoral Systems and Their Consequences

  • Week 7: Elections and the Spatial Model of Voting

  • Week 8: Concepts, Variables, Theory and the Comparative Method

  • Week 9: Political Cleavages, Party Families, and Political Entrepreneurs

  • Weeks 10-11: Types of Democracies (Majoritarian and Consensual) and Evaluating Democracy

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

  • 2 hours, in person (on campus)


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay 1 & 2    100% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Alexandra Hennessy, email: alexandra.hennessy@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Alexandra Hennessy
Module Supervisor: Alexandra Hennessy, alexandra.hennessy@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Damien Bol
King's College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (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), module, or event type.


Further information

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