Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course’s main aim is to allow students to acquire a basic knowledge of political institutions, political phenomena and mechanisms that shape modern democracies.
Knowledge and Understanding
The course provides students with an overview of contemporary political phenomena through the lenses of Political Science. It also offers some conceptual tools that are needed to critically understand the political debate. At the end of the course, students will acquire a basic knowledge of contemporary political systems and the ability to analyze their main features. They will also be able to understand current political events and dynamics.
Applying knowledge and understanding
The course will take in consideration major topics in Political Science. For each of them, at least one example of its possibile application to the real world will be provided. At the end of the course, students should be able to interpret current politics with the lenses of Political Science and to critically understand the Italian political debate, also with reference to other Western democracies.
The course will provide students with an analytical knowledge of current political systems. At the end of the course, it is expected that they will be able to critically understand the complexity of modern democracy, the intrinsic ambivalence of political phenomena and the main trade-offs that underlie political decisions. They should also be able to present their own point of view on the current political debate in a proper manner, also taking in consideration other existing analytical perspectives.
As for other social sciences, Political Science is characterized by its own jargon and its own way to present concepts and theoretical paradigms. At the end of the course, students should be able to clearly express and debate Political Science issues, also with the reference to the main theoretical debates and to the functioning of other contemporary democracies.
Course contents summary
The course will provide students with a basic knowledge of existing political systems, with a specific focus on how democratic institutions work and through examples taken from the Italian political debate. After a short introduction on the meaning and the evolution of modern state, the course will take in consideration different theoretical paradigms on democracy, democratization and non-democracies (authoritarianism, totalitarianism and other types of autocratic regimes). After that, the course will focus specifically on the dynamics and the phenomena that shape contemporary democracy: political cultures, participation and interests, political parties and party systems, elections and electoral systems, parliaments, executives, the welfare state, bureaucracy and public policy. A workshop session is also scheduled. The course will end with a short review of EU institutions and the challenges of globalization to the Nation-State.
Caramani D. (ed. by), Comparative Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013
Frontal lectures during which students will be involved in the discussion of main issues that shape the Italian political debate. Periodically, workshops and other activities will be scheduled to enhance students’ understanding of political dynamics and their ability to apply knowledge to the current European political debate.
Assessment methods and criteria
The final exam will be written. An oral exam (optional) may be scheduled to discuss any possible problem concerning the written test.
The written exam will be divided in two sections:
a) a first section with 10 closed-ended questions (multiple choice)
b) a second section with 3 open-ended questions to verify students’ ability to use Political Science’s jargon and to discuss political concepts.
Students’ knowledge and understanding of Political Science concepts, approaches and paradigms will be assessed through the first, multiple choice section (1 point for each question).
Their ability to apply their knowledge and understanding, and to make judgements will be verified through the the three open questions (6 points max for each question).
The ability to communicate will Political Science jargon will be assessed through the open questions (2 additional points)