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POLS105 Comparative Politics - Introduction

How political institutions and processes work across a range of countries. Introduces the comparative method and considers ways of conceptualising political systems and understanding the functions of their key institutions.

Providing a foundation for understanding how politics operates in different countries, this paper constitutes a key introduction to Comparative Politics. The first part of the paper provides context through introducing the state and nation, forms of government, and theoretical approaches and methods in Comparative Politics.

The second part examines the institutional framework in which politics happens and the relationship between the different branches of government. The third part examines the ways in which people participate in politics, how politics is communicated through the media, political parties and interest groups, voting and elections, and how policies are made.

This paper is 100% internally assessed.

Paper title Comparative Politics - Introduction
Paper code POLS105
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Schedule C
Arts and Music

The study of Politics at 100-level does not require any specific previous study. An interest in politics in New Zealand and around the world is an advantage.

Teaching staff

Associate Professor James Headley

Paper Structure

The paper covers three main themes:

  • Studying politics
  • Institutional framework
  • Participation and policymaking
Teaching Arrangements

Two lectures and one tutorial each week. The lectures give an introduction to the main themes and issues of the paper. The tutorials are for student-centred discussion, debate and group work.


Highly recommended:

John McCormick, Rod Hague, and Martin Harrop, Comparative Government and Politics, 12th edition, Bloomsbury, 2022.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will develop

  • Knowledge of the political systems of a range of countries
  • The ability to use a range of analytical tools to interpret politics
  • Awareness of the various theories of comparative politics and ability to evaluate them critically
  • Deeper understanding of contemporary political affairs

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 16, 18-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 16, 18-21


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A3 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 11-13, 16, 18-21
Thursday 10:00-10:50 17
A4 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 11-13, 16, 18-21
Thursday 10:00-10:50 17
A5 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 11-13, 16, 18-21
Thursday 10:00-10:50 17
A7 Wednesday 10:00-10:50 11-13, 16-21
A8 Wednesday 11:00-11:50 11-13, 16-21