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    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.

    About this paper

    Paper title Comparative Politics - Introduction
    Subject Politics
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    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

    Dr Leon Goldsmith

    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


    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, 15-22
    Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 16, 18-22


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