This is a broadly focused paper aiming to give students an understanding of the key actors and dynamics that make up the contemporary politics of states around the world. The paper pursues this goal from a comparative perspective, meaning that it selects examples from across the world in order to determine how universal certain domestic political phenomena are, what common causes they may share, and how different trajectories of political development are possible and why they occur. The paper also aims to give students a basic grasp of the comparative method, of its role in political science research, and of the usefulness of comparison in understanding our political environment. The paper aims to provide students with the conceptual tools needed to think about politics from a comparative perspective. It also aims to provide enough empirical knowledge for them to appreciate the diversity of political life and to match generalized insights about the nature of political behaviour with sophisticated empirical examples that illustrate variation and complexity.
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This material is intended for current students but will be interesting to prospective students. It is indicative only.