Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3166: Comparing Western Democracies: Parties, Elites, Institutions

This module descriptor refers to the 2013/4 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Daniel Keith (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module will introduce you to a major subfield of comparative politics – with a focus on the comparative study of Western democracies. You will study basic theoretical perspectives on democracy and discuss their methodological advantages and disadvantages as well as their implications for practical democracy research. You will discuss core challenges Western democracies face (e.g. the rise of radical right-wing parties). The role of core actors shaping the processes in long-lived Western democracies are discussed theoretically (e.g. different types of parties, leaders and non-elected institutions) and then analyzed empirically in a set of Western democracies. Thereby the usefulness and limitations of concepts, classifications and their measurements applied are exemplified. While you gain substantial knowledge about a range of democracies and their internal dynamics, you will become aware of the methodological and practical challenges related to the comparative study of democracy.

Module created

November 2010

Last revised