Course rationale

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American University in Cairo Prof.Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid

Department of Political Science Spring 2015.

Introduction to Comparative Politics Course outline Pols.3401
Course rationale:

We would understand ourselves better if we knew the others. We would be capable of comprehending our political conditions in the Arab world if we knew political conditions under which other people live, whether those who share our economic and social situation and our culture, or those who live under entirely different conditions and cultures. But do not forget that we share with all people our being all human beings.

Let us then start this intellectual journey of exploring elements of the political framework of human activity of all the people.
Specific objectives:

This course strives to attain some objectives, which should constitute outcomes of all its activities:

-1-Mastering the principal concepts and theories of comparative politics,

2-learning the methodology of comparative politics: how to find out differences and similarities and find out how they came about,

3-accessing sources of knowledge about comparative politics,

4-applying concepts and theories of comparative politics in comparative studies of political systems and institutions.

5-situating Egypt’s political system and institutions within a broader perspective.

Basic readings :

Newton, Kenneth and Jan W. Van Deth. Foundations of Comparative Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.7th printing.2014.

Lim. Timothy C. Doing Comparative Politics. An Introduction to Approaches & Issues. Boulder & London :Lynne Rienner Publishers.2nd edition.2010

Important Guidelines:

1-You should go through class readings before coming to class. You will have a reading assignment every week which has to be submitted as a reflection paper, of 1000 words. Unless you submit 70% of these reflection papers ,you will not get a passing grade in this course.

2-All your assignments must be documented, with footnotes or endnotes according to academic rules. Term paper not documented will not be accepted.
3-Plaigiarism is severely penalized. A paper not recognizing its sources and inadequately documented will get zero.
4- A student who misses six sessions or three weeks of class meetings could end up with a reduced grade including the grade F solely his absence from class.
5- Your term paper should use no less than 10 sources and be composed of no less than 3500 words.

6- All class presentations, readings not from textbooks and course instructions are posted on Blackboard which you should consult on the eve of class meetings.

Syllabus of the course:

It revolves around four basic concepts: methodology, state, society, and citizen.

I-How to do comparisons in comparative politics,
II- State

The state, ancient and modern

Types of states , international and supranational entities

Legal framework of politics

Government and types of governmental systems:
Presidential, parliamentary and authoritarian

Government authorities, executive, legislative and judiciary

The bureaucracy

Civil and political society

Civil society, social movements ,mass media and interest groups

Political society:

Party systems and political parties


How citizens think about politics; political ideologies

How citizens act politically: voting and elections

What citizens do when they are unhappy about politics: protest and revolutions?

V- Policy-making process.
Assignments and distribution of grades:
Class readings and activities 20%

Attendance and participation 10%

Term paper 20%

Mid term 20%

Final 30%
Schedule of classes and bibliography

First week, February 1-4


The comparative method in politics.

Newton & Van Deth. Introduction, p.1-10

Second week, February 8-11

The State, ancient and modern.

Ibid. Pp.13-33
Third week, February 15-18

Types of State, and levels of government

Ibid, p.105-132
Fourth week: February 22-25

Legal framework of politics.

Ibid, p.71-90
Fifth week: March 1-4

Government, and types of governmental systems

Sixth week: March 8-11

Government authorities

Ibid. p.134-150
Seventh week: March 15-18

March 15-Bureaucracy


March 18: Debating the State.

Submit an abstract of your term paper
Eighth week: March 22-25

Civil society and social movements

March 22 Mid-term

March 25: Society

Read: Ibid. p.198-223

Ninth week: March 29-April 2

Political Society: political parties

Read Ibid.Pp.268-288

Submit outline of your paper.

Tenth week :April 15

The media

Ibid. p.224-244
Eleventh week, April 19-22

The Citizen:

How citizens think about politics: Ideologies

Western ideologies

Read: 291-313

Ideologies in Arab countries: nationalism and political Islam

Read any of the following:

Gerges, Fawaz A.” The Islamist Moment: From Islamic State to Civil Islam?” Political Science Quarterly. Fall 2013.Vol.128, Issue 3,p.389-426
Pahwa, Sumita ” Secularizing Islamism and Islamizing Democracy: The Political and Ideational Evolution of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers 1984-2012”.Mediterranean Politics. July 2013. Vol.18 Issue 2. p.189-206.
Twelfth week: April 26-29

How do citizens behave in politics:

Political attitudes and behaviour

Newton & Van Deth.p.171-197

Thirteenth week: May 3-6

Voting behaviour

Read: Voters and elections.


Debate: Observations on Egyptian parliamentary elections.
Fourteenth week, May 10-13

Collective protest and revolution

Read: Timothy C. Lim. Chapter 7.Pp.221-250


Smith, B.C.”Instability and Revolution ”in Understanding Third World Politics. Theories of Political Change & Development. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2nd edition .2003. Pp.219-250
Fifteenth week: May 17.

The policy-making process.

Read. Newton & Van Deth. 315-336

Office hours:
Sunday and Wednesday

11-12 am

02-03 pm

Office: 2028 Political Science Department.
Assistant: May Seoud.



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