Module code: POL2029

Module Overview

The module lays a theoretical foundation for empirical studies of modern governmental structures. It offers students an understanding of the structures of governments, the variations in state organisation, governmental forms and party systems. In particular, it will examine the main elements of the modern democratic state in a comparative manner, stressing both the commonalities and differences between systems around the world.  Technically, the module will provide students with the basic ideas and skills that will serve them for further study of both comparative government and individual case studies, as well as introducing them to core literature in the field. The mdule seeks to develop research and analytical skills useful to the research of comparative politics. It also expands notions of democracies to discuss non-Western democratic models and key examples from authoritarian and illiberal states from around the world to discuss democratic challenges. We bring forward comparative analysis on social movements and political participation, highlighting movements like gender and race equality, autonomy, environmental and climate change movements, from a comparative point of view, including the value of protesting. We focus therefore both on the formal and informal side of political life with a view to master comparative research techniques.




Module provider


Module Leader

EXADAKTYLOS Theofanis (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module will present the basic elements of modern political systems to students. This works up from basic ideas of the link between state and citizens, to more precise institutional features. Students will apply this material through group work, to create their own state, which they will then evaluate and develop.

  • Political Systems: classifications, models and heuristics.

  • Constitutions: theoretical basis, models, scope and enforcement.

  • Interest Representation: the link between citizen and state, individual vs. collective  action, top-down and bottom-up approaches, socio-political change, electoral systems.

  • Political Parties: definitions, classifications, activities, relationship to state, contemporary challenges to parties’ roles.

  • Executives: definition, function, scope, relationship to legislatures, control mechanisms.

  • Legislatures: definition, function, relationship to executives and citizens, changing roles.

  • Judiciaries: definition, function, enforcement mechanisms, politicisation.

  • Social movements: emergence and impact on political systems

  • Public policy: process, ideology, and effects

  • Democratisation: emergence, consolidation and sustainability processes

  • Globalisation and Devolution Effects on the State: how has the State reacted to the opening-up of transnational governance?  What is the consequence of increasing devolution? How have these processes affected state structures and processes?


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test ONLINE (OPEN BOOK) THREE WEEKLY QUIZZES (10 MINUTES PER QUIZ) 20
Coursework LITERATURE REVIEW (1,000 WORDS) 20
Coursework SUMMATIVE ESSAY (3,000 WORDS) 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  • In-lecture quizzes online: these aim to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their fundamental knowledge of the class material, ensuring that all students are on the same page; to reflect on their own learning and make use of the reading material; consolidate knowledge through short-answer questions, multiple choice, true/false statements, fill-in-the-gap answers.

  • Literature review: it aims to provide students the opportunity to identify relevant theoretical frameworks and schools of thought; critically apply their perception on the theoretical framework; gather, organize and employ different opinions; construct reasoned arguments and exercise critical judgement; deploy a range of research skills; access relevant material to extract information; evaluate different arguments.

  • Final essay: it aims to provide the students with the opportunity to apply all the above in the literature review; reflect on their own performance, assess and constructively incorporate previous feedback; identify relevant examples to support their theoretical argument; identify, investigate, analyse and project empirical evidence; apply theoretical frameworks to policy/empirical analysis; adopt a proactive approach to finding new sources; demonstrate a range or research skills

  • Thus the assessment develops digital and non-digital research capabilities, requires the application of comparative methods to gauge the political and social diversity, engage on issues of sustainability of democracy, and becoming resourceful in supporting own argument and consolidating ideas around comparative politics. The purpose is also develop employability skills in presenting and defending ideas with empirical evidence.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Three in-class online quizzes spread throughout the module, unseen and at unknown times. These are 10-minute long and assess knowledge of the material of the previous lecture to the week of the quiz through short-answer questions and multiple choice questions.

  • A literature review of 1000 words on a prescribed question that forms the first part of the final essay—as outlined in the handbook.

  • A final essay of 3000 words that incorporates a revised version of the literature review above in addition to empirical examples that respond to the needs of the prescribed question.

Assessment deadlines to be confirmed in the module handbook.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive regular feedback based on their knowledge of the module material through the quizzes, and their first assignment will provide feedback to be used in the final essay. Seminars will be an opportunity to discuss feedback and provide peer review to the students’ work.

Module aims

  • Consolidate and develop students' knowledge of comparative government and politics, offering perspectives both inside and outside Western Europe.
  • Provide students with skills to describe and analyse national power structures and processes to understand the diverse nature of democracy around the world.
  • Introduce basic comparative politics literature to students including classifications of democracies, authoritarian regimes, social movements, political institutions, and globalisation processes from a national politics point of view
  • Understand the value of empirical evidence to ground comparative research and analysis
  • Obtain key features of digital and non-digital tools for comparative research
  • Become resourceful in narrowing down wide research questions on comparative politics

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe national political systems and their constituent elements from various national contexts around the world. KCPT
002 Identify and interpret power relations between political actors to understand challenges around sustainability of democracy. KCPT
003 Make critical evaluations of differences between various national political systems using the appropriate comparative politics methodologies and research design tools KCPT
004 Assess challenges to the position of the modern state from authoritarianism and explore the value of internationalisation through supranationalism KCPT
005 Critically apply theoretical literature to practical examples, finding and presenting information through a variety of digital and non-digital tools, including online indices, research database and software tools for political analysis KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

introduce students to new topics, gauge level of knowledge and engagement with the material and provide an appropriate space for a frutiful dialogue around contentious issues on democracy, institutions, process and political participation and culture from various global and national perspectives.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 1 1-hr lecture

  • 1 1-hr seminar

In addition, approximately 1 hr is required on captured content and digital resources on SurreyLearn to gain the full elements of the module. Support through guided learning for this module is provided on SurreyLearn

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL2029

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
International Relations BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Economics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2022/3 academic year.