• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Categories of Political Science

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
1 year, 1-3 module


Course Syllabus


The Categories of Political Science is an introductory course, aimed at providing students with basic knowledge on politics as the sphere of social activity and as an academic discipline. It aims at discussing the evolution of Political Science; the key political concepts, theories, institutions and processes are discussed in the global comparative perspective.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To give students a comprehensive overview of the basic scientific approaches to Political Science, its main theories and concepts
  • To develop the basic skills of describing and interpreting political and social processes in terms of Political Science concepts and theories
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Defines basic characteristics of Political Science as a social science
  • Enumerates and describes the main stages of Political Science development
  • Identifies and defines the basic concepts of Political Science
  • Applies the basic concepts and assumptions of the Political Science theories to describe political phenomena
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Topic 1. What is Politics?
    Politics as a sphere of social activity. Politics as the art of government and profession. Politics and power relations. The “profession” and “vocation” of Politics. Politics, Polity, Policy.
  • Topic 2. What is Political Science?
    Science and scientific explanation. Hard and soft sciences. Political Science as a social science. Empirical, Normative and Critical Political Science. Political Science professions. Theories and models in Political Science.
  • Topic 3. Modern Political Science: The Origins
    The emergence of modern Political Science. Old Institutionalism. Chicago School (C. Merriam, H. Lasswell). Behavioral Revolution of Political Science. Political Behavior as a research object.
  • Topic 4. Political Systems and System Approach
    The system approach in social sciences (T. Parsons). Political system (D. Easton, G. Almond, S. Verba, K. Deutsch). Structural functionalism.
  • Topic 5. Rational Choice in Political Science
    The notion of rationality. Rational Choice Theory. Rochester School and Positive Political Theory (W. Riker). Rational Choice models in Political Science (W. Riker, A. Downs).
  • Topic 6. Political Institutions and New Institutionalism
    The notion of institution. Formal and informal institutions. New Institutionalism (Sociological, Historical, RCT).
  • Topic 7. The State and Political Power
    The State: Definitions and Theories. The Social Contract (T. Hobbes, J. Locke). The Monopoly on Violence (M. Webber). The State and Modern Political Science. State Autonomy and State Capacity (B. Geddes, T. Skocpol). Political Power: Interpretations and Definitions. Despotic and Infrastructural Power (M.Mann). “Three Faces of Power” (S. Lukes).
  • Topic 8. Political Regimes: Democracies and Democratization
    Political Regime. Democracy. Classic definition of democracy. Minimal and Electoral democracy (J. Schumpeter). Polyarchy. Democratization and Political Transit.
  • Topic 9. Political Regimes: Non-Democracies
    Totalitarian Regimes. Authoritarianism and its types. Hybrid Regimes. Competitive and Electoral Authoritarianism. Stability of authoritarian regimes.
  • Topic 10: Institutional Designs of Democracies
    Institutional design. Patterns of Democracy (A. Lijphart). Majoritarian and Consensus Democracies
  • Topic 11. Division of Power and Systems of Government
    Horizontal Division of Power. Head of State, Cabinet, Assembly (Legislature) and their functions. Hierarchical and Transactional Division of Power. Systems of Government: Presidential, Parliamentary, Semi-Presidential systems.
  • Topic 12. Branches of Government
    The role, functions and structure of assemblies. Organizational and political structure. Unicameral and bicameral assemblies. Functions of the executive. Presidents, prime-ministers and cabinets. Constitutions. Legal Systems. Courts as political actors. Judicial activism and judicial restraint.
  • Topic 13. Unitary and Federal Systems
    Types of state: Unitary, Federal and Confederation. Federalism: Background and Distinctive Traits (W. Riker, P. Ordeshook, D. Elazar). Decentralization in Unitary States. Federalism and Political Regime. Regional Policy
  • Topic 14. Political Ideologies
    The Notion of Ideology. Liberalism. Conservatism. Socialism and Social Democracy. New Ideologies.
  • Topic 15. Civil Soicety and Political Culture
    Civil society: interpretations. Social Capital. Political and civic culture.
  • Topic 16. Interest Groups
    Interest Groups and Advocacy in Politics. Lobbying. Models of Interest Representation. Pluralism, Corporatism, Neo-Corporatism.
  • Topic 18. Elections and Electoral Systems
    Electoral System. Types of Electoral Systems: Plural, Proportional and Mixed. Electoral Formula. Interaction between Electoral and Party Systems: Duverger’s Law. Electoral Engineering. Gerrymandering.
  • Topic 17. Political Parties
    Origins of Political Parties. Types of Political Parties: Mass and Cadre Parties (M. Duverger). Catch-all Parties. Parties vs. Interest Groups. Functions of Political Parties. Party Systems Classifications (M. Duverger, G. Sartori). Effective Number of Parties.
  • Topic 19. The Media and Public Opinion
    Mass Media and politics. Theories of media effects. Agenda-setting, framing, priming. Public opinion and its sources.
  • Topic 20. Public Participation and Electoral Behavior
    Political and Civic Participation. Resource model of participation (Nye and Verba). Ladder of Participation. Social movements. Voting and electoral behavior.
  • Topic 21. Public Policy
    The notion of policy. Public policy process. Policy Cycle.
  • Topic 22. Governance
    Government and governance. Good governance and quality of institutions. Bad governance.
  • Topic 23. Bureaucracy
    Bureaucracy: Weber’s Ideal Type and Its Limits. Political Role of Bureaucracy.
  • Topic 24. International Relations and World Politics
    IR and WP: what is the difference? Idealism and realism in International Relations. Actors of world politics.
  • Topic 25. Globalization
    What is globalization? Economic, political and social globalization. Pros and cons of globalization
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Quiz
    Each seminar (except the first one) students are to do the quiz on the topic of the previous seminar. The quizzes contain 10 questions of various kinds: multiple choice, fill in the gaps, matching, open questions requiring short answers, aiming at assesing the students progress. The quiz is to be done within 10 minutes. The grade for this component is calculated as a rounded average for all the quizes (including the ones the student was absent, except for valid and documented reasons).
  • non-blocking Midterm Test
    The Midterm Test is organized during the last seminar of Module 2 in a test form, including open questions. The duration of the test is 80 minutes. Each part of the test contains the tasks of extra difficulty. The test covers the materials from lectures and mandatory readings of the course content discussed in Modules 1-2, and contains: - part A with 10 multiple choice questions 1 point each, 10 points in total - part B with 5 questions of other types (fill in the gaps, ordering, matching), 2 points each, 10 points in total. - part C with 2 open questions, requiring short answers, 5 points each, 10 points in total.
  • non-blocking Written Assignment
    Each student is supposed to submit an essay on one of the given topic. The essay should provide a detailed reflection to the given statement, supported by the arguments from the PS theories. The volume of the essay is 500 - 600 words. The essay is to be submitted no later than Seminar 23.
  • non-blocking Final Test
    The final test is organized at Seminar 23 and is conducted in a test form, including open questions. Each part of the test has questions of extra difficulty. The duration of the test is 60 minutes. The final test covers the materials from lectures and mandatory readings of all the course content, contains: - part A with 10 multiple choice questions 1 point each, 10 points in total - part B with 5 questions of other types (fill in the gaps, ordering, matching), 2 points each, 10 points in total. - part C with 2 open questions, requiring short answers, 5 points each, 10 points in total.
  • non-blocking Exam
    Examination is carried out in written form and last for 2 academic hours. Students are informed about the final list of questions well in advance. At the exam a student receives a question card with two questions, and is to write down a small essay (narration) based on these questions. The students may be exempted from the exam, upon the decision of the lecturer, announced at the final class.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.2 * Exam + 0.2 * Final Test + 0.2 * Midterm Test + 0.2 * Quiz + 0.2 * Written Assignment


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Amadae, S. M., & Bueno de Mesquita, B. (1999). THE ROCHESTER SCHOOL: The Origins of Positive Political Theory. Annual Review of Political Science, 2(1), 269. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.2.1.269
  • Andreas Bågenholm, Monika Bauhr, Marcia Grimes, & Bo Rothstein. (2021). The Oxford Handbook of the Quality of Government. OUP Oxford.
  • Brady, H. E., Verba, S., & Schlozman, K. L. (1995). Beyond SES: A Resource Model of Political Participation. American Political Science Review, 2, 271.
  • Christian Reus-Smit, & Duncan Snidal. (2010). The Oxford Handbook of International Relations: Vol. [Paperback edition.]. OUP Oxford.
  • Dahl, R. A. (1961). The Behavioral Approach in Political Science: Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Protest. American Political Science Review, (04), 763. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v55y1961i04p763.772.12
  • Dietram A. Scheufele, & David Tewksbury. (n.d.). ORIGINAL ARTICLE Framing, Agenda Setting, and Priming: The Evolution of Three Media Effects Models. Http://Www.Facoltaspes.Unimi.It/Files/_ITA_/COM/3-Framing-AgendaSetting.Pdf.
  • Easton, D. (1969). The New Revolution in Political Science. American Political Science Review, (04), 1051. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v63y1969i04p1051.1061.26
  • Fukuyama, F. (DE-588)119203685, (DE-576)168597780. (2013). What is governance? / Francis Fukuyama. Washington/D.C: Center for Global Development. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.40721349X
  • Gerschewski, J. (2019). The three pillars of stability: legitimation, repression, and co-optation in autocratic regimes. Democratization ; 20 ; 1 ; 13-38. https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2013.738860
  • Hall, P. A., & Taylor, R. C. R. (1996). Political science and the three new institutionalisms. MPIfG Discussion Paper.
  • Lijphart, A. (2012). Patterns of Democracy: Vol. 2nd ed. Yale University Press.
  • Mann, M. (2017). El poder autónomo del Estado: Sus orígenes, mecanismos y resultados ; The autonomous power of the state: Its origins, mechanisms, and results.
  • Michael Freeden, Lyman Tower Sargent, & Marc Stears. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies. OUP Oxford.
  • Political science: an introduction, , 2017
  • Robert A. Dahl, Ian Shapiro, & José Antonio Cheibub. (2003). The Democracy Sourcebook. The MIT Press.
  • The Oxford handbook of comparative politics / ed. by Carles Boix . (2007). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.253058961
  • Weible, C. M., & Sabatier, P. A. (2017). Theories of the Policy Process (Vol. Fourth edition). Boulder, CO: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1451128

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Heywood, A. (2012). Political Ideologies : An Introduction (Vol. 5th ed). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1522818
  • Robert E. Goodin, & Hans-Dieter Klingemann. (1996). A New Handbook of Political Science. OUP Oxford.
  • Saadia M. Pekkanen, John Ravenhill, & Rosemary Foot. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the International Relations of Asia. Oxford University Press.