European Politics POLITIC4090

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The purpose of this course is to expand students' knowledge of comparative politics by examining the party systems, political ideologies and governing institutions of contemporary European societies.


This course may not be running this year. For further information please check the Politics and IR Moodle page or contact the subject directly.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry requirements to Honours Politics or International Relations.

Excluded Courses





Exam (50%)

Essay, 2000 words (40%)

Participation grade (10%)

The participation grade is judged on the quality (not quantity) of oral interventions in the seminars and the student's willingness to engage in the debates related to the set readings. Students with a low attendance record cannot score a high participation grade. For students who prefer to not speak in class, there will be an online forum where students can post questions and comments related to the readings.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses


Course Aims

The purpose of this course is to examine and compare the party systems, political ideologies, electoral systems, and governing institutions of contemporary European societies. Through a comparative European perspective, students will learn about political and economic institutions such as government types, welfare states, electoral systems and federal arrangements. An important element of the course will look at why some regions and sub-state entities are pushing for increased autonomy or even outright secession. In the second half of the course, we will focus on parties and the most important party families, touching upon issues such as the decline of social democracy and the rise of populism.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Understand key theories of comparative politics as they apply to European societies

■ Analyse political processes and outcomes in specific European countries and develop arguments to explain these processes and outcomes

■ Evaluate the reasons for the rise in populism and political polarisation in European democracies

■ Examine the effects of different electoral systems and identify their importance in shaping political outcomes

■ Understand the importance of independence movements within European states and how they challenge their political legitimacy

■ Debate the relative advantages and disadvantages of the political systems in various European countries and explain orally how one's own country's political system compares to that of those we discuss in the lecture and seminar.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.