STV1300 – Introduction to Comparative Politics

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Course content

This course provides an introduction to the field of comparative politics, one of the major sub-disciplines of political science.

Comparative politics is the study of political phenomena that occur primarily within states and other political systems. It focuses on internal political structures, actors and processes, and analyze them empirically by describing, explaining and predicting their variety across systems – be they national, regional, local, or even supra-national. The course has three major goals: 1) to introduce you to the major theories and questions in comparative politics, 2) to present you with the empirical answers to these questions and 3) to give you tools to reflect critically on these answers. It focuses on the national level of politics and will present you with competing theories and evidence from recent original research. 

The course is organized thematically and covers the following topics:

  • The sub-discipline as such and its historical context
  • The concept and types of political regimes
  • Transitions between dictatorship and democracy
  • Political institutions in democratic political systems
  • Voters, parties and interest groups
  • Social movements and collective protest
  • Revolutions and civil war
  • Policy outputs and feedback

Examples of questions the course addresses are:

  • What is “democracy” and how do we measure it?
  • Why are some countries democratic whereas others are authoritarian?
  • How do governments form and how does their composition differ?
  • How do interest groups organize and try to exert political influence?
  • When do ordinary citizens turn to protest and political violence?
  • How do elections and resulting governments shape public policy?

Learning outcome


Students will:

  • Become acquainted with key questions, concepts and theories from comparative politics
  • Learn what the major differences between different regime types and forms of government are, and how such differences matter
  • Acquire basic knowledge about how and why institutions and actors in democratic political systems around the world differ and change, and with what consequences


Students will:

  • Get a coherent understanding of national political systems
  • Be able to compare different elements of political systems across countries
  • Be able to describe and explain the rise and variation in different regime types, forms of government and political institutions
  • Be able to describe and explain variation in different forms of participation and organized collective political action
  • Be able to assess the various effects of such differences within and across countries


Students will be trained in:

  • Using their general analytical skills
  • Synthesizing and comparing theoretical arguments
  • Critical evaluation of empirical evidence
  • Application of conceptual and theoretical knowledge on empirical cases
  • Discussing analytical questions based on multiple sources
  • Discussing key questions of comparative politics with fellow students


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


  • Thirteen lectures
  • Help to organize colloquiums, with a list of study questions
  • Guidance on how to write reading memos
  • Online test questions for assessment of progress (multiple choice)
  • Student resources associated with textbooks


4 hour exam

Previous exams and examination guidelines

Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language