STV2360 – Democratic Institutional Design

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this course we address three key issues in the design and functioning of political institutions:

  1. the structure of and relationship between the executive, the legislative, the judiciary and public administration and how election systems impact these institutions.
  2. the relationship between these institutions and individual and collective actors like MPs and political parties.
  3. the impact of institutions and actors on policy outcomes.

To facilitate the discussion of these three issues, we focus empirically on three areas of the world:

  • Western Europe
  • USA
  • Central and Eastern Europe

Learning outcome


You will:

  • learn how the different institutions interact with each other in parliamentary and presidential systems
  • learn how election systems shape recruitment to and interaction between political institutions
  • learn about the (typical) stages in the legislative process in parliamentary and presidential systems
  • learn about the role of political parties


You will:

  • be able to identify and distinguish key features of parliamentary and presidential systems
  • be able to discuss to what extent the institutional arrangement contribute to democratic processes
  • define and discuss key terms and concepts within the field of comparative political institutions
  • be able use theories and models in your own analysis of political processes and the functioning of political institutions
  • be able to structure academic texts with research questions that the student has chosen him-/herself or that are pre-defined.
  • be able to relate a research question to the academic literature in the area and assess how the choice of research question determines the choices of research design, the need for sources/data and the research method.
  • be able to communicate academic knowledge in writing and orally and provide constructive criticism of other students’ assignments.


You will:

  • develop analytical capabilities
  • gain experience in writing academic texts


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.

This course is not available for single course students.


Recommended previous knowledge

STV1300 – Komparativ politikk or other introductory courses in comparative politics.


Lectures and seminars.

Compulsory activities

  • Attend the first seminar
  • Present a short outline for your term paper
  • Present your term paper
  • Comment on other students' papers
  • Present revised paper to seminar leader for comments

The seminars are taught in English, and the papers handed in must be written in English.

See the seminar guidelines for more information about the seminars.

See the rules for reassignment of seminar groups and the guidelines for compulsory acitivities.

Absence from compulsory activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


  • 3-hour written exam.
  • term paper.
  • you must pass the compulsory activities in order to sit the exam.

The term paper must:


  • you must pass the written exam and the term paper in the same semester.
  • the two parts are evaluated together and given one, overall grade.
  • the written exam counts more than the term paper.
  • if you appeal against the grade, the appeal is of both the written exam and the term paper.
  • previous exams and examination guidelines.

Example papers.

Written 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.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

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

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in 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

Ask for an explanation

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.

If you have previously passed the mandatory activities, you do not have to repeat the activities in order to sit for the 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





Teaching language