STV4358 – Comparative Political Institutions

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this course, we compare how political institutions shape politics and policy-outcomes.

In the first part of the course, we review spatial models before investigating approaches for identifying spatial positions of political actors and policies.

In second part of the course, we apply these models and measurements to analyze government formation and duration; executive -legislative relations; and legislative coalition formation and organization.

Empirically, the course will draw on insights from a range of political systems, including, but not limited to, the EU, US and national European nation-states. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with existing datasets and be able to rely on these for the assignments.

Learning outcome


Students will:

  • Become familiar with the key literature in the field
  • Learn how spatial models can inform the analysis of comparative political institutions
  • Become aware of the strength and limitations of commonly used datasets and methods in the field
  • Learn how, and to what extent, institutional rules shape government formation and duration, executive –legislative relations, as well as legislative coalition formation and organization
  • Learn how to evaluate the empirical regularities in light of different models and methods
  • Develop a critical understanding of the how, and to what extent, the choice of measurements influence findings in the literature


Students are expected to:

  • Be able to apply the logic of simple spatial models in own research
  • Become equipped with the necessary tools to conduct independent research on comparative political institutions
  • Be able to present and discuss existing research in a scholarly manner


Students will:

  • Gain competence in writing academic texts
  • Become experienced in applying spatial models, relevant data, and appropriate methods for analyzing key controversies in the field of comparative political institutions


This course is reserved for students who fulfill the formal prerequisites. The course is open to both Master and PhD students


Lectures and seminars.

The course consists of a mix between lectures and seminars. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the material prior to the class.


Portfolio examination.

The portfolio examination consists of a series of hand-in assignments. The weekly assignment will be handed out after the lecture on last lecture of the week. The deadline for submitting the assignment is one hour before the first lecture of the following week.

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






This course is not given on a regular basis


This course is not given on a regular basis

Teaching language