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The University of Southampton

PAIR1002 Political Systems

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the study of politics and the key concepts and theoretical approaches in comparative politics. Pre-requisite for PAIR2031, PAIR2037, PAIR3039 and PAIR3046

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Identify and analyse the differences between democracies, semi-democracies, and authoritarian regimes. • Examine different typologies of transitions from authoritarianism to democracy and discuss the historical and global conditions that may determine the success of a transition. • Understand how states are constructed and the contemporary threats to their existence. • Describe and compare how different political systems work, focusing on the institutions and actors involved in the political process. • Discuss citizen behaviour, voting and protest in a range of political systems.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of core concepts relevant to the study of democratic and authoritarian political systems.
  • Show understanding of the key theories in the field of comparative politics
  • Demonstrate knowledge of key empirical information about political systems in Europe and other world regions
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how political systems can be studied in a systematic and rigorous way


This module provides an introduction to the study of politics and the key concepts and components of political systems. This module is organised as follows: First, we will identify the different types of political regime, and study the differences between political regimes around the world and the conditions for transitions from one regime to another. Second, we will look at the formation and dismantling of states from a variety of perspectives. Third, we will analyse a range of substantive issues for the field such as party systems, political ideologies, elections and referendums. Finally, we will consider citizens in democracies, addressing voter behaviour, declining turnout and political protest. This module provides an introduction to the study of politics and the key concepts and components of political systems.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods


Independent Study121
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Michael Gallagher, Michael Laver and Peter Mair (2011). Representative Government in Modern Europe. 

Rod Hague, Martin Harrop & John McCormick (2016). Comparative Government and Politics. 

Caramani, Daniele (2014). Comparative Politics. 

Library resources.



MethodPercentage contribution
Attendance 15%
Essay  (2000 words) 60%
Quizzes 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

A textbook.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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