Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The course provides notions about the method, concepts, categories, and key patterns of Political Science. At the end of the course the student is able to describe and interpret political phenomena and, in particular, the funtioning and transformations of democratic political systems. The course also provides students with intellectual tools for decoding the current political debate, as well as with logical and linguistic tools for communicating the results of their analysis to an audience of specialists and non-specialists.

Course contents

The first section of this course provides students with the definition of some basic categories and concepts (politics, political regimes, political participation). Long-term processes of democratization are analyzed and characteristics of democratic regimes are defined, in comparison with non-democratic ones. In this section, actors and institutions of democracies will be reviewed in comparative perspective.

The second section provides a description of the main democratic countries of Europe (Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain) and the United States, with particular attention to political participation, elections, parliaments, the legislative process, formation and stability of governments, territorial institutions, the main aspects of policy making, the role of the country in international politics.

In the final classes we will be able to analyze other national cases (Spain, Poland, Brasil, Japan, South Africa) and to discuss the perspectives and challenges democracies face at the beginning of the XXI century.

A detailed syllabus will be circulated in the first class.


Salvatore Vassallo (a cura di), Sistemi politici comparati, Il Mulino, 2016 (seconda edizione).

Salvatore Vassallo, Marco Valbruzzi, I partiti della Grande Recessione contro i partiti della Grande Depressione. Un nuovo cleavage o un'altra bolla?, in "Stato e mercato" 1/2018, pp. 87-116.

Teaching methods

The course will be organized in lessons, each dealing with a specific topic. Students attending to classes are warmly encouraged to read the assigned texts beforehand. Charts and figures shown in class will be made available after each lesson.

Assessment methods

During the course there will be three written tests to be taken by the students, for learning assessment on themes pointed out in class by the instructor and treated in reference texts. Each test consists of open-ended questions. The time allotted is 45 minutes. The final evaluation will be the average of the three scores. If the average is greater than or equal to 31, the final grade will be 30 e lode. You can not selectively reject the valuation obtained on one written test. For those who have not attended at least two tests, there is a single written test to be held during the january-Februray or September examination sessions that will focus on the whole program. Those who participated in only two written tests can save those scores and take a written test on the only remaining part during the January-February examination session. Those who are not satisfied with the score achieved in the written tests can take an oral exam which will focus on the whole program.

Teaching tools

Video projector. Pc. Online course materials.

Office hours

See the website of Salvatore Vassallo