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Regular version of the site

Modern Political Science

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
1 year, 1, 2 module


Course Syllabus


This is a blended-learning course, based on the series of video-lectures given by prof. Furio Cerutti (University of Firenze). This course is designed as a vocabulary of the main terms used by all of us when talking about local as well as world politics. We often use these terms without a proper awareness of their meanings and connections, a circumstance not exactly helpful for any attempt to understand how politics really works, regardless of our wishful thinking or simplistic morality or easy cynicism. Now, if we want to go deeper into the workings of politics we must agree to begin with very abstract notions. This includes the general definitions of what politics, conflict, power and what legitimate power mean. On these premises, we will then explain the still main political institution, the state, and peer into the dynamics of war and peace that has dominated the relationships between the states. Since with economic globalisation, which has restricted the room for political action, things are getting much more complicated, so classical notions have to be rethought. The very nature of the threats endangering our global commons does not leave the definition of politics. Students will watch video-lectures as a part of their independent work and in classes we will discuss its content.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Overview of the main research areas of political science, history of its development and formation
  • General introduction into the process of institutionalization of political science and its main scientific schools
  • To discuss different approaches in political science of XX century
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students will achieve a clearer and less confused awareness of political vocabulary, thus gaining a more complex, more autonomous and more critical understanding of political processes
  • Students will gain general understanding about concepts of power, legitimacy and authority, how they are interconnected and how its balance affecting politics
  • Students will get initial knowledge about complexity of democracy concept and what is polyarchy, Madissonian democracy and pluralistic democracy
  • To recieve clear vision on role and place of civic and military actors in politics and to understand how global politics was shaped after the Cold War
  • Get skills of effective public speech and public presentations, both in groups and individually
  • Know main concepts and frameworks of comparative political analysis, role of conceptualization for better research and how party systems are working in diffrent conditions
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Aim and method of the course. General information.
    How the course is organized and how to approach political science. Question about politics, policy and polity. Some milestones of political science development
  • (Political) power, authority and legitimacy
    The way power is used or exists in all types of relationships is central to the understanding of politics – not just in government, perhaps even more importantly in family and friendship groups too. How to conceptualize power? And what is this "golden" triangle consisted of power, authority and legitimacy?
  • From democracy to polyarchy - Robert Dahl
    The main question of political science, democratic rule, polyarchy and incrementalism in policymaking. Robert Dahl left a significant trace in the development of political science and this class is dedicated to discussion on some of his core ideas and proposals
  • Civil-military relations and the world of conflicts - Samuel Huntington
    How to balance civic and military representation in politics, waves of democratization and world order after the Cold War. Huntington was a controversial, but intruguing figure and his ideas are still disscussed among scholars, so we also join to these discussions and try to figure out some crucial aspects of globalization and world politics
  • Social foundations of politics - An introduction to Seymour Lipset.
    American uniqueness, democracy, modernization and socio-political cleavages. Seymour Lipset is one of the key figures in the U.S. political sociology - interesting representative of American neoconservatism and the man who did a serious contribution into the development of social movements theory, political radicalism studies and social mobility.
  • Comparative politics and ladder of abstraction - Giovani Sartori
    Theory of democracy, party systems and political constitutionalism, role of political elites and focus on conceptualization in comparative political science - Giovanni Sartori was able to return Italy on the map of countries well-known for their political scientists and continued tradition of very detailed and deep studies of democratic political regimes and their comparativeness
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Reflection paper
  • non-blocking Midterm test
  • non-blocking Final test
  • non-blocking Active participation in class
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.1 * Active participation in class + 0.4 * Final test + 0.3 * Midterm test + 0.2 * Reflection paper


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Dahl, R. A. (1971). Polyarchy : Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=52899
  • Huntington, S. P. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22. https://doi.org/10.2307/20045621
  • Klingemann, H.-D., & Goodin, R. E. (1996). A New Handbook of Political Science. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=273524
  • Loomis, B. A. (1983). Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. Edited by Lipset Seymour Martin. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. Pp. xxi + 586. $8.95, paper.). American Political Science Review, (02), 557. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v77y1983i02p557.558.24
  • Sartori, G. (1970). Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics. American Political Science Review, (04), 1033. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v64y1970i04p1033.1053.13

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Dahl, R. A. (1989). Who Governs? : Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=52913
  • Huntington, S. P. (1957). The Soldier and the State : The Theory and Politics of Civil–Military Relations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1913278
  • Sartori, G. (1999). The Party——Effects of Electoral Systems. Israel Affairs, 6(2), 13. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537129908719557