cod. 00895

Academic year 2020/21
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Scienza politica (SPS/04)
Discipline politologiche
Type of training activity
60 hours
of face-to-face activities
10 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course’s main aim is to allow Students to acquire a basic knowledge of political institutions, political phenomena and mechanisms that shape modern democracies.

Knowledge and Understanding:
the course provides students with an overview of contemporary political phenomena through the lenses of Political Science. It also offers some conceptual tools that are needed to critically understand the political debate. At the end of the course, students will acquire a basic knowledge of contemporary political systems and the ability to analyze their main features. They will also be able to understand current political events and dynamics.

Applying knowledge and understanding:
the course will take in consideration major topics in Political Science. For each of them, at least one example of its possibile application to the real world will be provided. At the end of the course, students should be able to interpret current politics with the lenses of Political Science and to critically understand the Italian political debate, also with reference to other Western democracies.

Making judgments:
the course will provide students with an analytical knowledge of current political systems. At the end of the course, it is expected that they will be able to critically understand the complexity of modern democracy, the intrinsic ambivalence of political phenomena and the main trade-offs that underlie political decisions. They should also be able to present their own point of view on the current political debate in a proper manner, also taking in consideration other existing analytical perspectives.

as for other social sciences, Political Science is characterized by its own jargon and its own way to present concepts and theoretical paradigms. At the end of the course, students should be able to clearly express and debate Political Science issues, also with the reference to the main theoretical debates and to the functioning of other contemporary democracies.

Learning skills:
at the end of the course, students are expected to acquire the ability to delve further into political science issues, either in comparative or in international perspective, and to be able to attend with proficiency any advanced political science course.



Course unit content

The course will provide students with a basic knowledge of existing political systems, with a specific focus on how democratic institutions work and through examples taken from the Italian and international political debate. The course is divided in 8 Teaching Units (TU): after a short introduction on the discipline and on the political system (TU1), the course will take in consideration the evolution of modern state and the problem of democratization (TU2); then, the course will discuss different patterns of democracies (TU3) and non-democratic regimes (TU4). After that, the course will focus specifically on the dynamics and the phenomena that shape the political system of contemporary democracies: first, the “input” side (TU5), i.e. participation and interests, political parties and party systems and, then, the black box (TU6), i.e. the political system and its functioning (effects of elections and electoral systems, parliaments, executives). After a workshop, the course will take in consideration the “output” side (TU7), i.e. the welfare state, bureaucracy and public policy. The course will end with a short review of EU institutions and the challenges of globalization to the Nation-State (TU8).

Full programme

The detailed program will be available on Elly.


Caramani D. (ed. by), Comparative Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020, chapters 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

Teaching methods

Activities will be carried out remotely via Ms Teams and Elly; in particular, lectures will be held in synchronous mode (via Teams) and in asynchronous mode (via Elly).
In order to increase interaction, attending students will be involved in the discussion of main issues that shape the Italian and the international political debate; the first part of each lecture will be devoted to this activity, in which a case study from previous lessons will be discussed.
Moreover, to increase students’ participation, several individual and group activities will be organized through the resources available on Elly (such as Forums).
Periodically, workshops and other activities will be scheduled to enhance students’ understanding of political dynamics, their jargon and their ability to apply knowledge to the current European political debate.
For non-attending students, lectures will be recorded and made available through Elly (https://elly2020.gspi.unipr.it).

The slides will be uploaded on Elly on a weekly basis. They may help either attending or non-attending Students in preparing their exam, but they do not substitute for the handbook.

Assessment methods and criteria

During the first semester of the academic year 2020/21, if the health emergency goes on and depending on its evolution, the exam may be held either in mixed mode (i.e. in presence, but with the possibility of holding it remotely for students who request it to the Professor), or only with online mode for all (remotely). Further info will be given on the system Esse3 ahead of the exam. In the case of online exams, Students will be provided few days before with a timetable and a link to Ms Teams.

Starting from December 2020, the final exam will be written and - if not in presence - will be held on Elly (using “Respondus” as a proctoring software). Results will be available within 10 days.
Also starting from a.y. 2020/21, assessment methods and criteria are different for students attending the online course (a.y. 2020/21) and for non-attendants (including students of previous academic years).
The WRITTEN EXAM (60 min) will be divided in two sections:

a) a first section with 10 closed-ended questions (multiple choice)
b) a second section with 3 open-ended questions to verify students’ ability to use Political Science’s jargon and to discuss political concepts.

Students’ knowledge and understanding of Political Science concepts, approaches and paradigms will be assessed through the first, multiple choice section (1 point for each question).

Their ability to apply their knowledge and understanding, and to make judgements will be verified through the the three open questions (6 points max for each question).

The ability to communicate will Political Science jargon will be assessed through the open questions (2 additional points).

The maximum final grade is 30/30. Praise will be given, in exceptional cases, only to Students who demonstrate excellent knowledge of the subject in the test.

The maximum grade is 30/30.
The oral exam is optional and aims at verifying any gap that may have emerged in the written test (minimum 3 questions on the entire program, + or - 3 points).

STUDENTS ATTENDING THE COURSE IN STREAMING ON MS TEAMS (a.y. 2020/21): for the first winter session (i.e. by February 2021) the evaluation is both ongoing and final (written exam). The ongoing evaluation will be considered on weighted average with the final one. After February 2021, these Students will be evaluated exclusively through the final written test.
ONGOING EVALUATION: students attending the online course in the a.y. 2020/21 will be evaluated for their participation in the activities and for their degree of interaction in class:
1. Interaction in class;
2. Monothematic forum after every TU;
3. workshop between TU 6 and 7.

Participation to the activities is on a voluntary basis; for each activity, Students will be given a feedback with a grade that Students can accept or refuse. Evaluation will take in consideration the number of interventions, as well as the relevance, completeness, clarity and general quality of each activity. The modality of each activity, as well as the specific evaluation criteria (number of interventions, relevance, completeness, clarity and general quality of each intervention) will be provided in the Elly page of the course ("General Information" section).

FINAL EVALUATION: the final evaluation for Students attending the online course in the a.y. 2020/21 (on average weighted with the possible ongoing evaluation) will be written (see below) and will be calibrated for each Student also in relation to any evaluations obtained in the different Teaching Units.

Other information