Studying online

There are now 3 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Units available in Online Restricted mode have been adapted for online study only for those students who require the unit to complete their studies and who are unable to attend campus owing to exceptional circumstances beyond their control. To be enrolled in a unit in Online Restricted mode, students should contact their Student Advising Office through askUWA

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit introduces students to the study of comparative politics. It examines the ways in which political systems vary across the world, from ideas to institutional structures to policy outputs. The unit will first engage with the core features of political systems, both democratic and non-democratic. Elements covered include constitutions, executive government, legislatures and parliaments, federal and unitary systems, parties and electoral systems and the media. Why have countries evolved different approaches to government, and to what extent do these approaches conform to democratic principles? What impacts do political systems have on core policy areas such as health care, the environment and criminal justice? Are political institutions and cultures static? Or is change possible? How does the Australian system compare? In addressing these questions, the unit seeks to engage with important contemporary debates and issues, such as the rise of populism, the role of money in politics and the capacity of political systems to deal with major crises.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Political Science and International Relations; Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate advanced knowledge about the field of comparative politics and the functions of diverse political ideas, theories, actors and institutions in democratic and non-democratic systems; (2) critically explain and evaluate relevant ideas, theories and concepts that seek to explain cross-national variation in political and policy dynamics; (3) creatively apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to independently and collaboratively address challenges, crises and change in the political world; (4) competently apply basic Political Science methods and skills to designing and executing social research in relation to key topics in comparative politics; and (5) effectively communicate political knowledge, ideas, analyses and arguments about comparative politics in different formats.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) assignment; and (3) final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Felix Pal
Unit rules
12 points of Social Sciences and/or Humanities study at level 1
Advisable prior study
POLS level 1 units
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.