AP Comparative Government and Politics


Woods Charter School 2016/2017


Instructor:       Mr. Andrew Nelson

                        Phone: 919-960-8353 ext. 219

                        Email: anelson@woodscharter.org


Texts:              O’Neal, Patrick. Essentials of Comparative Politics, 2nd Edition.  W.W. Norton & Company.  New York, New York. 2007.


                        O’Neal, Patrick, et al. Cases in Comparative Politics, 2nd Edition.  W.W. Norton & Company.  New York, New York. 2007.


                        Mingst, Karen. Essentials of International Relations. W.W. Norton & Company. New York, New York. 2004.


                        Kesselman, Mark, et al. Introduction to Comparative Politics,5th Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, Massachusetts. 2010.


            In addition to these texts, we will extensively use news articles, primary source documents, video (esp. C-SPAN, TED and Frontline World), various websites, and information from international organizations.  Students should also purchase an AP guide in preparation for the exam.


Class Overview:


            The goal of this class is to study the concepts of comparative government and international relations; focusing specifically on six nation-states: the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Mexico, Nigeria, and Iran.  In addition, the class will prepare students for the Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics exam in May.  Topics of study will include history of international relations; sovereignty, authority, and power; citizens, society, and the state; political institutions on both the national and international levels; political and economic change; and public policy.  The content of this course will be equivalent to that of a college course, and will enable students to grow in their understanding of governments and societies around the world.  Students will be expected to do substantial reading for homework, which will be supplemented by lectures, simulations, debates, videos, and in-class seminar discussions.  Students will also keep up with current events throughout the course.  Assessment will be in the form of unit tests and research papers, reading and current events quizzes, discussion participation, and class preparation.  Unit tests will combine multiple choice questions, short response questions and free response questions, and will be modeled on the format of the AP exam.




Learning Outcomes:


·         Students will be able to recognize, describe and explain major concepts

·         Students will be able to read, analyze and interpret quantitative and qualitative data as it applies to government and politics

·         Students will be able to access data, research studies and information useful for comparative analysis

·         Students will be able to apply conceptual understanding to country studies

·         Students will be able to analytically and interpretively write about topics related to comparative government and politics, and international relations

·         Students will be able to define and explain relevant vocabulary related to both political science and international relations

·         Students will be able to evaluate and compare theories of politics and international relations including: traditional, behavioral, modernization, postmodernism, radical, and constructivism (among others)

·         Students will be able to identify and explain the philosophical contributions of ancient, enlightenment, and modern thinkers

·         Students will be able to examine the structures of government and society and how both influence political climates and international relations


Class Requirements:


  • Complete the weekly assigned reading and be prepared to discuss in class.
  • Take meticulous and extensive notes on class lectures and discussions, and maintain an organized notebook.
  • Bring in a news articles at designated times for the Current Events Board.  We will have discussions and/or quizzes on the articles periodically.
  • Each trimester, write one or two 6 – 8 page double-spaced research papers on an assigned topic (options will be available).
  • Multiple choice and essay tests at the end of each unit of study.
  • AP Exam in May.


Grade Calculations Each Trimester:


Class Participation                              20%

Unit Tests                                            40%

Research Papers/Presentations            30%

Quizzes                                               10%


Grade Calculations for the Year:


Each trimester will count as 25% of the final grade for the year, a mid-term exam will comprise 10%, and there will be a year-end final project worth 15%.




Class Policies:


Late Assignments: For every day an assignment is late, it will lose a letter grade (A becomes a B, etc…). Friday to Monday counts as one day.


Class Materials: Students are expected to come to class every day with the textbook in which the reading has been assigned, a notebook, and a writing utensil.  Taking good notes in class is key to success in both high school and later in college.


Computers in Class: Laptop computers are NOT permitted in class unless the student has special provision designated for them by the school or special permission by the instructor.


Emailed Assignments: Students may email me assignments, however, if a student emails an assignment, they MUST turn in a piece of paper with his/her name, the date, the assignment, and a declaration that it has been emailed.  Also, I will reply to all emailed assignments to let the student know I have received it.  If a student does not receive a reply from me by 10pm on the day he or she sent the email, he/she should assume I have not received the email and should bring a hard copy to school.


Discipline and Cheating: Cheating will be punished with an automatic zero on the assignment in addition to school disciplinary action.  If a student is found to be using unauthorized materials on an exam they will receive a zero for that exam.  If a student is found to have copied another student’s work or another source for any assignment, that student will get a zero, as well as the student who knowingly allowed his/her classmate to copy.  Copying is plagiarism and is not acceptable in any environment, especially academia.  In regards to discipline, my class discipline policies adhere to those dictated by the school, which can be found in the Student Handbook.


Food and Gum: Students are not permitted to eat or chew gum during class.  Students may bring drinks to class as long as they are in clear plastic bottles.


Absences: If a student is absent, he/she is still responsible for any material from the missed class.


Definitions/Explanations of Written Assignments:


Current Events: Throughout the course of our study, each student will be expected to keep up with current event issues relating to our country studies, as well as other major events in the world. Current events keep us plugged into other parts of the world and show how relevant our study is in an ever changing reality. Assignments will vary including some graded written work as well as engaged discussions.


Unit Tests: Unit tests will be a combination of multiple choice, short response and free response questions, which will evaluate the students’ knowledge and prepare them for the AP exam.


Research Paper: Approximately twice each trimester, students will choose a topic on which to write a research paper.  Research papers vary in scope, but will require both analytic reasoning and interpretive practices. These papers must adhere to the following requirements:

  • The student’s name, the class name, teacher’s name, and the date must be in the top right corner of the first page.
  • First person narrative is NOT permitted unless otherwise specified, and papers must be grammatically correct to receive full credit.  Use of slang and contractions is unacceptable.
  • Papers must be typed in font Times New Roman 12pt, with 1 inch margins.
  • The length of the body of the paper must be 6 pages and must be double spaced.
  • The paper MUST have proper citation in Chicago (preferred) or MLA format, including in-text citations or footnotes and a bibliography with at least five scholarly sources.
  • There must be a recognizable thesis statement and argument that is developed and supported throughout the essay.


Midterm Exam: There will be a cumulative midterm exam separate from trimester grades which will count for 10% of your year-end grade. Details will be provided as the exam approaches, but the exam will consist of material covered to that point and will be modeled like the AP exam.


Final Exam: The final exam will be the AP exam, and will not count towards your grade. In lieu of a final exam, there will be a final research project related to topic in global conflict which will count for 15% of your course grade.






Unit 1 – Introduction to Comparative Politics and International Relations



                        What is Comparative Politics?

                        What is International Relations?

                        History of the Development of the Nation-State

                        Contemporary Political History and International Relations Theory

                        States, Nations, and the Individual in the International System


            Assigned Reading:

                        O’Neal Essentials Chapters 1, 2 & 3, pages 1 – 75.

                        Mingst Chapters 1 – 6, pages 1 – 157.

                        Aristotle’s Politics

                        Machiavelli’s The Prince



Unit 2 – The International System



                        International Organizations, NGO’s, and Development

                        International Law

                        Domestic Economic Systems

                        International Economic Systems

                        The Recession and Globalization



            Assigned Reading:

                        O’Neal Essentials Chapters 4 & 5, pages 82 – 146.

                        Mingst Chapters 7 & 9, pages 159 – 195, 233 – 272.

                        Additional Articles



Unit 3 – Democracy



                        Democratic Theory

                        Liberal and Illiberal Democracies

                        Advanced Democracies in Practice

                        The United States – Government, Economy, and Civil Society

                        The European Union – Politics, Economics, and Civil Society

            Assigned Reading:

                        O’Neal Essentials Chapters 6 & 7, pages 147 – 207.

                        O’Neal Cases Chapters 3 & 4, pages 67 – 127.

                        Kesselman Chapter 4, pages 137 – 173.




Unit 4 – Country Study: The United Kingdom



                        Historical Development of the UK

                        Political Institutions

                        Political Conflict and Competition

                        Political Culture and Society

                        Political Economy

                        Foreign Relations and Current Issues


Assigned Reading:

                        Fri, Oct 28, section 1 (pgs 48 – 60)

Tues, Nov 3, section 2 (pgs 61 – 70)

Fri, Nov 6, section 3 (pgs 70 – 79)

Tues, Nov 10, section 4 (pgs 79 – 91)

Thurs, Nov 12, section 5 (pgs 91 – 95)

Fri, Nov 13, review

Mon, Nov 16, UK Exam  


End 1st Trimester – November 20th



Unit 5 – Communism, the Former Soviet Union, and Country Study: Russian Federation



                        Communist Theory – Marx, Lenin, and Mao

                        Communism in Practice

                        The End of the Cold War and the Fall of Communist Regimes

                        Historical Development of Russia

                        Comparing the USSR and the Russian Federation: Political Institutions

                        Comparing the USSR and the Russian Federation: Political Conflict

                        Comparing the USSR and the Russian Federation: Political Competition

Comparing the USSR and the Russian Federation: Political Culture and Society

Comparing the USSR and the Russian Federation: Political Economy

Foreign Relations and Current Issues


            Assigned Reading:

                        Wed, Nov 18, section 1 (pgs 150 – 162)

Fri, Nov 20, section 2 (pgs 163 – 174)

Wed, Dec 2, section 3 (pgs 174 – 185)

Mon, Dec 7, section 4 (pgs 185 – 198)

Wed, Dec 9, section 5 (pgs 198 – 204)

Thurs, Dec 10, review

Fri, Dec 11, Russia Exam



Mon, Dec 14 & Tues, Dec 15, Mid-Term Review


Wed, Dec 16, Mid-Term Exam



Unit 6 – Country Study: The People’s Republic of China



                        Historical Development of China

                        Political Institutions

                        Political Conflict and Competition

                        Political Culture and Society

                        Political Economy

                        Foreign Relations and Current Issues


            Assigned Reading:

                        Wed, Jan 6, section 1 (pgs 356 – 369)

Mon, Jan 11, section 2 (pgs 369 – 378)

Thurs, Jan 14, section 3(pgs 379 – 390)

Tues, Jan 19, section 4 (pgs 390 – 405)

Fri, Jan 22, section 5 (pgs 405 – 410)

Mon, Jan 25, review

Tues, Jan 26, China Exam



Unit 7 – The Islamic Republic of Iran



                        Historical Development of Iran

                        Political Institutions

                        Political Conflict and Competition

                        Political Culture and Society

                        Political Economy

                        Foreign Relations and Current Issues


            Assigned Reading:

                        Fri, Jan 29, section 1 (pgs 310 – 327)

Wed, Feb 3, section 2 (pgs 327 – 335)

Mon, Feb 8, section 3 (pgs 335 – 343)

Fri, Feb 12, sections 4& 5 (pgs 343 – 351)

Wed, Feb 17, review

Thurs, Feb 18, Iran Exam




Unit 8 – The Developing World and Country Study: The United Mexican States



                        The Developing World and Colonialism’s Legacy

                        Politics, Civil Society, Parties, and Economics in Developing Countries

                        Historical Development of Mexico

                        Political Institutions

                        Political Conflict and Competition

                        Political Culture and Society

                        Political Economy

                        Foreign Relations and Current Issues


            Assigned Reading:

                        Mon, Feb 29, section 1 (pgs 210 – 223)

Mon, Mar 7, section 2 (pgs 223 – 231)

Thurs, Mar 10, section 3 (pgs 231 – 237)

Tues, Mar 15, section 4 (pgs 237 – 247)

Fri, Mar 18, section 5 (247 – 251)

Tues, Mar 22, review

Wed, Mar 23, Mexico Exam



End 2nd Trimester – March 3rd



Unit 9 – The Federal Republic of Nigeria



                        Historical Development of Nigeria

                        Political Institutions

                        Political Conflict and Competition

                        Political Culture and Society

                        Political Economy

                        Foreign Relations and Current Issues


            Assigned Reading:

                        Tues, Apr 5, section 1 (pgs 256 – 269)

Fri, Apr 8, section 2 (pgs 269 – 280)

Wed, Apr 13, section 3 (pgs 280 – 289)

Fri, Apr 15, section 4 (pgs 289 – 298)

Tues, Apr 19, section 5 (pgs 298 – 303)

Thurs, Apr 21, review

Fri, Apr 22, Nigeria Exam



Spring Break: March 26th – April 3rd    


Unit 10 – Globalization



                        Economic, Political, and Cultural Globalization

                        Globalization as a Force for Political Change?


            Assigned Reading:

                        O’Neal Essentials Chapter 10, pages 281 – 299.

                        Mingst Chapter 10, pages 273 – 314.

                        Various Articles


Unit 10 Test: None



AP Review:

Mon, Apr 24 – Wed, May 10 will be a period of review in preparation for the AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam which will take place in the morning on Thursday, May 11th.



AP Exam: May 11th (morning)



Unit 11 – Global Conflicts



                        Causes for Conflict within a State

                        War and Strife in the International System

                        Terrorism – Causes and Effects

                        Case Studies:

                                    Palestine and Israel

                                    Sri Lanka

                                    Pakistan and India

                                    The Break-up of Yugoslavia


                                    The Rwandan Genocide




Northern Ireland

N. Korea & S. Korea

Khmer Rouge


Assigned Reading:

            Mingst Chapter 8, 197 – 231.

            Various Articles


Writing Assignment: Final Research Project due week of May 29th   


No Final Exam for the Course.


Final Exams for High School: June 2nd – 6th.


Last Day of School: June 8th.