Spring 2021 - IS 210 D100

Comparative World Politics: Trajectories, Regimes, Challenges (3)

Class Number: 5849

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM



Introduces students to the variety of systems of governance in the world today, examines the historical and cultural sources of their different developmental trajectories, and assesses the challenges they face in the future. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


The aim of this course is to introduce students of international studies to the variety of political regimes and outcomes that are found across the world's regions. Across the globe, the growth of illiberal democracies, the entrenchment of electoral authoritarianism, and the rise of the “Beijing consensus” as an alternative political model have changed the landscape of comparative world politics. Moving beyond the democracy-dictatorship dichotomy, the course will thus compare a number of democratic and authoritarian variants, including flawed democracies, military governments, one-party systems, and hybrid regimes.


Throughout the course, we will explore some of the theoretical accounts of regime formation and regime trajectories that have come to prominence within the comparative politics literature, including the economic, cultural, and institutional determinants of different political systems. We will also investigate particular democratic and authoritarian variants in detail, including the internal dynamics that contribute to their perpetuation or breakdown as well the unique challenges that each type of political system faces. Cases for investigation will be drawn from Latin America, Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.


  • News Reflection 15%
  • Take-Home Midterm Exam 20%
  • Major Essay 25%
  • Take-Home Final Exam 25%
  • Participation 15%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc. Though lectures will be uploaded, discussions will take place synchronously during scheduled class and tutorial times.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



Required readings available on Canvas, online, or in the SFU Library’s electronic collection. 

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).