840018 :Comparative Political Institutions


Voertaal Engels
Werkvorm: Dialogue lectures (Collegerooster)
Tentamenvorm: Written exam, 2 papers (Tentamenrooster)
Studielast:6 ECTS credits
Inschrijving:Inschrijven via Blackboard voor aanvang colleges
Blackboard informatieLink to Blackboard (Als u de melding 'Guest are not allowed in this course' krijgt, dient u nog bij Blackboard in te loggen)


dr. G. Leenknegt

Doel van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

After completing the course “Comparative Political Institutions” students are able to:

-          understand and explain the meaning and relevance of the concepts of Rule of Law, Rechtsstaat, Separation of Powers, Constitutionalism, and Democracy in relation to state power;

-          understand and explain the theoretical models with respect to the typical forms of state, systems of government, and legal systems;

-          recognize these basic concepts and models within existing political systems in the world today, notably (but not exclusively) the American, French, German, British, and Dutch systems;

-          use these theoretical concepts and models to develop an analytical framework for systematically comparing state institutions between different countries in the modern world;

-          practice in searching various sources of legal information (constitutions, legislation, case law, books, journals, newspapers, internet) to characterize specific countries on dimensions of state institutions;

-          discuss and evaluate the pros and cons of executive, legislative, and judicial institutions, and demonstrate a sensitivity to paradoxes and trade-offs;

-          construct convincing political and legal arguments;

-          critically follow and reflect upon politics in the daily news, through background information of national differences in political institutions and a better understanding of the processes and dilemma’s posed by these.

Inhoud van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

The course consists of two main parts. Constitutional democracies have a number of important characteristics in common, such as a legal system based on the rule of law, and mechanisms for the separation and containment of political power. In the first part (lectures 1-7) we examine these general principles, structures, and concepts. We will study the political institutions of a number of constitutional democracies. We focus on their composition, their functions, the powers they wield, and the relations that exist between them. We will discover that political systems are different in numerous respects. As they say ‘many ways lead to Rome’, and equally, the political institutions in which constitutional democracies take shape, and their powers, vary greatly. For a comparative approach of political institutions in the modern world, we will depart from the assumption that there are a number of issues or problems regarding the containment of political power every political system has to deal with. The organization of the state, its political institutions, and the legal concepts and structures they are based on, have to provide answers to those fundamental questions.

The second part (lectures 8-12) will concentrate on current or recent developments with regard to the themes mentioned above. We we look at the development and functioning of political institutions in countries such as South Africa, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Turkey, and relate our findings to the theories and models we discussed in the first part of the course.

The assessment for this course will consist of two short papers (25% each) and a written exam (50%).

Bijzonderheden (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

For non-LAS students the number of places in this course is limited. For registration, please contact Tessa Leesen (t.g.leesen@tilburguniversity.edu) three weeks prior to the start of the course.

Verplichte literatuur

  1. There is no handbook or fixed list of reading materials for this course. Being able to find relevant sources and literature is one of the aims of this course. A helpful book however is A.W. Heringa, Constitutions Compared, Intersentia, London, 2016. It contains the basic content of most of the themes dealt with in this course, as well as the texts of a number of constitutions.

Gewenste voorkennis

Introductory course in law

Vereiste voorkennis


Verplicht voor

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Law in Europe ( 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 )