Undergraduate Courses

POLI 212: Government and Politics of the Developed World

This course is an introduction to fundamental comparative politics concepts and research that focuses on Europe and North America. Comparative politics is a subfield of political science that focuses on the domestic politics of individual countries, not on the interaction among countries in the international arena. Topics covered include: state and state institutions, regimes, form of government, parties and party systems, elections, protest, rule of law, corruption, and regime transitions—democratization and autocratization. You can expect to come away from this course with a solid background in the main concepts and themes in the literature on the politics of Europe and North America. The course will prepare you for advanced courses in European and North American politics, as well as for advanced courses on the substantive themes covered in this course, but focusing on different regions.
DOWNLOAD FALL 2023 syllabus

POLI 330: Law and Courts in Europe

This course is an introduction to judicial politics in Europe. We will examine the conceptual, theoretical, and empirical foundations of the study of the rule of law and the role of courts in European politics. The conceptual discussion will focus on the elements of the rule of law doctrine, the multiple definitions of judicial independence, and the judicialization of politics. We will also cover the dominant theories of the emergence and sustainability of independent courts and the trend towards judicial empowerment. The empirical examples provided will be very diverse: contemporary and historical European experiences, Western and Eastern European states, democratic, authoritarian, and post-authoritarian regime settings, and constitutional and ordinary judiciaries. The aim of the course is for students to come away with both a strong theoretical understanding of how civil law systems function, as well as some concrete factual knowledge of institutional configurations and salient issues in a broad range of European countries.
DOWNLOAD WINTER 2021 syllabus

POLI 331: Politics in East Central Europe

30 years after the collapse of communism, the Central European countries, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania have completed their “return to Europe” by joining the European Union and NATO.The other Balkan countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo) are heading along the same trajectory, albeit at different paces.In this course, we will explore the unprecedented “triple transition” in national identities, political institutions, and economic systems that resulted from the breakdown of the Communist regimes in the Soviet Bloc. Some of the questions which this course will address include: Why did Communism collapse? What was the most effective way to transition from a command to a market economy? Why did inter-ethnic strife accompany the breakdown of Yugoslavia, but not Czechoslovakia? Have the transition and consolidation of democratic regimes in the region been completed? Did the EU play a decisive role in the consolidation of democracy in East Central Europe and the Balkans? Are Central European democracies backsliding into authoritarianism? The course will combine due attention to the milestones of post-communist trajectories in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and a survey of theoretical attempts to explain various facets of the “triple transition.”
DOWNLOAD WINTER 2020 syllabus

POLI 451: The European Union

This is a course on the politics of the European Union. It will start with a brief history of European integration ideas and then examine in some detail EU’s institutions and their effects on domestic politics in EU’s current and would-be member states. The theoretical and conceptual focus will be on the process of Europeanization of domestic European politics, rather than on the inter-governmentalism, i.e. relations between states, that motivated earlier studies of European integration. In other words, this is more of a comparative politics course, than an international relations course.
DOWNLOAD FALL 2018 syllabus

Graduate Seminars

POLI 612: Research Methods in Political Science

This course is meant to introduce graduate students to some of the methodological issues, debates and choices that structure the discipline of political science. The course draws on: a. canonical literatures on political methods (our methodological scripts), b. literatures in the philosophy and theory of science, and c. literatures in other disciplines that have influenced our methodological development, such as the identification problem’s origins in economics, or political ethnography’s relation to anthropology, or the relationship of the problem of induction to Humean philosophy.

Throughout the course, our goal is to identify some of the conceptual and theoretical issues (‘the theory of method’) that arise from the methodological choices we make in our research.

The sequence of methods courses in the department provide detailed, direct ‘hands-on’ treatment of quantitative and qualitative research designs and techniques. POLI 612 is designed to provide broader, largely non-technical background, through tracing the methodological development of the discipline of political science and identifying some of its most pressing methodological questions.
DOWNLOAD FALL 2022 syllabus

POLI 629: Post-Communist Transformations

Over thirty years after the collapse of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, the successor states have evolved into vastly different polities. In this course, we explore the simultaneous transformation of national identities, political institutions, economic systems, and geopolitical relationships that resulted from this systemic breakdown. While due attention will be paid to the main historical developments, the focus is on book-length theoretical and comparative attempts to explain the developmental trajectories upon which the post-communist states embarked. With few exceptions, all required and recommended readings are comparative and/or transnational in focus.

POLI 639: Mixed Methods Research in European Studies

This course has three main goals: 1) to introduce students to mixed methods research approaches and their philosophical foundation; 2) to help students learn how to execute these methods through analysis of examples from the European politics literature; 3) to provide an opportunity for students to generate their own mixed methods research design, which could become the basis of their thesis work.
DOWNLOAD WINTER 2020 syllabus

POLI 659: Interdisciplinary Seminar in European Studies

This course presents graduate students with the opportunity to explore cutting-edge research in contemporary European studies. It is built around the Jean Monnet Centre Montreal fall speaker series at McGill, for which students will read guest presenters’ work ahead of time and serve as discussants. Students in this course will either develop their own research papers (+ write one short paper) or write 3 short papers, which can serve as comps preparation for anyone taking the comparative politics comp and selecting EU or Eastern Europe as one of the regions. Although this is the core course for the European Studies Option, any graduate student with an interest in European studies is welcome to enroll.
DOWNLOAD FALL 2022 syllabus
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Prof. Maria Popova
McGill University
855 Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal, Quebec
H3A 2T7

Copyright © 2023 Alex O'Neill.