Student Pages
Undergraduate course

Party Politics in Europe and Beyond

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeSAMPOL230
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester

Fall - irregular

Objectives and Content

Political parties and party systems are key institutions in contemporary democracies. Political parties recruit and socialise political elites, mobilise citizens to participate in politics, articulate popular demands, structure electoral competition, and organize decision-making and represent voters' interests in parliaments and governments. This course aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of whether and how parties perform these functions in contemporary democracies.

The course introduces students to the core concepts and theories in the field of comparative party politics, and provides them with the knowledge about the main developments in the party politics in contemporary democracies. The course is organised into four parts.

The first three parts examine three dimensions of political parties while drawing mainly on experience of Western European democracies. Part I focuses on how political parties are organised internally. Part II examines the way political parties compete for voters' support in elections. Part III investigates the functioning of parliaments and governments and the impact of parties on public policy outcomes.

Part IV of the course goes beyond the national context in Western Europe to examine three dimensions of political parties in young democracies, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, and at the level of the European Union.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student is able to

  • Demonstrate understanding of core concepts relevant to party politics in established democracies in Western Europe and younger democracies in other world regions, particularly Central and Eastern Europe.
  • Show understanding of the theories explaining the key aspects of party politics.
  • Summarise main similarities and differences between parties and party systems in Western European countries and to some extent other regions in the world.
  • Understand the implications of variation in parties and party systems for democratic governance.


The student is able to

  • Evaluate and reflect on everyday developments in party politics using the concepts, theories and empirical knowledge obtained during the course.
  • Understand how various phenomena in party politics can be studied empirically in a systematic way.

General competence

The student is able to

  • Read and evaluate critically research literature on party politics and related fields of comparative politics
  • Build an argument based on the synthesis of existing research and original analysis of empirical data

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge


Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

Open to all students at the University of Bergen

Teaching and learning methods


  • Hours per week: 12
  • Number of weeks: 12


  • Hours per week: 2
  • Number of weeks: 2

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Two short reports on real world political parties that use concepts and theories from the course and one short reflection essay assessing one short report written by peers. Both reports and the reflection essay will be written in small groups.

The approval of compulsory assignments has no time limit.

Forms of Assessment

Students have to deliver a maximum 3000 words paper applying concepts and theories from the course to a selected political party.

Grading Scale

Graded A-F

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester.

Reading List

The reading list will be ready before 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.

Course Coordinator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB.

Course Administrator

The Department of Comparative Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.