Political Science 341

POSC 341
Western European Government and politics

Catalog Entry

POSC 341. Western European Government and politics. (CG)
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: POSC 231

Political structures and functioning of selected Western European political systems. Emphasis on such major powers as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany and on the European Union and the prospects for continuing political integration.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The purpose of this course is to have students explore the political development and political institutions of selected Western European countries, and to develop an understanding of their political systems and the major political issues currently facing them. Topics will be approached from a comparative, international perspective. Topics from this group will be included:

I. Introduction

A. Why Study Comparative Politics?
B. Why Study Western Europe?
C. Comparative Politics: Scope & Methods

II. The Politics of Historical Stability: Britain & the Scandinavian Kingdoms.

A. Great Britain

1. Foundations

a. History: Development of British Parliamentary Democracy
b. British Education & Society
c. The British Political Culture
d. The British Class Structure

2. British Parliamentary Government

a. Organization
b. Functioning
c. A Comparative Perspective

3. British Political Parties & Interest Groups
4. The Common Law and Jurisprudence
5. Prospects for British Politics

a. Current Problems

1) Economic
2) Social
3) Welsh & Scottish Nationalism
4) Northern Ireland

b. The Outlook


B. Scandinavia

1. Historical Background
2. Scandinavian Social Democracy

a. Functioning & Organization
b. Prospects

III. Politics In the French Fifth Republic

A. Foundations

1. History: Development of French Democracy
2. French Society
3. The French Political Culture
4. The French Class Structure

B. Institutions & Administration

1. The Structure of French Government
2. The French Bureaucracy
3. Jurisprudence

C. French Political Parties & Interest Groups
D. Prospects for French Politics

IV. Politics in the German Federal Republic

A. Foundations

1. History: German Autocracy in the Past
2. The Reunification of Germany
3. German Society
4. The German Class Structure

B. Institutions & Government

1. The Basic Law
2. German Federalism
3. German Government

C. The German Political Culture

1. Participation
2. Toward a "Democratic" Political Culture?

D. Prospects for Germany

V. Italy: The Politics of Instability

A. Political Institutions
B. Political Parties and Elections
C. Prospects

VI. The European Union

A. History & Developments
B. The European Union at present

1. the emerging economic union
2. geographic expansion and the prospects for future enlargement
3. the current extent of political union
4. prospects for continued political integration


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A lecture format will be combined with informal class discussions.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students completing the course successfully will have acquired:

  • A knowledge of the political development and political institutions of selected Western European countries.
  • An understanding of major contemporary political issues in Western Europe.
  • Background for understanding future political developments in Western Europe; including future development of the European Community.


Assessment Measures

Graded assignments may include in-class tests, a final examination, quizzes, the assignment and oral and/or written presentation of reports on current-events topics in Western Europe, and class preparation and participation.


Other Course Information

Readings from current newspapers and news magazines may be assigned, in addition to the required text(s).


Review and Approval

Februrary 1999 Revised to reflect changes in course content M. J. Franck, Dept. Chair