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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rachel A Cichowski
POL S 566
Seattle Campus

Comparative Law and Politics

Study of the interaction between law and politics, at both the macro and micro levels of politics, and discussion of research drawing from a wide array of geographical settings. Examination in comparative context of whether macro-structures are autonomous from underlying social structures of power and interest in the micro-level.

Class description

The interaction between law, courts and politics is increasingly gaining attention amongst comparative politics and international relations scholars. Similarly, public law scholars are opening their eyes to the world beyond the United States and the U.S. Supreme Court. This graduate course, comparative law and politics, is targeted at PhD students who are interested in studying the intersection between law, courts and politics in comparative and international perspective. Drawing from public law, comparative politics, international relations and law & society literatures, we will critically examine the alleged utility of various theories and methodology for conducting research on comparative legal systems and institutions.

The course will cover the interaction between law and politics, at both the macro and micro levels, and will discuss research drawing from a wide array of geographical settings. In particular, this comparative exploration will examine the question of whether macro-structures, such as law and courts, are autonomous from an underlying social structure of power and interests – the micro level. We will explore this question by looking at the role of courts in political processes in various national legal systems, as well as at the supranational and international level. Further, we will examine in comparative perspective the impact of factors “from below,” such as social movement activism in shaping political and legal outcomes.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Seminar Discussions

Recommended preparation

Texts: Various texts and articles.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: Students will be required to write a final research paper (15-20pp.) and to present a preliminary draft in class. Students will also be required to lead two class discussions during the quarter and write short essays on the readings (3-4pp).

Grading: Research Note/Papers: 65 %; Essays and Presentation: 20 %; Participation/Discussion: 15 %.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Rachel A Cichowski
Date: 01/07/2010