Party Politics in Europe and Beyond



Mål og innhald

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.


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

Studiepoeng, omfang


Studienivå (studiesyklus)



Autumn - irregular
Krav til forkunnskapar
Tilrådde forkunnskapar
Krav til studierett
Open to all students at the University of Bergen
Arbeids- og undervisningsformer


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


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

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.


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

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

The exam can be submitted in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Graded A-F  

Assessment in teaching semester.

Re-take exams are arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 of the Study Regulations at UiB. If a retake exam are arranged for students with valid absence, students with the following results can also register:

  • Interruption during the exam
  • Fail/Not passed

If you qualify for the retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence, you can register yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester. 
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  
Administrativt ansvarleg
The Department of Comparative Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.