Comparative Politics and China >> Content Detail



This graduate seminar has two main objectives:

  1. To explore the main theoretical, empirical, and methodological approaches to the study of Chinese politics.
  2. To relate these approaches to the broader field of comparative politics.

What sorts of phenomena are generally studied in Chinese politics, and how are they studied? How could they be better studied? What has Chinese politics contributed to the field of comparative politics, and vice versa? What are the most effective ways to integrate area studies, broader comparative approaches, and theory? This course aims to prepare graduate students for dissertation proposals and subsequent research on China.


Students are assumed to have completed an intro-level course on the history and politics of China (i.e., 17.547 at MIT, Gov. 1280 at Harvard, etc.).

  1. All students are required to write three brief critiques (5 pages) that compare, contrast, and integrate the readings for a given week. Students may pick the weeks they wish to focus upon.  The critiques at minimum should specify the causal arguments being made, and identify alternative explanations. The critiques are due at the beginning of the session for which they are written. No extensions will be granted.
  2. All students are required to write a research prospectus (15 pages) on a topic of their choice.  This assignment is intended to prepare students for the dissertation prospectus and grant proposals.  The prospectus will outline the phenomenon to be researched, posit a causal explanation and alternatives, and relate the topic to the existing literature. Students will present their work orally at the end of the term.



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