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Pages for AUM's Master of International Relations at Maxwell AFB.
Summer '05 Course, POLS6350, Area Studies: Western Europe.
Section 1322 (3), Wednesday evenings, Summer 2005.
Index | Chapter Questions | Question Bank | Syllabus | Timetable | more
revised 1 June 2005 by Jeremy Lewis.
Summary of course content:
  • comparison of institutions and processes of major liberal democracies in Western Europe. 
  • development of European Union 
  • special emphasis on political concepts and theories in social democracies. 
  • current political and economic developments in Europe
  • comparison and contrast with processes, institutions and values in the United States. 
In this course you will explore those advanced industrial political systems most comparable to the US: West European politics, public policy and institutions. You will find in Steiner's book topical and comparative analysis of West European governments generally, with (in Wilson's text) case studies of British, French, Italian, Swedish and German government which present interesting contrasts with American politics. You will learn through texts and video documentaries about the development of the European Union, perhaps spotting some similarities with dilemmas the American Founders faced two centuries ago. You must also expect to discuss current international affairs, such as a European crisis or a referendum, or European attitudes to US foreign policy. 

Thus you will experience both the modern comparative, topical and supranational approaches with the traditional country-by-country method. You should by the end of the course understand Western European social democratic states and their values; and how the European system is constantly changing over time. 

The style of the course will be a reading-based seminar with students contributing essays, presentations and a research paper. 


  • Midterm essay test
  • Final comprehensive essay exam
  • Term paper of 15-20 standard pages in APSA citation style
  • Class participation (discussion, presentations, outlines)
  • In summer course format, these count about equally
(Latest available editions may be substituted).
1. Steiner, Jurg. 1998. European Democracies, Fourth Edition. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman. (Entire.) Steiner gives a lively explanation of the contrasts in political values and practice found in Europe, and compares them with those found in the USA. 

2. Wilson, Frank L.  1999. European Politics Today: The Democratic Experience.  3/e.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.  A well-written, incisive country-by-country analysis of major developed nations and the European Union. 

3. Curtis, Michael (ed) The Great Political Theories, vols I and II.  NY: Discus /Avon. (Political science companion reader, useful in all Dr. Lewis's Political Science classes.) Selected readings.

Recommended Media Sources:

Watch the BBC World News (currently weeknights on PBS at 2330 - midnight), and on cable TV the House of Commons debates on Access /C-SPAN Sunday evenings. You should also surf into Europe on the World Wide Web (see my web page of comparative politics sources).

Recommended readings, great for term papers:
Some articles may be placed in ring binder marked Lewis, on AUM library reserve.

  • Castle, Francis G. and Diane Sainsbury. 1990. "Scandinavia: The Politics of Stability", Part VI of Roy C. Macridis, ed. Modern Political Systems: Europe. Seventh Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Economist Newspaper, selected topical surveys and briefings.  From the premier global newspaper.
  • Hancock, M. Donald (ed). 1998. Politics in Western Europe. Second Edition. NY: Chatham House. (Entire.) Hancock is lively, inexpensive and up to date; it provides country-by-country analysis in a standard format, emphasizing themes rather than dry factual material. More introductory, not as analytical as Wilson, but with broader coverage. From a team of country specialists.
  • Kesselman, Mark, Joel Krieger, et al. European Politics.  A more critical and theoretical approach to European politics, from an American team at Columbia University and Wellesley College.
  • Wiarda, Howard J. 1993. Introduction to Comparative Politics: Concepts and Processes. Belmont CA: Wadsworth.  Excellent upper-level introduction to the issues and techniques of comparison. 

  • Wiarda, Howard J. European Politics in the Age of Globalization.  Harcourt. A more critical and theoretical approach to European politics, by a leading comparative scholar.