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PLS 350

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Office: Old Main 333
Phone: 360-438-4588


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PLS 350
Government and Politics of Western Europe
Saint Martin's University
Course Syllabus

Dr. Richard L. Langill   Fall 2015
email:      Office: Old Main 333
Office Hrs: MWF 8-9 and 10-11 TR 10-11

Purpose of the Course
The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to contemporary European politics. Most students have some appreciation and understanding of the American political system. However, they have little knowledge about the political systems of Europe. This course seeks to fill this gap by providing a basis for comparing various governmental institutions and political process in their historical, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts.

This course will focus on the political systems of Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. The course will examine the factors that have influenced the development of each of these systems, their political culture and socialization, political structures, electoral dynamics, political parties, interest groups, and political problems.

Course Requirements
This course will be primarily a lecture course with discussion strongly encouraged. The instructor expects students to keep up with the reading so they will be able to participate more actively in these discussions.


All students will be required to keep a global issues journal in his class.  This journal will focus on current newspaper articles related to the countries that we will cover in this class -

The instructor expects that students will find two articles per week for inclusion in this journal.  Students should obtain these articles from newspapers or current periodicals.  Students have a choice of either clipping these from a newspaper like the New York Times or photocopying these and pasting them in the journal, or they may download these directly from the web, and prints them for inclusion in the journal. (The instructor has provided a list of good academic journals that are available through EBSCO on the SMU Library network.
  Links to international newspapers are listed below for your information:

New York Times
Washington Post
Christian Science Monitor
The BBC (British Broadcasting Co)
International Herald Tribune
The Independent (London).
The Times.
The Financial Times.
Frankfueter Allgemeine Zeitung
Le Monde Diplomatique
Agence France-Presse.
The Economist

Moscow Times
Russia Now.
Spiegel On Line

Munich Times

Grading Policy
There will be TWO EXAMINATIONS and a JOURNAL required of all students in this course. Each examination will count 25% of you total grade. The journal will also count 25%; class discussion and class participation will constitute the final 25% of the grade. The grades for this course will be calculated as follows:

Mid Term Exam  =100 points (25%) A= 400-360
Final Exam =100 points (25%) B= 359-320
European Journal =100 points (25%) C= 319-280
Participation/ Discussion =100 points (25%) D= 279-240
    400 points  F= 239-200

I consider attendance to be an important part of this course. Excessive absences will be penalized. Students who miss more than 3 classes for any reason will be penalized one half of a letter grade (20 points); students who miss more than 5 classes will be penalized one letter grade (40 points). This policy will be strictly enforced.

Required Textbooks:
            M. Donald Handcock  et. al. Politics in Europe 6th  Ed. 2014 (PIE) 

Aug 24 Introduction (1)
Aug 26-31 Historical Background (3)
      (PIE)  pgs 1-31
Lecture Outline-British Historical Background
Lecture Outline- British History Since WW II
Sept 27 30 Political Parties and Elections (2)
     (PIE)   pgs 59-81
Lecture Outline- British Political Parties
Biographies- David Cameron  Ed Miliband  and Nick Clegg
Sept 9-11 Political Institutions (2)
    (PIE) pgs 32-56
Lecture Outline- British Political Institutions-Executive
Lecture Outline- British Political Institutions- Parliament
Sept 14 Film: Question Period in the House of Commons
Sept 16 Contemporary Problems (1)
     (PIE) pgs 82-104
Lecture Outline:  British Political Problems
Sept 18 Films on the United Kingdom
Sept 21-25 Historical Background (3)
     (PIE) pgs 109-121
Lecture Outline- French Political History
Sept 28-30 Parties and Elections (2)            
     (PIE)  pgs  147-184
Lecture Outline- French Political Parties
Oct 2-5 Political Institutions (2)                   
     (PIE) pgs  185-195
Lecture Outline:  French Political Institutions
Oct 7 Films on France
Oct 9 Contemporary Problems (1)
     (PIE) pgs 196-208
Lecture Outline: French Political Problems
Oct 16-19 Historical Background (3)
     (PIE) pgs 213-234
Lecture Outline: German Historical Background
Lecture Outline: Post-War German History
Oct 21-23 Political Parties and Elections (2)
     (PIE)  pgs 255-280
Lecture Outline: German Political Parties
Political Profile:  Angela Merkel
Political Profile:  Gerhard Schroeder
Oct 26-28 Political Institutions (2)
     (PIE)  pgs 237-253
Lecture Outlines: German Political Institutions
Oct 30 German Political Problems (1)
         (PIE)  pgs 282-307
Lecture Outline:  German Political Problems
Nov 2-4        (PIE) pgs 623-702
Nov 6-9 Historical Background (2)
     (PIE)  pgs 501-518
Lecture Outline: Russian Historical Background
Lecture Outline Gorbachev Era
Nov 13 Movie on Gorbachev years
Nov 16-18 Political Parties and Elections  (2)
     (PIE) pgs 532-543
Lecture Outline: Russian Political Parties
Nov 20 Movie: "Return of the Czar."
Nov 23-25 Political Institutions   (1)
     (PIE)  pgs 519-530
Lecture Outline: Russian Political Institutions
Nov 30-Dec 2 Russian Political Problems (1)
    (PIE)  pgs 544-562
FINAL EXAM  As Scheduled by Registrar

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