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Advanced methodology course: Comparative Methods - From the Local to the Global

global studies / International Development Studies / International Public Administration and Politics / Politics and Administration / Public Administration
master course
Teaching language

You register for activities through stads selvbetjening during the announced registration period, which you can see on the Study administration homepage.

When registering for courses, please be aware of the potential conflicts and overlaps between course and exam time and dates. The planning of course activities at Roskilde University is based on the recommended study programmes, which should not overlap. However, if you choose optional courses and/or study plans that goes beyond the recommended study programmes, an overlap of lectures or exam dates may occur depending on which courses you choose.

In case of too few registrations, the course will be cancelled.

Detailed description of content

Conducting comparisons is an integral part of almost all research. This course allows participants to master different comparison strategies, and provides insights into the advantages and disadvantages of various methods for comparisons on different analytical levels. These skills should help participants improve the research design of their master theses or projects.

Participants are introduced to both basic as well as advanced tools for conducting political comparisons including (but not limited to) single-country comparisons; few country comparisons; many countries comparisons; counterfactual and before/after comparisons; deductive comparisons; inductive comparisons; most similar case comparisons; most different case comparisons; the nested approach for comparisons, and fuzzy sets comparisons.


− Knowledge of core concepts in comparative methods. − Knowledge of key research designs using comparative methods.


− Skills in choosing the most useful comparative method given the research question − Skills in applying comparative methods and tools to a concrete research theme.
− Skills in categorizing different methods based on advantages and disadvantages.


− Competencies to cooperate with peers in the application of different comparative methods in relation to relevant research areas. − Competencies to take responsibility for own learning by independently elaborating a comparative methodological plan for larger research projects.

Expected work effort (ects-declaration)

Class teaching: 20 (5 double sessions (4 hours each)) Active involvement: 25 (student exercises) Preparation: 60 (6 hours per double session) Examination: 30 (reading up and the actual exam) Hours - total: 135

Course material and reading list

Bjørnskov, C. (2007). Determinants of generalized trust: A cross-country comparison. Public choice, 130(1-2), 1-21.

Ebbinghaus, B. (2005). When Less is More Selection Problems in Large-N and Small-N Cross-National Comparisons. International sociology, 20(2), 133-152.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative inquiry, 12(2), 219-245.

Healy, K. (2017). Fuck nuance. Sociological Theory, 35(2), 118-127.

Plümper, T., Troeger, V. E., & Neumayer, E. (2019). Case selection and causal inferences in qualitative comparative research. PloS one, 14(7).

Landman, T. & Carvalho, E. (2017) Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics An Introduction, 4th Edition. Abingdon: Routledge. Chapter 1: Why compare countries, 3-28; Chapter 2: How to compare countries, 29-56; Chapter 3: Comparing many countries, 57-71; Chapter 4: Comparing few countries, 72-85; Chapter 5: Single-country studies as comparison, 86-96. Chapter 6: Economic Development and Democracy, 97-129; Chapter 7: Violent political dissent and social revolution, 130-156; Chapter 8: Non-violent political dissent and social revolution, 157-179; Chapter 9 Transitions to Democracy, 180-207; Chapter 10: Institutional Design and Democratic Performance, 208-229; Chapter 11: Human rights, 230-254; Chapter 12: International Relations and Comparative Politics, 255-274; Chapter 13: Common themes and different comparisons, 275-291.

Lieberman, E. S. (2005). Nested analysis as a mixed-method strategy for comparative research. American Political Science Review, 99(03), 435-452.

Lijphart, A. (1971). Comparative politics and the comparative method. American political science review, 65(03), 682-693.Political Science Review, 99(03), 435-452.

Mahoney, J. (2007). Qualitative methodology and comparative politics. Comparative Political Studies, 40(2), 122-144.

Messerli, F. (2012) Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates, The New England Journal of Medicine, p. 1-3

Ragin, C. C. (2009). Redesigning social inquiry: Fuzzy sets and beyond. University of Chicago Press., pp. 1-68

Rohlfing, I. (2008). What You See and What You Get Pitfalls and Principles of Nested Analysis in Comparative Research. Comparative Political Studies, 41(11), 1492-1514.

Seawright, J., & Gerring, J. (2008). Case selection techniques in case study research a menu of qualitative and quantitative options. Political Research Quarterly, 61(2), 294-308.

Snyder, R. (2001). Scaling down: The subnational comparative method. Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID), 36(1), 93-110.

Tarrow, S. (1996). Making social science work across space and time: A critical reflection on Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work. American political science review, 90(02), 389-397.

Thomas, G. (2011). A typology for the case study in social science following a review of definition, discourse, and structure. Qualitative inquiry, 17(6), 511-521.

Evaluation- and feedback forms

There will be an opportunity to get oral feedback on the exercises and discussions in class.

Participants can expect to have collective feedback on the written exams (as whole), as well as the opportunity for oral feedback in person for the individual written exams.

Administration of exams
ISE Studyadministration (ise-studyadministration@ruc.dk)
The responsible course lecturer
Olivier Rubin (rubin@ruc.dk)
Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

Knowledge and understanding:

Knowledge and understanding of academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods and their application and relevance on an advanced level

Being able to communicate and discuss academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented studies in a type of language that is correct, clear, professionally accurate, well-structured and well-argued

  • Skills:

    Carrying out studies and analyses with the aid of academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods

  • Evaluating and selecting methods from research-related and professional practices

  • Competences:

    Co-operation with colleagues in the application of various academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods and forms of analysis in relation to relevant issues in research-related and professional contexts

  • Reflection on one’s own learning and taking responsibility for one’s own professional development

Overall content
  • Research and professional premises for academic and scientifically based practice-oriented analyses

  • Approaches to the use of academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented tools in research and professional contexts, respectively

Prerequisites for participation
Currently no data from curriculum.
Prerequisites for participation in the exam
Currently no data from curriculum.
Teaching and working methods

Lectures, exercises, student presentations, peer feedback and discussions. The course requires that the students contribute and participate actively.

Type of activity

Elective course

Form of examination
Individual written take-home assignment given by the lecturer.

The character limit of the assignment is: maximum  14,400 characters, including spaces.
The character limit includes the cover, table of contents, bibliography, figures and other illustrations, but exclude any appendices.

The duration of the take-home assignment is 48 hours and may include weekends and public holidays.

Assessment: 7-point grading scale.
Form of Re-examination
Samme som ordinær eksamen
Exam code(s)
Exam code(s) : U40915
Last changed 22/04/2021

lecture list:

Show lessons for Subclass: 1 Find calendar (1) PDF for print (1)

Thursday 28-10-2021 08:15 - 28-10-2021 12:00 in week 43
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Thursday 04-11-2021 08:15 - 04-11-2021 12:00 in week 44
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Thursday 11-11-2021 08:15 - 11-11-2021 12:00 in week 45
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Thursday 18-11-2021 08:15 - 18-11-2021 12:00 in week 46
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Thursday 02-12-2021 08:15 - 02-12-2021 12:00 in week 48
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 12-01-2022 10:00 - Friday 14-01-2022 10:00 in week 02
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global - Exam (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 16-02-2022 10:00 - Friday 18-02-2022 10:00 in week 07
Comparative Methods: From the Local to the Global - Reexam (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)