Course Syllabus

CPO3103: Politics of Western Europe

Dr. Lukas K. Danner

Best Way to Contact Me: Canvas Inbox
Office Hours: By Appointment

Course Description and Purpose

This course is a comparative introduction to the governmental systems and current political issues in Europe, with a concentration on Western Europe. The focus will be on a selection of European states and the European Union (EU) as overarching integration project. Through a comparative approach, domestic politics and policymaking, structures and functions of political institutions and political transitions will be analyzed with particular attention to political culture, governance and political parties. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to understand the historical legacies in Western European politics, analyze current Western European political trends through a theoretical (comparative) lens, as well as explain the impact of transnational issues on Western European domestic politics as well as EU integration. Students will be assessed by three reading & concept challenges (a quiz, a midterm and a final), four discussion arena essays and posts, and a co-curricular activity report.

This class counts toward the FIU’s European Studies Certificate and is also a Gordon Rule core curriculum course, which means that you will be expected to write extensively through a number of assignments.

Course Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the basic common history of European nations.
  2. Identify different political system in (Western) Europe.
  3. Describe and compare European political systems.
  4. Discuss topics directly related to important questions about Western European politics
  5. Analyze current Western European political trends through a theoretical (comparative) lens
  6. Explain the impact of transnational issues on singular Western European nations
  7. Use college-level research and writing skills when formulating complex arguments.

Course Awards

Quality Matters
This certification mark recognizes that this course met Quality Matters review standards.

Affordability Counts
This course has been awarded the Affordability Counts Medallion. The Affordability Counts initiative at FIU seeks to make learning more affordable by reducing the cost of course materials to $60 or less. Find out more by visiting the Affordability Counts website at

Important Information

Before starting this course, please review the following pages:

Additional Course Policies

  1. All times and deadlines are given in United States Eastern Time (ET).
  2. No incompletes are given.
  3. No make-up opportunities are given.
  4. For discussion arena and final research paper: Late submissions will result in point penalties according to this rule: one day late = -10 %, two days late = -20 %, three days late = -30 %, etc.
  5. For online reading & concept challenges in Respondus LockDown Browser: reading & concept challenges will be open for one week (first & second) and five days (third), respectively. Once the reading & concept challenge closes at the deadline, it will not be re-opened for you and it will irrevocably count as a zero, if you did not take it before the deadline.
  6. Copying from the textbook or cutting and pasting sections from websites or other reference materials or presenting someone else’s ideas as your own is plagiarism and will not be tolerated and will result in zero (0) points for that assignment. Please review the FIU Plagiarism Prevention Guide.  In addition, all work submitted must be original for this class.
  7. This class will utilize the Turnitin originality software—integrated with the LMS.
  8. Papers that are not properly cited will be issued a zero. 
  9. If the instructor is unable to open an attachment, it must be resubmitted within 48 hours or the assignment will be issued a zero.
  10. Always check the uploaded attachment is correct.  After the deadline passes, the content submitted will be used for grading.
  11. Medical emergencies can generally not count as excuses for not submitting assignments, taking tests or posting essays/replies. This is because the assessments (whether they be discussion arena posts, online reading & concept challenges, or written assignments) are open for several days, sometimes weeks each and therefore you will have much leeway in deciding when to take an reading & concept challenge, or submit an assignment. The only exception would be a truly grave medical emergency/accident in which you are hospitalized for several days or weeks. In such case, obtain written documentation and send a scan to instructor.
  12. Textbooks and the purchase thereof are the student’s responsibility. Some article readings will be offered as download online. Any readings from the assigned textbooks will not be made available for download.
  13. There is no extra-credit in this class.
  14. Appointments: I welcome students to contact me by email with questions or email me to make an appointment with me to meet on campus (MMC, for South Florida residents) or via Skype (for remote students).
  15. The instructor reserves the right to modify this syllabus should the need arise.

Adobe Connect Lectures

This class will use Adobe Connect for pre-recorded lectures.

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Proctored Exam Policy

This course does not require proctored exams.

Textbook and Course Materials

European Politics Book-1.jpg
European Politics: A Comparative Introduction (Comparative Government and Politics)
Tim Bale
Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd Edition, 2013
ISBN-10: 023036294X
ISBN-13: 9780231125918
This textbook is required to be obtained by the student and will not be provided by instructor.

(ca. $50 new - Price at the FIU Bookstore)

Europe Today Book-1.jpg
Europe Today: A 21st Century Introduction
Ronald Tiersky & Erik Jones
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 5th Edition, 2014
ISBN-10: 1442221100
ISBN-13: 9781442221109
This textbook is required for the course, but you do not need to purchase it. It is available online free of charge via FIU Libraries (this page says 4th edition but the eBook is the 5th edition; the library is aware of the discrepancy and is working on correcting the catalog page). From that page, you should select “FIU users: view content here” - if off-campus, you will be asked to sign in for off-campus access using your regular FIU credentials - then from the EBL page, you should select “Login through your Library.” Lastly, you should click “Read Online (Available).” 

(ca. $76 new; ca. $50 used; ca. $62 kindle - Prices on

Expectations of this Course

This is an online course, meaning that most of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same as for a traditional course; in fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills that can make them more demanding for some students.

Students are expected to:

  • Review the how to get started information located in the course content
  • Introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self-introduction in the appropriate discussion forum
  • Take the practice quiz to ensure that your computer is compatible with Canvas
  • Interact online with instructor(s) and peers
  • Review and follow the course calendar
  • Log in to the course several times per week
  • Respond to discussion arenas by the corresponding deadline
  • Respond to emails within three days
  • Submit assignments by the corresponding deadline

The instructor will:

  • Log in to the course several times per week
  • Respond to discussion arenas within three days
  • Respond to emails within 1 business day
  • Grade assignments within four days of the assignment deadline

Course Communication

Communication in this course will take place via the Canvas Conversations Inbox.

Visit our writing resources page for more information on professional writing and technical communication skills.

Discussion Arenas

Keep in mind that your discussion arena postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.

The first part of this assignment is posting your own response to each quest and corresponding reading on Canvas’s “Discussion Arena.” Questions that you may respond to after reading are going to be provided in the heading of the discussion arena. The discussion arena that corresponds to each quest will be opened shortly after the quest becomes available. Your response should be between 300 and 350 words long, be structured like an essay, and ideally show reference to the studied quest and readings. At the end of your essay, please provide a question for further discussion that your classmates may reply to in the second part of this assignment. This first part of the assignment is graded with a rubric.

The second part of this assignment is reading and replying to the discussion posts of two of your peers. So after you have posted your own, original response in the first part of the assignment (reading others’ discussion posts is disabled until you post your own), you need to reply to, at least, two (2) discussion posts of your classmates: This will contribute to the discussion character of this task. This second part of the assignment is graded and included in the rubric.

This assignment corresponds to our quests in the course content and the assigned reading to it. So, for each quest, there will be a discussion feature. There will be as many discussions as there will be class quests. We may use Turnitin to check the originality of your posted essay. If you borrow material, identify the sources via proper citation. Your essay post must answer the question(s) provided to guide you in this assignment. Your posts will be graded in the order that they are submitted. Opinions and examples are valuable to your posts but you need to show that you have read the assigned reading and class quest.

Items to consider when writing your discussion:

  • Relevance to assigned material: the posted ideas indicate that the student has read the assigned material.
  • Clarity and coherence.
  • Critical thinking: there is evidence that the student has adequately analyzed, synthesized, and evaluated the assigned material.
  • Your discussion includes a question for further discussion on the topic. The posting articulates a question for discussion that pertains to the assigned material.
  • Spelling, grammar: the posting must meet university-level standards of spelling and grammar.
  • Length: the initial posting for each discussion post essay must be between 300 and 350 words.
  • Guidelines: First submit your essay (ca. 300 words), then separately submit your discussion question, and then proceed to look at your peers posts and reply to at least two different peers’ questions/react to their essay.
  • Please note: You will not be able to see what your peers have posted prior to submitting your initial post (essay). This is to ensure originality and no copy-paste/filibustering mentality. Should your first post be an empty post (to circumvent this initial blocking view of others’ posts), it will count as zero (0) points.
  • Late submission is subject to the deduction policy specified above under “Policies.”


  • Student clearly and coherently answers the question posted (1 point)
  • Student posts a question for further discussion (1 point)
  • Student includes theoretical concepts for discussion (2 points)
  • Student includes explanations on the application of the concepts (4 points)
  • Student uses University-level standards for spelling and grammar and professional demeanor (1 points)
  • Student answers to peers’ discussion questions with two replies (1 point)


There will be THREE ONLINE READING & CONCEPT CHALLENGES (with Respondus Lockdown Browser).

Assessment Expectations:

  • Complete the three online reading & concept challenges (Quiz, Midterm & Final) within this course
  • Relevant material for reading & concept challenges are PowerPoints, Lectures, and—first and foremost—assigned required readings. Reading which are merely recommended are not directly relevant as reading & concept challenge material—unless they have been mentioned, summarized or introduced via lectures or quests, for example (nevertheless, you do not have to read them but just know what was mentioned about them, if they came up in lectures/quests).
  • The reading & concept challenges are cumulative, meaning that they cover all material previously learned, though they have a focus on the material learned after the last test.
  • Reading & concept challenges will consist of multiple-choice questions.
  • The assessment duration is 60 minutes for the quiz and midterm, 120 minutes for the final.
  • If you access the reading & concept challenge last minute then you will not receive the full amount of time on the challenge. Therefore, it is recommended to take the reading & concept challenge the latest two hours before the deadline. Please note that the assessment will close permanently after the deadline, so starting it late is not possible.
  • Result details:
    • Students will be able to see their results after the availability period has ended (i.e. all of the questions and answers).
  • The expected turn-around time for grades on online reading & concept challenges is immediately after the submission deadline.

Respondus Lockdown Browser

  • Review the Respondus LockDown Browser Instructions on how to install, access your assessments and view your grades.
  • After installing the browser, please take the Practice Quiz to familiarize yourself with the testing environment and to ensure that you have downloaded the Respondus Lockdown Browser correctly.

Co-Curricular Activity Report Quest

Students will be required to experience or attend a co-curricular activity or event, visit a museum exhibition, or watch a movie with relevance to Western European politics during the course of the Summer B semester, but no later than July 20. The instructor will announce eligible activities for this assignment to students on a regular basis—the choice is the student’s what in particular they would like to undertake. It has to be related to politics, though, and in case the student is unsure, contact the instructor. Whichever co-curricular activity is undertaken, a one to one-and-a-half page (1 - 1.5 page) (350-450 words) report is required to be written by  the student describing their co-curricular experience (summary), how they feel about it (personal opinion), and how it relates to this class (academic relevance). Submission is within one week of attending the co- curricular event, however, no later than the July 20th deadline (whichever comes first), through a Turnitin Dropbox. This assignment will count for fifteen points of your class grade of 100  points.

  • The co-curricular activity report cannot exceed 450 words. (Over 450 words would be deductions from  the guideline rubric; the paper should not have less than 350 words but under no circumstances more than 450 words). The page count is secondary—word count determines whether this requirement of 350 to 450 words is met, but you should expect a paper length about 1 - 1.5  pages.
  • Format: Normal margins, 12 pt Times New Roman (or Palatino Linotype) font, double spacing, no extra spaces between paragraphs.
  • Quotations: Likely you will not need quotation as you are using your own words to paraphrase an experience. If you do want to quote, please stick with one quotation type, choose the one you feel most comfortable with/you are used to, i.e., either MLA, or APA, or Chicago, or Turabian—but stick with it/be consistent.
  • Activity Choice: The co-curricular activity has to do either with a topic to do with a country of Western Europe (UK, Germany, France, Italy, BeNeLux, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the Nordic countries) or the EU as a whole.
  • Final Report: The co-curricular activity paper is due through the Turnitin dropbox on the Modules section of Canvas. This means it will be checked whether it is original in terms of compared to the world-wide  web, scholarly outlets, and reviews submitted with Turnitin—but also compared to your peers in this   class. This is an individual assignment and you must work on it by yourself, i.e., it cannot be identical or similar to another student’s submitted paper.
  • Late submission is subject to the deduction policy specified above under “Policies.” However, 10 days  after the initial deadline submission will close permanently and no further late submission will be  possible after that date.
  • Grading timeframe is about one week after the submission  deadline.
  • Review the detailed Turnitin Instructions on how to submit your assignments and how to review the Grademark comments (feedback) from your professor.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Discussion Arena Posts:

  • June 26, 2018 (Tuesday) - First discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm ET.
  • June 28, 2018 (Thursday) – First discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm ET.
  • July 3, 2018 (Tuesday) - Second discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm ET.
  • July 5, 2018 (Thursday) – Second discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm ET.  
  • July 10, 2018 (Tuesday) - Third discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm ET.
  • July 12, 2018 (Thursday) – Third discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm   ET.
  • July 17, 2018 (Tuesday) - Fourth discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm ET.
  • July 19, 2018 (Thursday) – Fourth discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm   ET.

Reading & Concept Challenges:

  • July 2, 2018 (Monday) – First online reading & concept challenge (Quiz) due by 11:59pm   ET.
  • July 16, 2018 (Monday) – Second online reading & concept challenge (Midterm) due by 11:59pm ET.
  • July 27, 2018 (Friday) – Third online reading & concept challenge (Final) due by 11:59pm   ET.


  • July 20, 2018 (Friday) – Co-Curricular Activity Report due by 11:59pm  ET.

University Deadlines:

  • June 25, 2018 – Add/Drop period ends
  • July 4, 2018 – Independence Day (University closed, no classes)
  • July 16, 2018 – Last Day to Drop Course with a DR  grade
  • July 27, 2018 – Last Day of Classes
  • August 2, 2018 – Grades available on My FIU by 9:00am


Course Requirements Number of Items Points
Discussion Arena Participation (10 points each) 4 40
Reading & Concept Quiz Challenge 1 10
Reading & Concept Midterm Challenge 1 15
Co-Curricular Activity Report Quest 1 15
Reading & Concept Final Challenge 1 20
TOTAL 8 100


Letter Range Letter Range Letter Range
A 95 or above B 83 - 86 C 70 - 76
A- 90 - 94 B- 80 - 82 D 60 - 69
B+ 87 - 89 C+ 77 - 79 F 59 or less


Course Summary:

Date Details