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 the 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), three discussion arena essays and posts, and a research paper quest.

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 the United States Eastern Time (ET). Also, please note the Daylight Savings Time change on March 10, 2019.
  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. 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 a 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 a case, obtain written documentation and send a scan to the instructor.
  12. Textbooks and the purchase thereof are the student’s responsibility. Some article readings will be offered as a 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 the 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 the 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 coursework 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 Getting 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 the 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 point)
  • 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. Readings 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.

Final Research Paper Quest

This is the written assignment which consists out of a topic submission, a research proposal submission, and a final research paper submission and—taken together—will determine a very large part of your grade, i.e., 30 points (10 points for the research proposal, 20 points for the final research paper). Students are expected to write a research paper on a European politics topic of their choice, which should have a clear research question, demonstrate research and a critical analysis based on the literature and knowledge gained throughout the course.

  • The final research paper cannot exceed 3,500 words. (Over a 3,500 words would be deductions from the guideline rubric; for some students, the challenge is getting to 3,500 words, for others keeping it to 3,500 words—the paper should not have less than 3,000 words but under no circumstances more than 3,500 words). The page count is secondary—word count determines whether this requirement of 3,000 to 3,500 words is met, but you should expect a paper length about 10-12 pages.
  • Format: Normal margins, 12 pt Times New Roman (or Palatino Linotype) font, double spacing, no extra spaces between paragraphs.
  • Quotations: 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.
  • Topics: The topic has to do either with a topic to do with a country of Western Europe (Ireland, UK, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, BeNeLux, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark) or Western Europe as a region or as integrated with the European Union. The topic has to be of concern though for a comparative analysis, as this is a class about comparative politics; ideally, you will choose two countries to compare a trend or political phenomenon, for example.
  • Submit Your Choice of Final Research Paper Topic via Assignment Dropbox by the due date (a title for your topic and one simple sentence to explain is enough for me to give feedback whether it is a viable, relevant topic).
  • Here are some recommendations for your paper research process:
    • It is advisable to choose a comparative topic with two (max. three) countries for your paper research. The paper also writes itself more easily, if you have sections describing the politics in two countries and then go on to compare them in a third part. If you wish to focus on one country and you are certain you can write twelve pages on the subject without comparing it to a similar dynamic in another country, you are welcome to focus on just one country, too.
    • Research a variety of credible sources (Green library catalogue: books & journals, electronic journals accessible through the library website, careful online search: quality newspapers (create a news alert with New York Times!), politics think tanks, official governmental documents) and supply at least five sources
    • To build a good structure, start with a research question which you try to answer. Then provide an introduction, an analytical main part (Who? What? When? Why? What could be done?), and a conclusion with your ‘expert’ opinion.
    • Conduct a grammar check before submission (+ no repetitions; analytical language)
  • Research Proposal/Paper Outline: Before you submit and work on your 10-12-page final research paper, you are required to submit a two- to three-page research proposal/paper outline, containing three (3) bibliographical sources that are annotated with explanatory notes (which basically means that you summarize the source in question in a few sentences). This research proposal/paper outline is worth 10 points. I will check-in with you several times as the submission due date approaches and I recommend for you to contact me via email about your topic, or set up an office hour appointment.
  • For creating the research proposal/paper outline: Consider which country/ies and which contemporary Western European politics-related topic is of interest to you. Papers in the past dealt with terrorism, immigration, unemployment, church-state relations, parties in Western Europe, the impact of the Euro-crisis, nationalism, Europe’s role in the world, the impact of the Syrian migration crisis, the impact of Brexit, etc. Opting for a comparative approach, make sure to compare two, max. three countries. You will get feedback from me on your proposal/outline shortly after you hand it in (so if you want feedback earlier, also submit this assignment accordingly ahead of the deadline). Afterward, you may start writing and research then, taking the feedback into account.
  • The ideal three-page research proposal/paper outline will look like this: Page 1 is a table of contents where you present the anticipated outline of your 10-12 page final paper (1. Introduction 2. Main part: [your chosen topic] 2.1 ... 2.2 ... 2.2.1 ... etc.); Page 2 is a one-page research proposal which explains the topic, countries chosen, research question, approach, and anticipated findings a little bit more in-depth (compared to the topic submission); Page 3 is the annotated bibliography with three sources. An annotated bibliography is basically a list of three sources (in this case) and after each of those sources, you write about three to five sentences/a paragraph on the content of the source. Here is a link to a website explaining more about annotated bibliographies: This research proposal is meant to ensure that you are on track for the final research paper and have a concrete plan with some initial research and source search completed. Also, this will provide you with further feedback.
  • Final Paper: The final research 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 research 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.
  • View the rubric within the Research Paper dropbox.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Discussion Arena Posts:

  • January 24, 2019 (Thursday) - First discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm ET.
  • January 28, 2019 (Monday) – First discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm ET.
  • February 21, 2019 (Thursday) - Second discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm ET.
  • February 25, 2019 (Monday) – Second discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm ET.
  • April 18, 2019 (Thursday) - Third discussion arena, essay & discussion question due by 11:59pm EDT. (Daylight Savings Time; make sure you have changed your clocks, or to note the changed time difference if you are taking this course remotely from a country without DST).
  • April 22, 2019 (Monday) – Third discussion arena, two participation replies due by 11:59pm EDT.

Reading & Concept Challenges:

  • February 4, 2019 – First online reading & concept challenge (Quiz) due by 11:59pm ET.
  • March 25, 2019 – Second online reading & concept challenge (Midterm) due by 11:59pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time; make sure you have changed your clocks, or to note the changed time difference if you are taking this course remotely from a country without DST).
  • April 29, 2019 – Third online reading & concept challenge (Final) due by 11:59pm EDT.


  • March 25, 2019 - Final Research Paper Topic due by 11:59pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time; make sure you have changed your clocks, or to note the changed time difference if you are taking this course remotely from a country without DST).
  • April 1, 2019 - Research Proposal and Paper Outline due by 11:59 EDT.
  • April 15, 2019 – Final Research Paper due by 11:59pm EDT.

University Deadlines:

  • January 14, 2019 – Add/Drop period ends
  • January 21, 2019 – Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
  • March 11 - March 16, 2019 – Spring Break Holiday (University open, no classes)
  • March 18, 2019 – Last Day to Drop Course with a DR grade
  • April 22 - April 27, 2019 – Finals’ Week
  • May 2, 2019 – Grades available on by 9:00am


Course Requirements Number of Items Points
Discussion Arena Participation (10 points each) 3 30
Reading & Concept Quiz Challenge 1 10
Reading & Concept Midterm Challenge 1 10
Paper Outline/Research Proposal Quest 1 10
Research Paper Quest
1 20
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 Due