Curriculum / Enseignements

Curriculum / Enseignements2017-09-07T19:31:25+00:00

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All coursework takes the form of reading and discussion seminars, held in the autumn term. Attendance is mandatory. Reading and research seminar topics may change from year to year. Finalized seminar offerings for the year to come are posted in early May.

Methodology Seminar

(6 ECTS) – Marc Smyrl, Eric Savarese

This seminar provides an overview of a variety of research methods and approaches, as well as practical direction for preparation of the Master’s thesis. The general focus of the seminar is on the practical aspects of designing and carrying out comparative research, from formulating hypotheses and evaluating qualitative and quantitative evidence through strategies and methods of writing for the social sciences. This is complemented by a series of thematic modules presented by resident and visiting faculty highlighting a variety of theoretical approaches and practical methods.

Assistance in French or English language, including presentation and translation skills, is provided for students requiring it in the context of this seminar.

In addition, the seminar may offer opportunities for participation in one of the CEPEL’s ongoing research projects.

The seminar culminates in the production of a theoretical overview paper of approximately 7,500 words due at the end of January. Drawing from the material presented in the reading, research, and methodology seminars, this paper provides both a synthesis of the student’s progress and a preliminary theory and methods chapter of the Master’s thesis.

Reading Seminars

(3 x 6 ECTS)

Reading seminars are structured around an extensive bibliography and meet for three hours every two weeks.  They provide a thorough grounding both in the intellectual history and the contemporary state of the art of their respective sub-fields.  Grading is based on participation and the preparation and diffusion of précis and critical reviews.

Elites, States, and Regimes – William Genieys and Saïd Darviche

Examines the interaction between social and political elites, state power, and policy-making in a variety of political regimes, with particular emphasis on France, Spain, and the United States. Beginning with a comprehensive survey of the literature in the sociology of elites, the seminar leads to a comparative assessment of the role of elites in policy reform and regime change. Social policy and national defense provide contrasting sectoral cases this investigation.

Institutions and Public Policy – Marc Smyrl

Presents an in-depth study of the descriptive and analytical tools developed by researchers studying policy making and implementation since the 1970s. Emphasis is on three dimensions of comparison: among the tools themselves, among policy sectors, and finally among various national and supra-national policy systems. France, the Unites States and the European Union are the principle cases considered.

Constructing and Contesting Nation States – Jean Joana and Christophe Roux

Analyzes the role of various social and professional groups in the building, consolidation,; and contestation of contemporary nation states, with a geographical focus on southern Europe.  The approach is at once comparative and historical.  Emphasis is placed on the role of the armed forces and of territorialy-based parties and movements.

External Seminars

(2 ECTS)

These courses are presented in cooperation with other academic programs located in Montpellier.  Two will be offered for the 2016-2017 academic year.  All students choose one.


Environment and Politics — presented in collaboration with the CIRAD-Montpellier


Health Policies and Actors — presented in collaboration with the MA program of the University of  Montpellier :  School of Medicine.

Collective Research Colloquium

(2  ECTS)

The research colloquium complements the more theoretical portions of the curriculum by exposing students to a variety of models and approaches to practical research through the presentation of ongoing projects.  Internal and external faculty participate in this seminar, sharing with students both the conclusions and the practical aspects of their own recent work.  Evaluation is based on preparation and active participation.


Master’s Thesis

(30 ECTS – approximately 30,000 words – due June 15)

Based on the student’s original research, the Master’s thesis is the ultimate outcome of a project approved by the program director and carried out under the supervision of a thesis director chosen by the student. The thesis paper should pose a clear scientific question and propose to it an answer that is an original contribution to the literature on the topic.

Thesis direction is intended as a year-long tutorial and mentorship, with regular meetings between the director and student. All members of the political science faculty are available as thesis directors. In addition, a member of the program’s external faculty may serve as a director if appropriate.