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Comparative Historical Analysis

Member rate £492.50
Non-Member rate £985.00

Save £45 Loyalty discount applied automatically*
Save 5% on each additional course booked

*If you attended our Methods School in July/August 2023 or February 2024.

Course Dates and Times

Monday 10 ꟷ Friday 14 August 2020
2 hours of live teaching per day
Courses will be either morning or afternoon to suit participants’ requirements

Markus Kreuzer

This seminar-style course provides a highly interactive online teaching and learning environment, using state of the art online pedagogical tools. It is designed for a demanding audience (researchers, professional analysts, advanced students) and capped at a maximum of 12 participants so that the Instructor can cater to the specific needs of each individual.

Purpose of the course

The goal of this course is to give you an advanced understanding of the core elements of comparative historical analysis.

CHA is an umbrella term for a wide range of tools and techniques that scholars have long used to explore a wide range of macro-historical phenomena. Analysing such phenomena poses a distinct set of challenges for standard, more variance-based methodologies, which assume a static and ahistorical world. Those assumptions make it difficult to analyse phenomena like revolutions, waves of democratisation or democratic backsliding, economic crisis, wars, collapse of empires, or, more recently, pandemics.

Analysing such phenomena requires placing time at the centre of analysis to properly understand the temporal dynamics of such changes as well as the qualitative/historical changes that they produce. Consequently, this course aims to:

  • expand your temporal vocabulary
  • improve your ability to explore, describe and conceptualise not yet fully understood or emergent phenomena
  • develop theoretical explanations capable of addressing causal complexity.
ECTS Credits

3 credits Engage fully with class activities
4 credits Complete a post-class assignment

Instructor Bio

Markus Kreuzer is Professor of Political Science at Villanova University. He has worked on the origins of European and post-communist party systems, qualitative methodology and comparative historical analysis.

He teaches a module on comparative historical analysis at the yearly Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research hosted by Syracuse University. Markus is the author of various articles, and the following books:

This course covers three broad topics

First, it conceptually differentiates two distinct notions of time used within CHA. Some CHA scholars focus more on elements of physical time (duration, tempo, timing, sequences) while others concentrate on historical time (focus on events, chronicling, periodisations, concepts, and qualitative changes over time). Our limited temporal literacy makes it difficult to think in those temporal categories. The course therefore engages in a number of exercises asking you to apply those temporal categories to a wide range of phenomena.

Second, it demonstrates the role these two notions of time played in the long tradition of CHA. It underscores how these notions of time require more complex understanding of causality, as well as causal inference strategies, than the one offered by variance-based and experimental approaches. It highlights the role of historical forms of causation, abduction, and process tracing as causal inference strategies most widely used in CHA.

Third, it discusses the methodological contributions of three variants of CHA: 

  • macro-causal analysis (time-spotting and theorising)
  • historical/eventful analysis (concept elucidation, periodisation, qualitative changes)
  • longue durée analysis (time series, trend analysis, natural experiments).

It discusses the distinct role these variants play in the large research cycles that characterise much of the CHA scholarship.

How the course will work online

The course employs a flipped classroom pedagogy. Each of the five daily modules will involve four to five ca. 10-minute pre-recorded lectures (e.g. for a daily total of no more than 60 minutes) as well as a set of readings. The lectures and readings will provide background information for the two daily hour-long discussion-based, synchronous seminars.

The recorded lectures and seminars will be linked together by:

  • brief diagnostic quizzes for each lecture so the Instructor can assess your mastery of the material
  • a discussion board for you to raise questions about lectures and readings
  • individual or group exercises applying the lecture and reading content to actual research problems.

These exercises will be carried out during seminar sessions, when we will also discuss the readings and the lecture material.

If you are already doing (at least) dissertation level research on macro-historical questions, you will be able to use your own projects in lieu of the in-class exercises.

No formal prerequisites. You are unlikely to have had any formal training in CHA because its methodological tools are generally used in an implicit manner.

You will benefit most from this course if you have an interest in history, social or political change, or broad curiosity around the forces transforming our societies. Or, you might be familiar with one or more of the following literatures: comparative political economy, economic sociology/history, democratisation, development of the state, regime changes, origins of the welfare state, social movement, historical sociology, post-colonialism, global migration, gender/race studies, international political economy, security studies, global history.