The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Zeynep Somer-Topcu


Assistant ProfessorPh.D., University of California, Davis

Zeynep Somer-Topcu

Contact

  • Phone: 512-232-7209
  • Office: Batts 3.124
  • Office Hours: T-Th 2-3:30pm

Interests


Comparative political parties, comparative voter behavior, elections, representation

Biography


Zeynep Somer-Topcu is an assistant professor in the Department of Government. Her research and teaching interests include party politics, voter behavior and perceptions, election results, and representation. Her main focus is on Western Europe, though her research often extends to other advanced industrial democracies. Her work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative PoliticsComparative Political Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Journal of Politics, and Party Politics. She is currently working on a series of projects examining how parties' position-taking strategies and particularly how their election campaign strategies affect voters perceptions of party policies.

Somer-Topcu is the co-winner of the Emerging Scholar Award given by the American Political Science Association section on Political Organizations and Parties in 2013. She also received the Jack Walker Outstanding Article Award in 2013 for her coauthored article “Government versus Opposition at the Polls” (coauthored with Kathleen Bawn) given by the APSA section on Political Organizations and Parties. Her coauthored article “Is Anybody Listening?” (coauthored with James Adams and Lawrence Ezrow) was awarded the American Journal of Political Science Best Article Award in 2012. This latter award is given by the Midwest Political Science Association to the best paper published in the American Journal of Political Science in the previous year.

 

Courses


GOV 324L • Govs & Polit Of Western Europe

38670 • Fall 2017
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM BUR 208
(also listed as EUS 350)

GOV324L/  EUS 350

Government & Politics of Western Europe

Fall 2017

BUR 208

M-W 2:30-4pm

 

Professor: Zeynep Somer-Topcu, PhD

zsomer@utexas.edu

Office:  BAT 3.124

 

Introduction

 

This course provides students with a general introduction to the political institutions, voter behavior, and issues in West Europe. The objective is to equip students with a broad overview of the politics and political systems of Western Europe, as well as on concepts, methods, and tools to understand and analyze contemporary developments. The course is organized thematically (rather than in a country-specific way) around a framework that emphasizes the political determinants and policy consequences of institutional differences.

 

We will start the course with a short overview of the countries and the history of Europe. We will then look at political institutions in Europe, and briefly discuss the European Union. Toward the end of the course we will discuss West European voters, their political behavior, and important issue areas and policies in Europe.

 

Course Requirements:

 

Class participation       5%

Three short papers       10% (each)

Two Midterms            20% (each)

Final Exam                  25%      

 

Attendance

 

Attendance is NOT required. However, the exams will heavily rely on what we will discuss in class. I make the power-point slides available after class (on Canvas). However, there are more details beyond the slides we will discuss in class, and you will be responsible of those details in the exam. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to come to class.

 

Class Participation (5%)

 

Class participation is different from attendance. Throughout the course students are encouraged to raise questions and relevant discussion topics in class, and expected to contribute to class discussions. Students are expected to do the assigned readings before we discuss the topic in class, and arrive at class ready to discuss the readings.

 

Note that I make a distinction between attendance and participation. Attending every class, without ever speaking up or turning these assignments, does not constitute participation. If you do so, you will receive 60 points (D-) for this part of the class. To receive more credit for participation, students are required to ask questions, raise issues, express opinions, etc. regarding the topics covered.

 

Short papers (10% each):

 

There are seven topics with deadlines scattered throughout the semester. You have to choose three of these topics and write short papers. These short papers should not be longer than 6 pages (double-spaced), or shorter than 3 pages (double-spaced), excluding the title page and the bibliography.

 

In these assignments, you will provide the facts about the question asked. However, you can receive full grade only if you provide a critical analysis for the question. You have to have a bibliography part and show your research. Wikipedia is not accepted as a scholarly citation.

 

You can work in groups for these assignments but your write-up must be original and demonstrate your unique point of view.

 

Please check out the deadlines to submit the papers below on the class schedule, and decide which dates work best for you before signing up.

 

Midterm Exams (20% X 2) and Final Exam (25%)

 

Each exam will be a combination of multiple-choice questions, short or bullet-point answer questions, and a few long (one-page) essays. The final exam may also have one long essay (2-3 pages long). If you foresee problems with the exam dates, see me after class, during office hours, or contact me by e-mail at least two weeks before the assigned dates.

 

Required Text:

 

The following book is available for purchase at the bookstore:

 

Gallagher, Laver and Mair. 2011. Representative Government in Modern

Europe: Institutions, Parties, and Governments. McGraw Hill. 5th Edition. (Make sure you have the correct edition)

 

There will also be required news articles or editorials assigned for each class period. These will be based on the current events for the topic under discussion. We will post them on Canvas on Fridays before each week.

 

There will be additional required articles/chapters for some classes. These readings are denoted with an asterisk (**) in the syllabus, and will be available on Canvas in advance. 

GOV 391K • Scope And Meths Of Polit Sci

38980 • Fall 2017
Meets W 9:30AM-12:30PM BAT 5.102

GOV 391K: Scope and Methods

Fall 2017

BAT 5.102

W 9:30-12:30pm

 

Professor: Zeynep Somer-Topcu, PhD

zsomer@utexas.edu

Office:  BAT 3.124

 

Introduction

 

This course provides an introduction to a range of political science theoretical and methodological approaches. We will cover a lot of ground in this course in order to familiarize you with the field’s scope and methods, and allow you to master at least some subset of these approaches. We begin by discussing foundational issues in the study of political science. We will then discuss issues related to causal inference. Finally we will survey a variety, yet by no means exhaustive, list of approaches to the study of political science. 

GOV 324L • Govs & Polit Of Western Europe

38615 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 216
(also listed as EUS 350)

GOV324L: Government & Politics of Western Europe

Spring 2017

BUR 216

T-Th 9:30-11am

 

Professor: Zeynep Somer-Topcu, PhD

zsomer@utexas.edu

 

Office: BAT 3.124

Office hours: T-Th 2:30pm-4pm, or by appointment

 

Introduction

 

This course provides students with a general introduction to the political institutions, voter behavior, and issues in West Europe. The objective is to equip students with a broad overview of the politics and political systems of Western Europe, as well as on concepts, methods, and tools to understand and analyze contemporary developments. The course is organized thematically (rather than in a country-specific way) around a framework that emphasizes the political determinants and policy consequences of institutional differences.

 

We will start the course with a short overview of the countries and the history of Europe. We will then look at political institutions in Europe, and briefly discuss the European Union. Toward the end of the course we will discuss West European voters, their political behavior, and important issue areas and policies in Europe.

 

Course Requirements:

 

Class participation      5%

Three short papers     10% (each)

Two Midterms            20% (each)

Final Exam                25%      

 

Attendance

 

Attendance is NOT required. However, the exams will heavily rely on what we will discuss in class. I make the power-point slides available after class (on Canvas). However, there are more details beyond the slides we will discuss in class, and you will be responsible of those details in the exam. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to come to class.

 

While attendance is NOT required, I would like to strongly emphasize the following two points:

-       Given that some of you may be on the other side of the campus for an earlier class, you can be a few minutes late to the class. However, you should not be late to class for more than a few minutes (unless there is a exceptional circumstance like an exam, which should be notified in advance). Please do not be late and disturb the class.

-       You are NOT allowed to leave the class early. If you must leave early this can happen only once or twice during the semester. You must let me know in advance and can only leave within the last 10 minutes of the class.

 

Class Participation (5%)

 

Class participation is different from attendance. Throughout the course students are encouraged to raise questions and relevant discussion topics in class, and expected to contribute to class discussions. Students are expected to do the assigned readings before we discuss the topic in class, and arrive at class ready to discuss the readings.

 

Note that I make a distinction between attendance and participation. Attending every class, without ever speaking up or turning these assignments, does not constitute participation. If you do so, you will receive 60 points (D-) for this part of the class. To receive more credit for participation, students are required to ask questions, raise issues, express opinions, etc. regarding the topics covered.

 

I reserve the right to occasionally call your name to discuss a topic or answer a question.

 

Short papers (10% each):

 

There are seven topics with deadlines scattered throughout the semester. You have to choose three of these topics and write short papers. These short papers should not be longer than 6 pages

(double-spaced), or shorter than 3 pages (double-spaced), excluding the title page and the bibliography.

 

In these assignments, you will provide the facts about the question asked. However, you can receive full grade only if you provide a critical analysis for the question. You have to have a bibliography part and show your research. Wikipedia is not accepted as a scholarly citation.

 

There will be a sign-up sheet on my door (the date will be announced). Please come and sign up for three topics. There are limited slots available for each topic. If you do not sign up for a specific topic, you will be randomly assigned to three topics.

 

You can work in groups for these assignments but your write-up must be original and demonstrate your own point of view.

 

 

Midterm Exams (20% X 2) and Final Exam (25%)

 

Each exam will be a combination of multiple-choice questions, short or bullet-point answer questions, and a few long (one-page) essays. The final exam may also have one long essay (2-3 pages long). If you foresee problems with the exam dates, see me after class, during office hours, or contact me by e-mail at least two weeks before the assigned dates.

 

Required Text:

 

The following book is available for purchase at the bookstore:

 

Gallagher, Laver and Mair. 2011. Representative Government in Modern

Europe: Institutions, Parties, and Governments. McGraw Hill. 5th Edition. (Make sure you have the correct edition)

 

There will also be required news articles or editorials assigned for each class period. These will be based on the current events for the topic under discussion. We will post them on Canvas on Fridays before each week.

 

There will be additional required articles/chapters for some classes. These readings are denoted with an asterisk (**) in the syllabus, and will be available on Canvas in advance. 

GOV 365N • Eur Union/Regional Integrtn

38789 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 301
(also listed as EUS 348)

GOV365N: European Union/ Regional Integration

Spring 2017

PAR 301

T-Th 12:30-2:00pm

 

Professor: Zeynep Somer-Topcu, PhD

zsomer@utexas.edu

 

Office: BAT 3.124

Office hours: T-Th 2:30pm-4pm, or by appointment

 

Introduction

 

From the European Coal and Steel Community of six countries, the European Union has grown to be composed of 27 member states. It is governed by an ever-growing and strengthening set of political institutions. Member states share common economic and social policies, a common foreign and security policy, and (for some member states at least) a common currency, the Euro. They are also together suffering through the current economic recession.

 

This course provides students with a general introduction to the politics, history, governing structure, and policies of the European Union. The course begins with an overview of the theories and the evolution of European integration. We will then look at how the EU is governed, and where the power lies. Finally, we will survey important European-level policies and issues, and conclude with a discussion on the future of the EU.

 

By the end of the semester, students should be familiar with:

 

a)     The history of the European Union starting with the early history after the World War II and the developments throughout the years from the European Community of six countries to the European Union of twenty-seven.

 

b)    The main theories and conceptual approaches used to explain and make sense of the European integration process.

 

c)     The composition, structures, and functioning of the main EU institutions (the European Commission, the Councils, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Justice)

 

d)    The European elections to the European Parliament and the democratic deficit problem

 

e)     The European Union policies and its areas of regulation from agriculture to monetary policies and foreign policies of the European Union.

 

Course Requirements:

 

Class participation:                  5%

In-class quizzes x2                  10% each

In-class midterm exam            25%

In-class debate                       20%

Final exam                              30% 

 

Attendance

 

Attendance is NOT required. However, the exams will heavily rely on what we will discuss in class. I make the power-point slides available after class (on Canvas). However, there are more details beyond the slides we will discuss in class, and you will be responsible of those details in the exam. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to come to class.

 

While attendance is NOT required, I would like to strongly emphasize the following two points:

-       Given that some of you may be on the other side of the campus for an earlier class, you can be a few minutes late to the class. However, you should not be late to class for more than a few minutes (unless there is a exceptional circumstance like an exam, which should be notified in advance). Please do not be late and disturb the class.

-       You are NOT allowed to leave the class early. If you must leave early this can happen only once or twice during the semester. You must let me know in advance and can only leave within the last 10 minutes of the class.

 

Class Participation (5%)

 

Class participation is different from attendance. Throughout the course students are encouraged to raise questions and relevant discussion topics in class, and expected to contribute to class discussions. Students are expected to do the assigned readings before we discuss the topic in class, and arrive at class ready to discuss the readings.

 

Note that I make a distinction between attendance and participation. Attending every class, without ever speaking up or turning these assignments, does not constitute participation. If you do so, you will receive 60 points (D-) for this part of the class. To receive more credit for participation, students are required to ask questions, raise issues, express opinions, etc. regarding the topics covered.

 

I reserve the right to occasionally call your name to discuss a topic or answer a question.

 

Two Short-Quizzes (10% each)

 

This is a course with a lot of factual information on European politics and the European Union. There will be two in-class short quizzes that will check your facts. These quizzes will NOT be cumulative. Each quiz will be composed of multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and bullet point questions, and last about 30-45 minutes (at most) at the beginning of the assigned class period.

 

If you are late to the class you will NOT be given extra time to complete the quiz. Make-up quizzes will not be offered except in extremely rare circumstances. These extremely rare circumstances require a doctor’s note or a note from the Dean’s office. If you have an unanticipated emergency that causes you to miss the exam, contact me as soon as possible.

 

Midterm exam (25%)

 

The exam will have two parts: the first half of the exam will be like the first quiz and test your facts since the first quiz (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, bullet point questions). The second part of the exam will be composed of one-page essays and will cover all the material since the beginning of the class. The exam date is listed in the schedule below. If you foresee problems with the exam date, see me after class, during office hours, or contact me by e-mail before the assigned dates.

 

Make-up exam will not be offered except in extremely rare circumstances. These extremely rare circumstances require a doctor’s note or a note from the Dean’s office. If you have an unanticipated emergency that causes you to miss the exam, contact me as soon as possible.

 

In-Class Debates (20%):

 

Each student, as a member of a team, will be responsible for debating one of the topics from the list below. A sign-up sheet for the debate teams will be made available in the second week of the classes. If you do not sign up you will be randomly assigned to a group.

 

Debates are of the form “yes/no”, where one side supports an initiative or idea and the other side does not. There will be three students in each debate team. After you sign-up for a topic, I will randomly assign you to the “yes” or “no” side of the debate.

 

You are expected to do the background preparation necessary to be informed about your topic and to address questions from the debate moderator and audience. Each team will receive a grade given the group’s debate performance. In addition, each student will receive a grade based on his/her solo presentation performance. Your final debate grade will be calculated using these two separate grades.

 

Final exam (30%)

 

The details of the final exam will be made available later in the semester.

 

Required Text:

 

The following book is available for purchase at the bookstore:

 

Cini, Michelle, Nieves Perez-Solorzano Borragan. European Union Politics. Oxford University Press. 5th edition (2016). ISBN : 9780198708933

 

There will be additional required articles/chapters for some classes. These readings are denoted with an asterisk (**) in the syllabus, and will be available on Canvas in advance. 

GOV 365N • Comparative Political Parties

38004 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CBA 4.340

GOV 365N: Comparative Political Parties

Professor: Zeynep Somer-Topcu

zsomer@utexas.edu

Office: BAT 3.124

 

 

Course Objectives and Outline:

Political parties are central actors mediating voters’ policy preferences and political outcomes.

Therefore, their role in the practice of modern liberal democracy cannot be underestimated. As

Robertson (1976) states, “to talk, today, about democracy, is to talk about a system of

competitive political parties.”

In this upper-level seminar, we will explore the vast literature on comparative political parties,

party systems, elections, and representation.

The course is scheduled into four parts. The first and longest part (covering the first seven

weeks) is about understanding parties and party systems. We will answer questions like where

parties come from, why we see different party systems, how parties are organized, how these

party organizations have changed, and how and why parties adopt certain ideologies. The final

lecture in this section will examine the dominant party systems. Professor Kenneth Greene, who

is an expert on dominant party systems will guest lecture for that class.

The literature on electoral systems and their consequences for parties, party systems, and

representation is vast and still growing. We will, therefore, spend a few lectures to understand

the details of different electoral systems from across the world and their consequences for

parties, party systems, and representation. Professor Robert Moser will share his expertise on

mixed electoral systems and their consequences with us in another guest lecture.

We will then have one class on the details of representation. Professor Christopher Wlezien, who

is an expert on representation in the US, will discuss the classical approaches to and more recent

work on the quality of representation in the US.

In the final part of the class we will focus on the “new” parties in established democracies. Since

the late 1970s we have been witnessing the rise of “niche” parties both on the left (green parties)

and on the right (anti-immigration parties). We will answer the questions of how the

establishment of new and ideologically extreme political parties threatens the more established

parties in advanced democracies, and how the mainstream parties respond to this threat.

 

Requirements:

Class attendance: 5%

Class participation: 10%

Discussion questions: 10%

Two short-essays: 15% each

Midterm: 20%

Final paper: 25%

 

Required Readings:

There are no required books for this class. I will post the readings (chapters or articles) required

for each week on Canvas by the end of Thursday the previous week. If you would like to have

access to the readings before Thursday the week before the lecture, please email me, and I will

email you the readings.

You must bring the readings to the class for the in-class discussion.

Curriculum Vitae


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    The University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st ST STOP A1800
    Batts Hall 2.116
    Austin, TX 78712-1704
    512-471-5121