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Comparative Historical Analysis (CHA)

Course Dates and Times

Date: Monday 5 – Friday 9 February 2024
Duration: 3 hours of live teaching per day
Time: 09:30 – 12:30 CET

Daniel Ritter

Stockholm University

This course will introduce you to Comparative Historical Analysis (CHA) through a combination of lectures and discussions. Teaching will be interactive and centre on a mix of theoretical foundations, practical solutions, and dissection of key works in the tradition. The course cap is set to 16 students in order to foster a suitable environment for discussions and to ensure that attention can be given to each individual student.

Purpose of the course

By the end of this course, you will have a firm grip on what Comparative Historical Analysis is, how one goes about “doing” comparative history, and detailed knowledge of several key works in the tradition.

Upon completing the course, you will be able to design a comparative historical study in terms of posing relevant research questions or puzzles, identifying suitable sources of evidence, and weaving history and theory together into coherent and plausible explanations.

ECTS Credits

4 credits - Engage fully in class activities and complete a post-class assignment

Instructor Bio

Daniel Ritter is Associate Professor of Sociology at Stockholm University, specializing in revolutions and social movements.

He received his doctoral training at the University of Texas at Austin and has held postdoctoral positions at the European University Institute in Florence and at Stockholm University.

Prior to returning to Stockholm University in 2016, he was Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.

He is the author of The Iron Cage of Liberalism: International Politics and Unarmed Revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (Oxford University Press, 2015), Social Movement and Civil War: When Protests for Democratization Fail together with Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker, Bogumila Hall, and Emin Poljarevic (Routledge, 2018), and On Revolutions: Unruly Politics in the Contemporary World, co-authored with Colin Beck, Mlada Bukovansky, Erica Chenoweth, George Lawson, and Sharon Nepstad (Oxford University Press, 2022). In 2017, he was the recipient of Stockholm University's "Award for Good Teaching."

Key topics covered


Introduction to Comparative Historical Analysis: Origins, logics, and exemplars.


Key aspects of Comparative Historical analysis: Process tracing, path dependency, and theory building.


First book seminar.


Second book seminar.

Friday morning

The comparative historical research process: A practical guide.

How the course will work online

At the risk of sounding cliché (or, even worse, flaky), Comparative Historical Analysis is in many ways more than a method – it is an approach to understanding and analysing the social world. Furthermore, it is a craft. Unlike many other methods, there is thus no set of skills and techniques that, once mastered, will allow a researcher to do comparative historical analysis. Rather, each practitioner of the method must learn from the great “exemplars” that constitute the method’s canon.

Consequently, the course will combine live, interactive morning lecture that emphasize theoretical and practical components of the method. The first two seminars will each dissect a comparative historical masterpiece that all participants will have read before the beginning of the course. The final seminar will explore the comparative historical projects of the participants and wrap up the course.

No particular previous knowledge is required, although students should come to the course having already read the course material and ready to fully engage it. It will be assumed that students who have registered for the course have an interest in historical processes and theory building, both of which are central to the logic of Comparative Historical Analysis.

Each course includes pre-course assignments, including readings and pre-recorded videos, as well as daily live lectures totalling at least three hours. The instructor will conduct live Q&A sessions and offer designated office hours for one-to-one consultations.

Please check your course format before registering.

Online courses

Live classes will be held daily for three hours on a video meeting platform, allowing you to interact with both the instructor and other participants in real-time. To avoid online fatigue, the course employs a pedagogy that includes small-group work, short and focused tasks, as well as troubleshooting exercises that utilise a variety of online applications to facilitate collaboration and engagement with the course content.

In-person courses

In-person courses will consist of daily three-hour classroom sessions, featuring a range of interactive in-class activities including short lectures, peer feedback, group exercises, and presentations.


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc.). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.