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Democracy, Autocracy & the State - POL00063I

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Sarah Shair-Rosenfield
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The module centres around the most recent research in political science to examines key debates in comparative politics from a new and exciting perspective. Using contemporary examples, students will have the opportunity to learn about the nature of modern states and state building practices around the world and discover key challenges to state power. The module then moves to discuss contemporary perspectives on democratisation in regional context, shedding light on some of the most important debates in the history of political science. Finally, the module goes beyond the current scholarship on democratisation to investigate authoritarian regimes using innovative research on electoral authoritarianism and autocratic governance.

Module learning outcomes

By completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major theoretical approaches to the study of state, democratisation and authoritarian governance;
  • Be able to critically evaluate competing theories and formulate independent arguments;
  • Be able to apply and theoretical concepts to real issues within world politics;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of key concepts such as the state, regime type, political competition, etc.;
  • Analyse how institutions and domestic processes within states affect governance, stability, and policy outcomes.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 25 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Ostrom, Elinor. (1991). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. New York: Cambridge University Press: chs. 1-3 and 6.

Lijphart, A. (2012). Patterns of democracy: Government forms and performance in thirty-six countries. Yale University Press.

North, D. C. (1990). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge University Press.

O'Neil, P. H., & Rogowski, R. (2010). Essential readings in comparative politics. Chapters 1, 4, 5, 6, and 8.

Przeworski, Adam (2004), Institutions Matter? Government and Opposition 39, pp: 527-540.

Pierson, Paul (2004), Politics in Time: Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis, Princeton University Press.

Esping-Andersen, G ¶sta. (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Princeton University Press.

Linz, Juan J. and Arturo Valenzuela, eds.(1994).The Failure of Presidential Democracy .Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. [Pages 3-90].

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.