Module code: POL3089

Module Overview

This course provides an occasion for participants to acquire in-depth knowledge of how different social, economic and political phenomena put pressure on democratic functioning. In addition to introducing participants to the core principles of liberal and representative democracy, students will acquire insights into a wide variety of large-scale issues and debates that characterise contemporary democracies. More specifically, this course focuses on a number of pressure points within and challenges to today’s democracies, ranging from various forms of crisis to terrorism, populism and polarisation. The examination of these different challenges will be tightly structured and designed to help participants gain a deeper and more substantial understanding of comparative politics and the comparative method more generally.

Module provider


Module Leader

VAN HAUWAERT Steven (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: L200

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module directly engages with debates on and challenges to democratic development. At its foundation, this includes a discussion and definition of various forms of democracy and their interpretations. Building on this, the course then engages in a careful examination of how different phenomena create pressures or challenge democratic principles. The course divides these pressure points into two broad categories and subsequently considers how internally- and externally-derived challenges affect democratic functioning. The discussion as a whole will focus on the impact throughout a variety of geo-political contexts.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework CRITICAL REVIEW 1 (2000 WORDS) 40
Coursework CRITICAL REVIEW 2 (3000 WORDS) 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:
o Critical review of week’s assigned literature – 2,000 words, 40%
o Critical review of week’s assigned literature – 3,000 words, 60%

Formative assessment and feedback
Students will receive feedback on the first assessment before submitting the essay. Time will be set aside in seminars to discuss aspects of the assessment. Where students are asked to complete small tasks in advance of - or during - classes, verbal feedback will be given to the group as a whole.

Module aims

  • Build on existing knowledge of democracy and democratic institutions
  • Identify the core components of (representative) democracy in a wide range of geo-political settings
  • Engage in debates about democratic functioning
  • Gain an extensive understanding of how and why democratic principles are challenged
  • Increase the awareness of the subsequent implications of democratic challenges
  • Understand how democracies can be further consolidated
  • Provide insights into important contemporary issues and debates
  • Practice the understanding of comparative methodologies

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate an understanding of and capacity to engage with conceptual/theoretical debates CK
002 Employ theory to underpin an explanation of a particular research question CK
003 Employ empirical evidence to make a theoretical argument CKT
004 Use the comparative method to build (or revise/qualify) an argument CKPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

• Encourage critical engagement with political leadership from a range of perspectives.

• Facilitate the analysis of endogenous and exogenous challenges by encouraging the use of transferrable research skills

• Encourage independent research between classes

The learning and teaching methods include:

Workshop sessions (2 hours per week x 11 weeks) to include: lectures, prescribed reading, group discussions, data collection sessions, independent study, research and analysis of primary material. May include the preparation of short tasks prior to the weekly seminars (information to be given to students in the preceding seminar).

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL3089

Other information


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Politics with Creative Writing BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics with Psychology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.