SSST Subjects

PS360 Regional Studies in Democracy


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BA Political Science and International Relations with Business
  • BA Political Science and International Relations with International Law (TBC)
  • BA Political Science and International Relations with Diplomacy

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications



Module Code



Module coordinator

Maja Pulic de Sanctis


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • This module focuses on the process of democratization in historical and comparative perspective through detailed case studies of countries and regions going through a democratization process. The lectures and readings will address democratization processes spanning over many countries, while paying particular attention to regional dynamics and dimensions. For example, we will investigate countries in Latin America like Uruguay, Costa Rica and Chile where democracy seems deeply rooted in norms and expectations; democratic culture in Asia and nostalgia for traditional values; rapid democratic transition in Mongolia or the growth of civil society in Africa.
  • The module will use comparative academic literature in an effort to understand how political dynamics (e.g., democratization), institutions (e.g., federalism), and different actors (e.g., social movements, international organizations) influence democratization processes in the regions and countries under review. The case-study approach requires analysis of real-world data, and the module is in practice designed as a research-based and student-led series of seminars, with each student researching one country and presenting its findings to the class.
  • This module is intended to prepare students for independent research in the fourth year of study as well as engage them critically in the study of democratization. The more important objective of the course, however, is to familiarize students with the main topics and arguments on democracy and democratization as well as current critical debates on what constitutes good indicators for measuring the quality of democracy. Overall, the main goal of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge on democracy in today’s world.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Developing statistical literacy using real-world data I – investigating socioeconomic secondary data resources

  • Developing statistical literacy using real-world data II – using indices

  • What drives democracy: Internal and External factors

  • Regional Democratization: Latin America’s Uneasy Progress?

    • Authoritarian populism

    • Does democracy induce financial development?

    • Democratic division: The three regions

  • Case studies: Student-led seminar series on democratic countries in Latin America

  • Regional Democratization: The Post-Communist Divide

    • Transition from Communism to Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

    • Political mainstreaming

    • Public cynicism

  • Case studies: Student-led seminar series on Post-Communist countries

  • Regional Democratization: Asian Exception

    • Pseudocapitalism in China

    • Authoritarian durability

    • Measuring the quality of democracy

  • Case studies: Student-led seminar series on Asian sovereign countries

  • Regional Democratization: Africa, Overcoming Personal Rule

    • Electoral authoritarianism

    • Neopatrimonialism

    • The paradox of African democratization during the 3rd wave

  • Case studies: Student-led seminar series on African democratic countries


Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 30

1 hour

30 hours

Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours


Total Contact Hours


Total Engagement Hours 200

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline
Assignment + Quiz 1

3 hours


End of semester

Mid-term exam 1

1 hour


Week 8

Test 1

2500 words


Week 12

Final Exam 1

10 min


Weeks 5, 6, 10, 12


Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Analyse and compare the most important current issues in democratic countries, the processes of transition and democratic reversals.

  • Have a clear grasp of key concepts and issues as well as critical engagement with theoretical perspectives on democratization

  • Have and in-depth comprehension of some of the main current political debates around the idea, nature, values and future of democracy

  • Understand and critique the various statistical indicators of democratization success and failure

  • Develop a theoretically sound and empirically substantiated analysis of the democratization transition processes within a specific state, supported by historical and current data

  • Organise the results of the country analysis into a clear, logical presentation, both verbal and written

  • Deep understanding of current debates within the field of democracy and related concepts, with emphasis to regional approach.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Course readings and class discussion. (ILO: 1-7)

  • Presentations by instructor, in-class discussions (ILO: 1-7)

  • Country Analysis Report. (ILO: 1-2; 4-7)

  • Individual presentations (ILO:1-7)

  • Individual discussions/tutorials with students as needed and detailed feedback on their assignments. (ILO: 1-7)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Course work –mid-term exam; country analysis report; in-class presentations . (ILO: 1-7)

  • Final Exam (ILO: 1-7)

Practical Skills:

  • Ability to argue, listen and respond to their peers, especially in relation to research progress throughout the semester.

  • Ability to compare and understand democratization processes in four examined regions of the world.

  • In-depth comprehension of case studies examined across the globe.

  • Ability to find and use statistical indicators as real world secondary data in research process.

  • Critical comparison and understanding of statistical indicators as real world secondary data.

  • Ability to critically analyse and interpret political events and phenomena, applying theoretical frameworks in different, new contexts

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Practical with tutor-lead support

  • (PS: 1-4, 6)

  • Individual project assignment (PS: 2,3,4,5,6)

  • Student debates, individual discussions/tutorials with students (PS: 1-6)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Written Exams (PS: 1-4,6)

  • Country Analysis Report (PS: 1-6)

  • Presentation (PS:1-6)

Transferable Skills:

  • Ability to evaluate ideas, arguments and texts.

  • Ability to independently research, select and analyze information and data

  • Public speaking, clarity of oral argument and presentations.

  • Clarity of written argument and presentation.

  • Ability of multi-perspective analysis s and of engaging with different standpoints.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Course readings and class discussions. (TS: 1, 2, 3, 5)

  • Lectures and in-class exercises (TS: 1, 2, 3, 5)

  • In-class presentations. (TS: 1-5)

  • Research report on a given country (TS: 1-5)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Course work –mid-term exam , country analysis report and individual presentation (TS: 1-6)
  • Final Exam (TS: 1-5)

Key Texts and/or other learning materials


  • Jean Grugel, Matthew Louis Bishop (2013). Democratization: A Critical Introduction 2nd ed. Political Analysis Palgrave Macmillan.

Journal Articles

  • Alejandro Toledo (2010) Latin America: Democracy with Development. Journal of Democracy, 21(4), pp.5-11.
  • Berend I. and Bugaric B. (2015) Unfinished Europe: Transition from Communism to Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 50(4) 768–785.Bogaards M. (2013) Reexamining African Elections, Journal of Democracy 24 (4), pp. 151-160.
  • Chen, A. (2002) Capitalist Development, Entrepreneurial Class, and Democratization in China. Political Science Quarterly, Vol.117(3), pp.401-422.
  • Crabtree, J. (2010) Democracy without Parties? Some Lessons from Peru. Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol.42(2), pp.357-382.
  • Diamond L. (1991) Nigeria's Perennial Struggle. Journal of Democracy, Vol.2(4), pp.73-85.
  • Henrique Cardoso, F. (1986). Democracy in Latin America. Politics & Society, 15(1), pp.23-41.Ian Taylor & Paul D. Williams (2008) Political culture, state elites and regional security in West Africa, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 26:2, 137-149.
  • Illner M. (1996) Sociology and Historical Change: The Case of the Post-Communist Transformation in Europe, Czech Sociological Review 4(2), pp. 157-169.
  • Juliet Pietsch (2015) Authoritarian Durability: Public Opinion towards Democracy in Southeast Asia, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 25:1, 31-46, DOI: 10.1080/17457289.2014.933836
  • Lebas, A. (2014) The Perils of Power Sharing. Journal of Democracy, Vol.25(2), pp.52-66
  • Mainwaring, S. (1987) Urban Popular Movements, Identity, and Democratization in Brazil. Comparative Political Studies, Vol.20(2), p.131.
  • Morlino L., Dressel B., Pelizzo R. (2011) The Quality of democracy in Asia-Pacific: issues and findings, International Political Science Review 32(5) 491 –511.
  • Pérez-Liñán, A. and Mainwaring, S. (2013). Regime Legacies and Levels of Democracy: Evidence from Latin America. Comparative Politics, 45(4), pp.379-397.
  • Plattner, M. and Diamond L. (2013) Lessons from Latin America. Journal of Democracy, Vol.24(2), pp.92-92.
  • Preuß Ulrich (2001) The Rule-Making and Policy Actors in the Transition and the Issue of the Strategy of Transformation, Studies in East European Thought, Vol.53(3), pp.183-195.
  • Szabo M. (1996) Repertoires of Contention in Post-Communist Protest Cultures: An East European Comparative Survey, Social Research 63 (4) pp. 1156-1182.
  • Victor Menaldo and Daniel Yoo (2015). Democracy, Elite Bias, and Financial Development in Latin America. World Politics, 67, pp 726-759 doi:10.1017/ S0043887115000192

Supplementary Materials

  • Hooghe, L., (2010), The Rise of Regional Authority: A Comparative Study of 42 Democracies, Routledge
  • Huntington, Samuel P (1991) The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma.

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee: 19th April 2017

Date approved by School Board of Study : 26th April 2017

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee: 10th May 2017

Date of Annual Review: 31st December 2018


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