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The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
04 May 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module is designed to examine one of the biggest challenges to democracy in the contemporary world: authoritarianism.

First we will discuss what authoritarianism is and what the most common varieties of authoritarian regimes are.

Then we will go over the factors that drive politics in dictatorships and examine how these institutions can help explain the observed variation in autocratic
government performance.

Last, we will look at the logic of autocratic regime survival and conditions under which democratic transitions are more likely to occur.

Module aims

The module aims to introduce students to authoritarianism as a regime type and help them gain an understanding of what this regime type is, what the various types of authoritarian regimes are, how domestic politics operate in authoritarian countries, and what influences the survival and stability of authoritarian regimes.

Module learning outcomes

The module is meant to encourage students to think on their own, while ensuring that their thoughts are coherent and logically sound. At the end of the module, students should be able to articulate cogent answers to questions such as: What explains government performance, or lack thereof, in dictatorships? Why do nondemocratic rulers govern with democratic institutions, such as legislatures and political parties?

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

Weekly two-hour seminar


  • Lambsdorff, Johann. (2008) The institutional economics of corruption and reform: theory, evidence, and policy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Svolik, Milan W. (2012) The politics of authoritarian rule, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. vol. Cambridge studies in comparative politics
  • Johnston, Michael. (2005) Syndromes of corruption: wealth, power, and democracy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gandhi, Jennifer. (2008) Political institutions under dictatorship, New York: Cambridge University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Rabia Malik, email: rabia.malik@essex.ac.uk.



External examiner

Dr Edward Morgan-Jones
University of Kent
Reader in Comparative Politics
Available via Moodle
Of 50 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
1 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
49 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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