Democracy, Dictatorship and Regime Change
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 15 January 2023
Friday 24 March 2023
22 May 2022
Requisites for this module
This module studies political regimes and regime change. It will introduce classic theories, current debates, and state-of-the-art tools in the field of democratisation.
While the number of democratic regimes across the globe grew between the mid-1970s and mid-2000s, it has declined in the last decade and, now, democracy seems to be under attack even in some of its oldest bastions in North America and Western Europe.
This raises a number of fundamental questions. What difference does it make to live in a democracy over a dictatorship? How does democracy emerge and what makes it endure? When do democratic revolutions occur? What do the authoritarians do to prevent them? Can democracy be exported? When and how do democracies break down? These are just some of the questions that will be tackled.
Although the module employs historical examples and case studies (e.g., democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe and in Latin America), a particular focus lies on the latest political developments (e.g., efforts at democratic transition during the Arab Spring and more recently; democratic backsliding in places like Poland, Brazil, Mexico, and the US; consolidating electoral autocracies in places like Hungary, Russia, Turkey, India, and Venezuela, and ongoing authoritarian rule in places like Thailand, Iran, and China, etc.).
This module aims to provide students with conceptual tools, theories, and methods to make sense of the world’s changing political landscape. By adopting a scientific approach to the study of major political developments and transformations, it seeks to help students develop sound research aptitudes.
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the on-going political transformations and challenges to democratic regimes
2. Formulate analytical questions and develop cogent fact-based arguments in relation to the study of major political developments and transformations.
3. Find relevant information on current political regimes, critically assess it, and incorporate it into a coherent narrative.
4. Master complex political realities and abstract concepts.
Week 1 - Introduction: Historical Trends in Democratisation
Week 2 - Democracy: Definitions, Concepts, and Measures
Week 3 - Dictatorships: Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes
Week 4 - Democratisation: Explanations and Approaches
Week 5 - Democratic Regime Survival
Week 6 – Democratic Regime Breakdown (or the Rise of Authoritarian Rule)
Week 7 – Authoritarian Regime Survival and Breakdown
Week 8 – Subnational Regime Juxtaposition
Week 9 – Regime Types and Economic Development/Growth
Week 10 - Contemporary Challenges and Future Prospects for Democracy
This module is part of the Q-Step pathway. Q-Step is an award which you can gain simply by enrolling on specific modules and will signal to employers your capability in quantitative research. Learn more about the Q-Step pathway and enhance your degree now.
Weekly lecture and tutorial
Gunitsky, S. (2018) ‘Democratic Waves in Historical Perspective’, Perspectives on Politics
, 16(3), pp. 634–651. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592718001044
Lührmann, A. et al.
(2019) ‘State of the world 2018: democracy facing global challenges’, Democratization
, 26(6), pp. 895–915. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2019.1613980
Boese, V.A. (2019) ‘How (not) to measure democracy’, International Area Studies Review
, 22(2), pp. 95–127. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/2233865918815571
Philippe, S. and Terry Lynn, K. (1991) ‘What Democracy Is…and Is Not’, Journal of Democracy
, 2(3), pp. 75–88. Available at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/225590
Barbara Geddes, Joseph Wright and Erica Frantz (2014) ‘Autocratic Breakdown and Regime Transitions: A New Data Set’, Perspectives on Politics
, 12(2). Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/43279909?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
Lührmann, A., Tannenberg, M. and Lindberg, S.I. (2018) ‘Regimes of the World (RoW): Opening New Avenues for the Comparative Study of Political Regimes’, Politics and Governance
, 6(1), pp. 60–77. Available at: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v6i1.1214
Teorell, J. (2010) Determinants of democratization: explaining regime change in the world, 1972-2006
. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511762727
Miller, M.K. (2021) Shock to the System
. Princeton University Press. Available at: https://doi.org/10.23943/princeton/9780691217000.001.0001
Boese, V.A. et al.
(2021) ‘How democracies prevail: democratic resilience as a two-stage process’, Democratization
, 28(5), pp. 885–907. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2021.1891413
WRIGHT, J. (2008) ‘Political Competition and Democratic Stability in New Democracies’, British Journal of Political Science
, 38(2), pp. 221–245. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123408000124
Laura K Taylor and Alexander Dukalskis (2012) ‘Old truths and new politics: Does truth Commission “publicness” impact democratization?’, Journal of Peace Research
, 49(5). Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41721632#metadata_info_tab_contents
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
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.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Allyson Benton, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Module Supervisor: Allyson Benton email@example.com Module Administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Edward Morgan-Jones
University of Kent
Reader in Comparative Politics
Available via Moodle
Of 4 hours, 4 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.
Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can
be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements,
industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist
of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules.
The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.