Course Description

Course Name

Democracy, Populism and Authoritarianism

Session: VRMF3123

Hours & Credits

3 Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course description
This course offers an informative introduction to the complexities of government across space and time, highlighting regional trends on a global scale. This implies an analysis of: the purpose of governments; whether sovereignty is (or should be) accompanied with duties and responsibilities or not; the functions of political institutions; and the relevant actors in political processes in the global era. The meaning of complex and sometimes contested concepts such as democracy, democratization, populism and authoritarianism will be explored, and particular attention will be devoted to populist movements that challenge political establishments and consolidated democratic institutions.

Required Textbook (subject to change)
Robert Dahl, Ian Shapiro (2015) “On Democracy” Yale University Press.

Entry Fees
Students must pay their own entrance fees when required.

Course Learning Objectives
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
1. Discuss different approaches to democracy, and democratization, populism and authoritarianism  
2. Describe and explain what democracy, populism and authoritarianism is.
3. Explain the processes by which democratic/authoritarian regimes are built, and the forces which work either to strengthen or to threaten them.
4. Describe and explain recent political developments in democratic and democratizing countries.
5. Assess the role of International Organizations such as European Union in democratization processes
6. The course has both written and oral presentation skills as embedded elements. Besides expanding the student's knowledge of theoretical underpinnings of democracy and actual political processes, a main goal is to improve the ability of students to formulate clear and logical written and oral arguments that are supported by convincing evidence. This course also forces students to think critically about readings and about data‐gathering.

Course Learning Activities

  • Attend class regularly (a minimum of 70% of the course in order to be considered for a passing grade, maximum three absences from class to avoid penalization).
  • Participate in class discussions and in class debates, some of which will be preceded by the projection of documentaries on specific topics related to the quality of democracy worldwide.
  • Provide an oral presentation on a topic related to the course program.
  • Submit a research paper (3000 words bibliography excluded, using APA citation style).
  • Participate in guest lectures organized during the semester.
  • Follow political news about democracy and democratization worldwide in major newspapers and mainstream media.

*Course content subject to change