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POL8025 : Autocratisation in Global Politics

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ka Ming Chan
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


In recent years, there has been a wave of autocratisation throughout the world. Examples of autocratising countries include the United States during the Trump administration, Turkey under Erdogan’s rule, and Myanmar captured by the military junta in 2021. What factors can explain autocratisation and what are the consequences of autocratisation? In this module, we examine the causes, consequences, and remedies of autocratisation. We will study both autocratisation patterns at the state level and analyse why citizens acquiesce to elites’ authoritarian behaviour at the individual level. The key aims of this module are:

The key aims of this module are:
1) To introduce the concepts of autocratisation and the key research designs used to study autocratisation.
2) To provide students with practical skills to measure and analyze autocratisation, both at the state level and at the individual level.
3) To increase students’ capacity to appraise research on autocratisation, and more broadly, research on transitology, public opinion, and political behaviour.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is divided into four parts. The first part focuses on conceptualisation and measurement. Specifically, we discuss what autocratisation means and how to measure its various facets. Next, we study the causes of autocratisation: what factors explain autocratisation and how do scholars identify them? The third part covers the consequences of autocratisation, namely, how elites and citizens react in the face of autocratisation. Last, we conclude by addressing the current debates on autocratisation. In particular, we explore solutions that help resist autocratisation and study citizens’ conceptualizations of democracy. Throughout this module, we will explore various datasets in the study of democracies, and replicate the current research on autocratisation, such that students can learn the techniques needed to conduct their empirical analysis.

Topics may include:
1 - Introduction to the module: the concept of autocratisation
2 - Typology of autocratisation
3 - Measurements of autocratisation
4 - What causes autocratisation? The process-tracing approach
5 - What causes autocratisation? The trade-off approach
6 - What causes autocratisation? The perceptual bias approach
7 - The consequences of autocratisation? Elites’ responses
8 - The consequences of autocratisation? Citizens’ responses
9 - How to resist autocratisation?
10 - Citizens’ conceptualisations of democracy
11 - Review, recap, and preparation for the final assignment

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00One research essay
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Seminars: Students' presentations and discussion of reading materials.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Student consultation, feedback on assignments and teaching materials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1146:00146:00Weekly recommended reading and data analysis
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Rationale of teaching methods:

Reading material involves both cases from western and non-western countries, in order to broaden students’ understanding of autocratisation.

Seminars will give students the opportunity to present and discuss theoretical ideas and empirical applications based on the weekly assigned readings.

Computer lab sessions provide students with experience and competence in using different statistical techniques to analyze autocratisation.

Drop-in office hours provide additional guidance for students when preparing the literature review, research design and empirical analysis for the final research paper.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper2M452500-word research paper
Practical/lab report2M30Take-home assignments
Oral Presentation2M25Seminars: Presentations and discussions
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. The seminars assess students’ abilities:
- To understand the core arguments and analytical vigour of the reading
- To learn the commonly used research designs
- To identify the contributions and limitations of different studies

2. The take-home assignments test students’ abilities:
- To explore and manage datasets that are commonly used in political science
- To visualize and analyze various datasets
- To recognize the importance of replications of studies

3. The research paper will test students’ abilities:
- To address a major question in autocratisation
- To draw upon and engage critically with the relevant literature
- To formulate simple theoretical expectations based on cited literature
- To identify and synthesize relevant empirical evidence

Students are strongly recommended to provide an outline so that they can receive early feedback for their final research paper. Students are also encouraged to read articles from journals (e.g. Democratization and Journal of Democracy), in order to know the current developments in the field and formulate their research puzzle. If the research paper has strong potential, students may have the opportunity to collaborate with the instructor and turn it into a peer-reviewed publication.

Reading Lists