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Module

POL2111 : Democracy or Dictatorship? What are the differences and how do we analyse them

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sebastian Popa
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

The study of comparative politics is essential for gaining a holistic understanding of how politics works. The present module aims at providing students an in depth understanding of the way in which democracies come to being, the main tools we have to study them and what are some of the essential characteristics that help us to evaluate their performance. Thus the module will provide students with the analytical knowledge and practical skills to understand the basic pre-requirements for the proper functioning of democratic regimes. In order to achieve these goals the module will: 1) offer students the broad knowledge of the methods used in comparative politics, 2) analyse the process of state formation and the classification of regimes as well as the political culture that encourages them, 3) present the benefits of democratic regime, 4) analyse the performance of democratic governments and 5) analyse the behaviour of citizens that define modern democracies

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics taught will be drawn from the following:
Debates on methodology
Identifying and measuring democracy                        
Varieties of authoritarian regimes
Democratization- the role of economic conditions, culture, and international conditions
Problems of democratic transition and consolidation
Social media and populism, challenges for consolidation and causes of democratic backslide?
Democratic regimes and political culture
Democracy or dictatorship: Does it make a difference?
Government Performance: Economic Performance and regime survival
Government Performance: Accountability and Responsibility and regime survival
The comparative study of public opinion
The comparative study of voting behaviour.
The role of social media in democracies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Pre-Recorded lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00PIP Lecture
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1123:00123:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities113:0033:00Annotated/guided reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PIP Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk111:0011:00Online Student Consultation and Feedback
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide students with an introduction to key ideas, notions, and topics in the field of Comparative politics and the study of democratic and non-democratic regimes.
Seminars will provide a live, synchronous environment in which students will discuss the reading in order to acquire in-depth knowledge of the topic. They will provide students with examples that will help them understand the theoretical notions and link them with the empirical reality. Seminars are also intended to clarify the topics covered in class by allowing students to ask questions and debate amongst themselves. The starting point of each seminar will be the guided questions/tasks describe in the teaching actives.
The feedback hour gives students the chance to drop in and ask absurd questions of the ML, who may also use the time to expand on recorded lectures and clarify key themes. They will also give student the chance to ask for further feedback on their assessments and seek guidance for the assessment.
The structure guided learning activities will provide student with a series of questions and task that will facilitate their understanding of the required readings.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal2M501800 words
Written exercise2M20650 words
Written exercise2M20650 words
Research proposal2M10Research proposal plan - 500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Written exercise 1 will take the form of a reaction paper that will test the degree to which students assimilate and understand the material presented in the module. The Written exercise 1 should draw and elaborate on the seminar discussion and offer the students the chance to engage with the recommended readings. The Reaction Paper 1 is meant to assess critical thinking, written communication argumentation and ability to understand empirical research. Reaction Paper 1 will also enable student to get early feedback from their instructor and thus help with the preparation for Reaction Paper 2.
Written exercise 2 will take the form of a reaction paper that will test the degree to which students assimilate and understand the material presented in the module. The Written exercise 2 should draw and elaborate on the seminar discussion and offer the students the chance to engage with the recommended readings. The Reaction Paper 1 is meant to assess critical thinking, written communication argumentation and ability to understand empirical research.
The Research Proposal provides students with the opportunity to engage with specific topics that they find particularly interesting, while considering the relevant literature and methodological issues around the topic . This is also an opportunity for students to consider possible dissertation topics. The choice of topic lies with the students, but it needs to be closely related to one of the topics presented in the module. The research proposal is meant to assess critical thinking, written communication and argumentation in relation to subfields of comparative politics.
The Research proposal plan is meant to guide the students in their efforts towards writing a good research proposal, as well as enable them to get early feedback from both the instructor. The presentation will assess critical thinking, and argumentation.

Reading Lists

Timetable