Democracy and Democratisation in Contemporary Europe

Final year module

Lecturer: Dr David White

This module offers a comparative study of the wave of democratization that began in the mid 1970s and swept through much of Southern Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe during the following two decades.

The module analyses the theoretical literatures on contemporary democratization and regime change and compares the experiences of countries emerging from different types of non-democratic rule, focusing in particular on the post-authoritarian democracies of Southern Europe and post-communism in East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The module provides an overview of the most salient topics in the democratization literature, the basic issues in the contemporary debates, and explores the concepts of ‘democracy’ and ‘democratic consolidation’.

The topics investigated in this course involve the socio-economic, political and international dimensions of democratisation; the different possible paths towards democracy and their consequences on the consolidation of democracy; institution building in new democracies; the development of political parties and party systems; and the territorial, economic and cultural aspects transitions to democracy and democratic consolidation. These topics will be approached from a comparative perspective, with particular attention given to the scope of comparison and concept formation in comparative politics.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module the student should be able to: 

  • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of processes of democratisation, especially in Southern and East-Central Europe. 
  • Use the relevant conceptual frameworks to analyse democratisation situations in various areas of the world. 
  • Understand and explain the problems involved in the emergence and consolidation of a competitive party system in a new democracy. 
  • Demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the core methodological issues and key concepts in comparative politics.


  • Term One/Two: Presentation (15%)
  • Term Two: 3,000 word assessed work (50%)
  • Term Three: 2 hour examination (35%)