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Democratization in a changing world



What kinds of institutions are essential for the building of a stable democracy? Do they need to grow over time or can they be created in a relatively short period through the choices made by political elites? Can new democratic institutions be designed, and if so what factors might influence their success? What role can external actors (countries and organizations) play in designing democratic institutions? How can insights from democratization literature help us address common challenges to democracy emerging today all over the world? These are some of the questions which this course will address.

This course will discuss these questions with the help of various perspectives drawn from theoretical and empirical work on democratization mostly in Eastern Europe and in the European Union itself and with examples from other parts of the world. The course will focus in particular on the practical and theoretical challenges encountered in trying to build democratic institutions, challenges such as multiple transformations and weak states, post conflict democratization and role of external actors.

Course objectives

Students who have completed this course should:

  • understand the major debates in the democratization literature and how these debates affect policy practice and policy advice;

  • have an awareness of the various schools and approaches to analyzing democratization, short and long term perspectives and different social science approaches;

  • have developed the capacity to reflect on the challenges and shortcomings of efforts to build democratic institutions in various regions of the world today;

  • be familiar with various internet sources and databases that can serve as starting points for empirical research in democratization;

  • critically assess developments in democratization in specific countries with the help of the literature and data sources used in this course;

  • communicate case analysis in a clear, informed and visually attractive manner.



Methods of instruction

Seminar sessions consisting of class discussions of pre-assigned readings and presentations of country cases linked to theoretical and analytical literature

Please note that students who miss two or more sessions without serious reason and prior notification will not be able to complete the course.

Study load

  • total study load 140 hours

  • contact hours: 7 sessions of 3 hours: 21 hours

  • self-study, preparation of assignments: 119

Method of assessment

Assessment will be made based on three components:

  • participation

  • presentation of country cases, in teams, using course literature and available databases

  • oral exam, demonstrating understanding of and critical assessment of key arguments of the readings

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


Blackboard is used and will be available one week before the start of the course.

Other course materials/literature

Various articles, to be provided in the course outline


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova