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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 this course will address.

This course will discuss the challenges to the practice of designing democratic institutions with the help of various perspectives drawn from theoretical work on democratization and state building. We focus on the practical and theoretical challenges encountered in trying to build democratic institutions and external democracy promotion in the world today. Using a broad literature of comparative studies in democratization, students will become familiar with empirical findings and developments in this field, practical policy approaches and various rankings used to assess democratization. We will discuss important actors in democracy promotion such as the EU and the USA and the difficulties, risks and pitfalls in democracy promotion in today’s turbulent international context. Theoretical and empirical insights will be applied by students in developing and presenting short country cases in class.

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 of analysis of democratization, short and long term perspectives and different social science approaches;

  • understand and reflect on the challenges of efforts to build democratic institutions in various regions of the world today;

  • assess different approaches to democratization and current policies by major actors in the field

  • use internet sources and databases as starting points for empirical research in democratization and be familiar with the usefulness and shortcomings of different indicators;

  • critically assess developments in democratization in specific countries with the help of the literature and available data sources and indicators;

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


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Methods of instruction

The seminar will consist of discussion of the assigned readings combined with student presentations of country cases (in teams) linked to the theoretical and analytical literature discussed in class.
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 hours

Method of assessment

Assessment will be made based on three components: *participation, including attendance: 10% *presentation of country cases, in teams, using course literature and available databases: 40% *oral exam, demonstrating understanding of and critical assessment of key arguments of the readings: 50%

Students who miss or fail their country case presentation will be required to submit a paper of 2000 words in compensation, with the corresponding analysis, tables and figures. The oral exam can be retaken if the grade was lower than 5.5.

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 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.

Reading list

Selected articles and papers, listed in the course outline and available through the University library journals.


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