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Building Democratic Institutions


Admission requirements

Only students of the MSc Public Administration can take this course.


What kinds of institutions are essential for the building of a stable democracy? Do they need to grow over decades or can they be created in a relatively short period of time through the choices made by elites? What are the choices that democratizing elites are faced with? Can new democratic institutions be designed, and if so what factors might influence their success? What common challenges to
democracy worldwide are emerging today and what answers to these challenges can we find in contemporary debates on the nature of democracy, the relationship between globalization and democracy and democracy and the nation state? These are some of the questions which this course will address. These questions are becoming topical and urgent again after the opening of North African regimes in the so called Arab spring starting in 2011.

This course will discuss these questions with the help of various perspectives drawn from theoretical and empirical work on democratization mostly in the post communist countries in Eastern Europe but also in the European Union and 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, the problem of creating legitimacy in new types of political systems such as the European UnionPlease enter a course description

Course objectives

When students have completed this course, they 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 understanding democratization, short and long term perspectives and different social science approaches

  • be capable of analyzing recent process of transition to democracy with the help of the comparative and theoretical literature introduced in this course

  • 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 able to identify various internet sources and databases that can serve as starting points for empirical research in democratization

  • be able to make a critical presentation of a set of different, sometimes contrasting arguments from articles in the democratization literature


The (provisional) timetable is on the first page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Seminar discussions and presentations

Assessment method

Attendance and participation 10%
Students’ presentations 30%
Oral examination 60%

All components of the course must be passed with a sufficient grade to complete the course successfully.


The seminar uses blackboard. Full course outline with articles to be read for each session is to be made available 2 weeks before the start of the course.

Reading list

A set of articles for each session, to be announced via blackboard


Students need to register before the first session via usis. The maximum number of students to participate in this seminar is 35.

Contact information

Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova