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Legitimacy and legitimation


Admission requirements

MIRD students.


Legitimacy is one of the core concepts of social sciences. Different disciplines, however, define legitimacy differently and use different approaches to study it. To begin with, in this course we will discuss the conceptions of legitimacy and its dimensions, the objects of legitimacy (political authorities, institutions, policies), and different ways to evaluate it (objective vs. subjective). Subsequently, we will analyze empirical studies of democratic legitimacy, comparative studies of legitimacy across the world (including China and Latin America), and the use of legitimation strategies in non-democratic contexts (e.g. Russia, Central Asia). Finally, we will focus on the issue of international legitimacy and discuss whether and how international institutions can achieve legitimacy. The main reading for the course is a book by David Beetham The Legitimation of Power. In addition, a broad range of articles from political science, social psychology, and law will be assigned.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • become familiar with theories of legitimacy

  • understand different sources and effects of political legitimacy and differentiate between different objects of legitimacy

  • gain knowledge about differences in legitimacy and legitimation strategies of political regimes across the world

  • learn about how different methods are used to study legitimacy

  • be able to demonstrate high level of analytical thinking when interpreting the readings and participating in the class discussion


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

Mode of instruction

The course will be prevailingly seminar-based and will include in-class assignments. Occasionally, a short lecture will be given by the instructor to open a discussion. Since the course is discussion-based, presence is compulsory. If a student misses more than one class, they will need to compensate for the absence with a short essay.

Course Load

Total course load is 5ECTS = 140h

Seminars: 14 h
Class preparation (reading, notes, etc.): approximately 98h
Final essay (including research and writing): approximately 28h

Assessment method

  • Participation (10 %)

  • Class discussion (40%)

  • Final essay (50%)

Final essay can be re-taken if failed. Each student will need to complete a class discussion of readings once. In case a student misses the session during which they are supposed to complete this part of the assessment, they will need to compensate by writing a short essay.

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.


All relevant information will be communicated via Blackboard.

Reading list

The main book for this course is:

Beetham, D. (2013). The Legitimation of Power. 2nd Edition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Other readings will be accessible online and communicated in the course syllabus.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.


Dr. Honorata Mazepus


All other information.
This course is an elective designed for first year MIRD students.
This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course.