• Class Number 4208
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Edward Aspinall
    • Prof Edward Aspinall
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

This graduate-level seminar course introduces students to the major debates that have animated scholarly literature on the rise, nature and breakdown of democracy. It takes participants through a series of core texts from the last fifty years concerning how democracy is best defined, how and under what conditions democratic regimes come into place and break down, and how democracy interacts with other important political and social phenomena (such as inequality and ethnicity), as well as on authoritarian alternatives to democracy. The later parts of the course focus on contemporary challenges facing democracy worldwide. Students will be expected to critically assess alternative approaches to the study of democratic regimes and breakdown, and to apply the theories they encounter through comparative analysis of historical and contemporary cases.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Engage with various approaches to comparative analysis of democratic regimes, democratization, democratic breakdown and challenges facing contemporary democracy.

2. Critically assess the quality of alternative approaches to the study of democracy and the assumptions that underpin these approaches.

3. Be able to apply contending theories to historical and contemporary cases

4. Communicate knowledgably on contending approaches to the study of democracy and their relevance to the contemporary world.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 See course guide in wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Critical Discussion During Class 10 % 3,4
Reading Response Paper 20 % 2,3,4
Critical Review Essay 20 % 1,2,4
Research Essay 50 % 1,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Critical Discussion During Class

Critical Discussion (10%): The course is based around twelve three-hour classes of mixed seminar-lecture format. It is a reading-intensive course, with over 100 pages of reading assigned per week. The readings cover important classical texts on democracy, democratisation and authoritarianism, as well as provocative new works. For the course to succeed, students will need to read these texts consistently, think about their arguments, methodologies and approaches deeply, and come to class prepared to engage with, compare and critique them. Students will be graded on the quality of their participation in seminar discussion.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Reading Response Paper

To facilitate discussion in seminars, students are expected to prepare a response paper (length: 500-750 words x 3 papers) on one theme raised by a week’s material in advance of the seminar. This will test in a more in-depth way students’ mastery of key theoretical and empirical reading materials. Each response paper must show familiarity with all essential readings for that day, but it need not address each reading one by one, or give equal weight to each. Indeed, it is better for a paper to bring readings together, synthesizing and drawing out similarities and differences, critiquing readings from a particular angle, highlighting similarities or differences, evaluating contending explanatory power etc. You may also use these reading papers as building blocks helping you to prepare for your critical review essay and/or the research paper.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Critical Review Essay

Students are required to submit a critical review (length: 1500 words) of one of an agreed range of books focusing on dynamics of democratisation or democratic breakdown in one country, paying particular attention to soundness of argumentation and theoretical contribution. This will test students’ ability to understand and critique high-level empirical research on the subject. Due: Monday 19 April.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 50 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,4

Research Essay

Students will choose a research paper topic of their choice that relates to the theoretical material covered in the course. The paper (length: 4000 words) is required to reflect research beyond the core class material. It is expected that most essays will be structured around application, testing and critiquing of theories covered in the course to two or more countries. A list of possible research questions will be distributed early in the course, but students are also encouraged to devise their own essay questions – in consultation with, and with the approval of, the lecturer. Due: Monday 1 June.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. OR Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Prof Edward Aspinall
6125 5744

Research Interests

Prof Edward Aspinall

By Appointment
Prof Edward Aspinall
6125 5744

Research Interests

Prof Edward Aspinall

By Appointment

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