• Offered by Department of Political and Social Change
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Edward Aspinall
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2025
    See Future Offerings

Students undertaking this course remotely may have issues accessing materials online, please contact the CAP Student Centre for more information.

This honours-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. Apply contending theories to historical and contemporary cases
  4. Communicate knowledgeably on contending approaches to the study of democracy and their relevance to the contemporary world.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Critical Discussion (10) [LO 2,4]
  2. Reading response papers (20) [LO 2,3,4]
  3. Critical Review Essay, 2000 words (20) [LO 1,2,4]
  4. Research Essay, 5000 words (50) [LO 1,4]

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3-hour weekly seminar (x 12). 7 hours personal study.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

Students must be enrolled in an honours program. Incompatible with POLS8019.

Prescribed Texts

None listed


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3276 17 Feb 2025 24 Feb 2025 31 Mar 2025 23 May 2025 In Person N/A

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