ASTK15486U SEMINAR: Democratisation

Volume 2017/2018

Elective course in the specialization "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"

Elective course IV at "Security Risk Management"

The course is open to all master students


Is the world becoming a more democratic place? In three waves, Western Europe and North America (until WWI), former colonies (after 1945), and Southern Europe, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe (after 1974) have experienced the transition towards democracy.

The causes and the patterns of the political transition, as well as the features of the newly emerging democracies have changed over time. While in the 19th century, democracy was restricted to upper classes and men, today almost all countries conduct elections with universal suffrage, although often everything else than free and fair. Regional diffusion of patterns of democracy and of political transitions has played a role throughout history – reaching from the wave of liberal protests in Europe in 1848 until the Arab Spring in 2011. Recently, international actors, such as the EU, the USA and the OSCE, have become engaged in the active external promotion of democracy.

This seminar offers a theoretical and empirical insight into political transitions and the consolidation of democracy. It looks at both domestic and international actors, at elite-driven and mass-driven processes.

Learning Outcome



  • Theories and empirical knowledge on political transitions and democratisation.
  • Distinction of historical periods of democratisation.



  • Critically discuss and reflect on conflicting theories of democratisation
  • Throughout the seminar, the students develop their skills (and get support) in writing an empirical research paper



  • Apply concepts and theories from comparative politics to a new research field.
  • Empirical analysis of democratising countries

Overall 1000 pages

Overview and introductory readings:

Bueno de Mesquita, B. and Smith, A. (2011). The Dictator's Handbook. Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. New York (NY): Public Affairs.

Haerpfer, C. W., Bernhagen, P., Inglehart, R. F. and Welzel, C. (2009). Democratization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Linz, J. J. and Stepan, A. (1996). Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. Baltimore/London: John Hopkins University Press.

Lipset, S. M. (1959). Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy. American Political Science Review 53(1), 69-105.

Ross, M. L. (2001). Does Oil Hinder Democracy? World Politics 53(2), 325-361.

Weyland, K. (2012). The Arab Spring: Why the Surprising Similarities with the Revolutionary Wave of 1848? Perspectives on Politics 10(4), 917-934.

Students are at the MA level, have knowledge of comparative politics, and are interested in learning about a variety of countries and regions.

Students are familiar with quantitative methods of analysis and comparative case study design (methods 2).
We combine different learning forms, including lectures, seminar discussions, exercises in groups, student presentation - students will serve as ‘experts’ for some of the meetings, an academic writing workshop, and possibly a talk by a guest lecturer (to be confirmed).
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28

Students will be provided feedbacks on their presentations, on their expert roles (presentations), and on exercises.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individuel written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner