Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 15 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 6 x 1 hour


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment Seminar performance  10%
Supplementary Assessment Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module. For further clarification please contact the Academic Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe and evaluate different theories and conceptualisations of democracy and democratisation
2. Critique the assumptions, theories and practices that have defined traditional studies of democracy and democratisation
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of transition and consolidation of democracy in post-communist region
4. Discern and analyse key factors in facilitating democratisation
5. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of social capital in building and maintaining democracy
6. Critique various theories of social capital and its components
7. Demonstrate an understanding of the workings of social capital and examine the paradox of East European democracies
8. Demonstrate through written work, seminar discussion and a group project an ability to synthesise conceptual analyses of success/failure of democratisation in post-communist region and the role of social capital in facilitating transitions


This module adds to the Departmental provision in the areas of Political Theory and European Politics. The module aims to offer a more specialist knowledge of theories of democracy and democratisation, and the role of social capital in building and maintaining democratic regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. It consolidates and draws on the Departmental expertise and provides an additional option of interest to students studying international politics and history.

Brief description

The module aims to provide a comprehensive analysis, understanding and critique of major theoretical and conceptual approaches to democracy and democratisation, and the role of social capital in building and maintaining democracy. The module draws on extensive scholarship concerned with transition and consolidation of post-communist regimes across Europe, being corroborated by vast empirical data and undertaken from a comparative perspective (also to include `other transitions? such as China, North Korea/Cuba).

The module is broadly divided into two main parts. Part One will develop students? conceptual understanding of the issues of democracy and democratisation. Part Two will focus on the definition and measurement of social capital as a relatively new political concept. It will also discuss and critically assess the role of social capital in facilitating and maintaining democracies across the post-communist region. The principal learning objectives of the module are (i) to endeavour to explain a varied pace of democratisation across the region from a social-capital perspective; and (ii) to address a controversy of perplexingly high levels of social capital (normally characteristic of good governance) accompanied by mal-functioning institutions of democracy in some East European regimes.


Part One: Democracy & Democratisation
  • Conceptualising `democracy?
  • Models of democracy (including electoral; il- and liberal types)
  • Understanding democratisation (as continuum)
  • Waves of democratisation
  • `Transition Paradigm?: questioning its rationale and relevance
  • How different are the post-communist transitions?
  • Factors facilitating transitions: historical; socio-economic, geopolitical and cultural dimensions
  • Conceptualising consolidation and failure: democracy `with adjectives? & other alternatives
  • Part Two: The Role of Social Capital in Democratisation
  • Why Social Capital? Examining themes in the study of democratisation (state capacity, institutions; civil society, and international aid)
  • Competing theories of Social Capital
  • Measuring Social Capital (trust; networks; participation; cognitive awareness)
  • Taxonomy of social capital (e.g. bonding vs. bridging; positive vs. negative)
  • The workings of Social Capital: a paradox of Central and Eastern Europe
  • What is to be done? Discussion of the future of democracy in Eastern Europe

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number There may be possible handling of collected published data for students¿ group projects. Additional support will be provided by the lecturer, if necessary.
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication. Fellow students will be encouraged to question the paper-giver to critique their approach or to suggest areas for the development of the chosen topic; in turn each will discuss the contributions and ideas of the other.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students¿ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well. In addition, students will be required to undertake independent research for their group project and present collected evidence to the class at the last lecture.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as BIDS and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning Discussions in particular will help to develop students¿ verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay, presentations, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of two essays will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of two essays will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practise and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module Ability to evaluate competing perspectives Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module. Group projects will further facilitate team working skills.


This module is at CQFW Level 6