Module Identifier IP37920  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Elin Royles  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Dr Elin Royles  
Course delivery Lecture   16 x 1 Hour  
  Seminars / Tutorials   7 x 1 hour  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3000 word essay  50%
Semester Exam2 Hours 1 x 2 hour examination  50%

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.

1. Discuss the key characteristics of a representative democracy and identify the implications for citizen engagement in western liberal democracies

2. Compare and contrast the models of representative and participatory democracy

3. Demonstrate an understanding of descriptive and substantive representation and use examples to illustrate the impact on the representation of 'minority' groups in the political process

4. Evaluate key debates and issues regarding citizen disengagement and young voter apathy

5. Analyse the debates for and against introducing greater opportunities for citizen engagement in representative democracies

6. Examine and evaluate the success of experiments to put deliberative democracy into action

7. Assess the role and importance of civil society in promoting citizen engagement and political activism   

8. Debate the potential of social movements and pressure groups to enhance engagement and revitalise democracy

9. Critically evaluate the value and impact of protest and civil disobedience in a democratic political system

10. Demonstrate an understanding of the degree of activism and apathy in democratic political systems and assess the implications for our characterization of the nature of contemporary democracy


The module builds upon departmental interests in politics and governance, and the research agenda of the Module Convenor. It will enable students to develop a greater understanding of different theoretical approaches to democracy and their implications for the engagement and disengagement of citizens in democratic political systems. It is a timely venture as debates regarding how to address the problems of political apathy and disengagement in Western liberal democracies evident from the 1970s onwards have reached a new high and led to experiments to promote greater citizen engagement with the political process in Wales, in the UK and across Western liberal democracies.

Brief description

The module theoretically and empirically examines key issues surrounding the political culture of western liberal democracies ¿ the problems of political apathy and disengagement and the potential of different initiatives to promote political activism and engagement. It analyses the characteristics of representative democracies, evaluates their strengths and weaknesses and identifies aspects that have contributed to the rise of political apathy. Alternative conceptions of democracy and forms of engagement viewed as having the potential to promote greater citizen activism and political engagement are explored and evaluated. The theoretical and conceptual approaches will be complemented by examining different empirical cases in Wales, the UK and more broadly. This module will be available to students studying through the medium of Welsh and English.


- Apathy and Activism - does it matter?

Representative Democracy
- Representative Democracy
- The political parties and their members
- Descriptive and Substantive Representation
- The Political Parties and 'minorities' - women and ethnic minorities
- Citizen disengagement and turnout
- Political apathy and young people

Alternative forms of Engagement
- Direct Democracy - Digital democracy?
- Participatory Democracy
- Deliberative Democracy
- Experiments from beyond the UK - British Colombia and Puerto Alegre
- Associationalism - theories of Civil Society and Social Capital
- The Rise and Fall of Civic Activism?
- Social Movements and Pressure Groups in theory and practice
- The role of Protest and Civil Disobedience
- Apathy and Activism - what's the nature of contemporary democracy?

Module Skills

Problem_solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of an essay will require that the students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare for seminars will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed in seminars by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.  
Research skills The submission of an essay 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. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student¿s ability to work alone can be undertaken and that their understanding of key concepts is of a suitable standard to undertake honours level work.  
Communication Students will learn how to articulate their ideas verbally and also to convey them in a clear and well-structured way in written form. They will, in addition, learn how to assert themselves to advantage. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and teamwork will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication. Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.  
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convener 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. The need to contribute to seminar discussions and to meet an essay deadline will focus students¿ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.  
Team work Teamwork will not be a central component of this module. But students will need to learn how to interact and communicate effectively in a group context during seminars.  
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 Web of Science and OCLC). They will also be provided with a course website to facilitate the learning process and communication with the course convenor.  
Application of Number During the module students will be required to undertake some data collection, numerical analysis and interpretation of particular key concepts.  
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation and team-working skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills.  
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice 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 - Develop the conceptual and practical skills necessary to maintain their own strategic nuclear capability. Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems  


This module is at CQFW Level 6