Democracy Under Threat - POLI5008

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 5 15 (7.5) Paolo Dardanelli checkmark-circle


What is democracy? How can it be measured? Is populism a threat to democracy? Is democracy likely to survive? The module addresses these questions by first exploring the nature of democracy as a form of government and reviewing the way it has been conceptualised and measured across countries and over time. We will subsequently review how and why some countries have become democratic while other have not and what factors can explain variation between countries. We will then assess to what extent democracy is under threat, the nature of threats such as populism, their roots, and how they could be countered. We will conclude by discussing some of the key normative questions raised by democracy and trying to predict its likely trajectory in the foreseeable future. In a nutshell, the module offers an analysis of the past, present, and future of democracy and its significance in contemporary politics.


Contact hours

Private Study: 128
Contact Hours: 22
Total: 150


Optional to the following courses:
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations (Bidiplôme)
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Placement Year
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Foundation Year
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Year in Continental Europe or North America
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Language
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Year in Asia-Pacific
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with Quantitative Research
• BA (Hons) Economics and Politics
• BA (Hons) History and Politics
• BA (Hons) Philosophy and Politics
• BA (Hons) Sociology and Politics
• LLB (Hons) Law and Politics

Also available as an elective module and for short term credit students.

Method of assessment

2 short-answer tests – 20% each
Examination (2 hrs) – 60%

Reassessment instrument: 100% examination

*The exam and resit exam will be online*

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 Understand the nature of democracy as a political regime
8.2 Understand how democracy has been studied in political science
8.3 Assess the competing theories that seek to account for the emergence and endurance of democracy
8.4 Understand the consequences of democracy for political outcomes
8.5 Identify current threats to democracy and their causes
8.6 Understand how threats to democracy could be countered
8.7 Appreciate some of the normative questions raised by democracy.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.