Defending Democracy POLITIC4132

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the various threats to democracy and the possibility of democratic rollback. It focuses in particular on developments in Europe, and examines key challenges such as the democratic deficit, the rise of illiberal governance, and the promotion of democratic values.


This course may not be running this year. For further information please check the PIR Moodle page or contact the subject directly.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry requirements to Honours Politics or International Relations..

Excluded Courses





Essay, 2000 words (40%)

Simulation response paper (40%)

Presentation (20%)

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course examines the various threats to democracy that the European Union faces in the 21st Century. This includes internal problems such as the ongoing issue of the 'democratic deficit' of the EU and illiberal governance trends in several EU member states, and external challenges such as the promotion of democratic values in the EU's neighbourhood and beyond. The course intends to link the EU's stated aims of promoting peace, freedom, security, democracy, and human rights, both within the EU and in the wider world, with the challenges the bloc faces from illiberal and anti-democratic actors. The course intends to equip students with the knowledge and tools necessary to understand, analyse, and respond to the multi-faceted ways in which democracy is imperilled, within the EU and elsewhere.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Understand and explain the dilemmas and trade-offs the EU faces in defending democratic values, internally and externally

■ Understand and critique academic understandings of the EU's democracy promotion activities

■ Critically evaluate responses by the EU to threats to democracy

■ Design and develop strategies and responses to threats to democracy, within the EU and abroad

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.