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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Social and Political Science

Undergraduate Course: Democracy in Theory and Practice (LLLJ07028)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryWhat is democracy and why does it matter? This course will introduce debates in democratic theory and different models from ancient Greece to the present. Students will critically examine current practices, learn about recent innovations and discuss the future of liberal democracy.
Course description Academic Description:
This course will provide an overview of different theories of democracy, covering approaches such as civic republicanism, liberal constitutionalism and deliberative democracy. Students will learn to apply theoretical approaches to issues ranging from democracy in a globalised world to proposals for the reform of local government in Scotland. The course includes a visit to the Scottish Parliament and students will have the opportunity to conduct a case study on a topic of their own choosing.

Outline Content:

Classic models of democracy
The first section of the course will provide a historical overview, with a focus on the origins of democracy in ancient Greece and developments that have led to modern mass democracies. We will identify different models and discuss key concepts such as citizenship and the separation of powers.

Aspects of modern democratic practice
The course will move on to examine modern democracy in practice, including issues such as representative government, voting systems, the role of parliament, and the increasingly global context of democracy.

The future of democracy
In the final section, we will look at some contemporary issues and debates. Topics may include deliberative and radical theories and recent democratic innovations. The course will end with a discussion on the future of liberal democracy.

Student Learning Experience:
The course will combine tutor-led presentations with tutorial discussions. Students will be expected to read relevant material before each class, engage critically with current political issues andreflect on their personal experiences as citizens. As part of their coursework, students will undertake a case study on a particular aspect of democratic practice. A formative project proposal and peer-feedback on presentations will strengthen the students┐ ability to conduct and present their assessed case study.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Lifelong Learning - Session 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) A 2000-word case study essay
Feedback Students will be encouraged to submit a 500-word proposal and reference list for their case study mid-way through the course. This will be returned with feedback in time to help students prepare for the final assessment. In addition, students will have the opportunity to present their findings in class and receive feedback from their peers.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. distinguish different models of democracy and their normative assumptions
  2. apply democratic theories to critically assess political institutions and practices
  3. reflect on the nature of citizenship and identify ways to participate in public life
  4. engage in dialogue about the meaning and value of democracy
  5. present arguments clearly and coherently
Reading List
Held, D., 2006. Models of Democracy. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Polity.

Bray, D. and Slaughter, S., 2015. Global Democratic Theory: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Polity.
Crick, B., 2002. Democracy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fishkin, J.S., 2011. When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Whelan, F.G., 2018. Democracy in Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in: critical thinking; articulation of complex ideas; participation in group discussion; written and oral presentation
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Maximillian Jaede
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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