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Transformations in Modern Politics: Democracy, Conflict and Globalisation


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Dr Jason Edwards
  • Assessment: a 1000-word seminar report (25%) and 1500-word examination (75%)

Module description

What do we mean when we talk about ‘the West’ today? And how has democracy evolved over time? These questions are at the heart of this module.

In the first part we examine the key global transformations in politics in the modern era, from wars and revolutions to ideologies and mass movements. The second part, on the differences and connections between democratic and authoritarian regimes, raises questions such as how democratisation occurs, how democracies relate to non-democratic forms of government, how non-democratic regimes claim a degree of legitimacy, whether it is true that democracies do not fight wars against each other, and what is ‘illiberal democracy’?

Overall the module provides a thorough grounding in the central transformations that have shaped the modern world.

Indicative syllabus

  • Before European hegemony: travel, trade and civilisation
  • The Atlantic Crucible
  • What is the West, and when was it made? Classes, masses and nations
  • The Age of Empire: capitalism, imperialism, war
  • The Long Peace: the Cold War as global conflict
  • Models of democracy
  • Democratic peace theory
  • Theories of democratisation
  • Fascism, communism
  • Illiberal democracy

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge of the competing theories for the ‘rise of the West’ and the historiographical debates surrounding world history
  • knowledge of the context in which political transformation takes place internationally, and the ways in which political structures and social processes help or hinder such change
  • knowledge of competing theories in relation to the evolution of democratic and non-democratic regimes
  • knowledge of the constituent components of non-democratic regimes, including the ways in which they seek to obtain a degree of legitimacy
  • an understanding of how various theoretical approaches drawn from the social sciences and humanities contribute towards the understanding of social and political transformations in the modern world
  • use of relevant research methods and study skills when critically analysing transformations in global politics.