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Liberalism and its Discontents


There are no classes currently available for registration.


This is a credit bearing course but can also be taken as a non-credit bearing course.

Discover the difference between our credit bearing and non-credit bearing courses.

As practised in recent decades, liberalism and liberal democracy - the system that marries majority rule with individual rights - has entered what many view as a crisis of legitimacy. Liberalism is widely seen as having failed to deliver on its promise to grow an increasingly mobilised and vocal number of people.

This Liberalism and its Discontents short course asks you to assess whether liberalism is ‘broken’, how serious the challenges to democratic liberalism are at the domestic level in various mature liberal democracies, and what can be done to meet these challenges.

The course is designed to help you think critically and analytically about liberalism, varieties of liberalism and liberal democracy and to assess some of the major changes and problems affecting politics, economics and society in the twenty-first century. We aim to equip you with the theoretical and analytical tools necessary for understanding major real-world challenges in contemporary liberal societies. We also consider practical and policy questions about what can to be done to address these challenges.

We plan to cover the following content:

  • Liberalism
  • Liberal democracy
  • Populism
  • Social media
  • Identity politics

Assessment is via a 2500-word essay (90%) and seminar participation (10%).

15 credits at level 5

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    In order to fully engage with the Liberalism and its Discontents short course, you should have some previous knowledge of the subject, for example, by having successfully completed an introductory class at Level 4 (such as the first year of an undergraduate degree or one of our Certificate of Higher Education modules), or by having professional experience in this area.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.