Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

Advanced topics course for International Relations and Comparative Politics track students.

Why did the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s Armed Forces) allow transition from direct military to civilian rule in 2011? Will North Korea’s regime collapse and if so what would change look like? What caused Russia’s de-democratization?  How important are economic and non-economic factors in sustaining authoritarian rule? Do authoritarian states promote autocracy beyond their borders?  These are some of the questions explored in this course.

With over half of the world’s population living under authoritarian rule and almost half of the countries understanding what authoritarian regimes are, how they function, why they endure and how they collapse are crucial questions to comparative political science. The course offers a comparative outlook to the study of authoritarianism, focusing on the varieties of this form of government, the factors sustaining it in terms of durability, resilience and governance, as well as the causes that might bring about its breakdown.  Attention will be paid to forms of neo-patrimonial rule and the institutional turn in the study of authoritarianism. Pathways from authoritarianism and the international dimension of authoritarianism will also be discussed. 

While striving to be global in outlook, empirically the course concentrates on the post-Soviet and Asian varieties of authoritarianism.

Learning Outcomes: 


  • The course’s main aim is to enable students to:
  • - acquire a strong understanding of the difference between regime types
  • (totalitarian, authoritarian, and democratic);
  • - become familiar with the varieties of authoritarian rule;
  • - learn about how authoritarian regimes exercise their power and sustain
  • themselves;
  • - become exposed to a wide range of cases of authoritarian.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

  • - acquire a firm understanding of the scholarship on non democratic rule, being
  • able to distinguish between sub-types of authoritarianism;
  • - critically engage with the literature on (authoritarian) regime formation,
  • consolidation and change;
  • - apply their knowledge of the theoretical concepts to empirical cases;
  • - distinguish between institutions and practices sustaining authoritarian
  • governance.

Workload and assessment
- 20% Class participation. This requires you to have done the required reading
and actively participate to the discussion. Class attendance is mandatory (1 unexcused
absence is permitted).
- 20% (10%*2): Online threaded discussion. Each week you should reply to one
of the questions posed by the course convenor on ceulearning and respond to
one of the posts by your fellow class mates.
- 10% paper outline (500 words).
- 50%: 4,000-word research paper (you can swap the paper with 4 additional
reaction papers, to be submitted weekly).
Paper outline: 19 January 2017 4pm
Paper: 19 February 2017 5pm