Democracy, Populism and Authoritarianism

The American University of Rome

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Democracy, Populism and Authoritarianism

  • Host University

    The American University of Rome

  • Location

    Rome, Italy

  • Area of Study

    Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description
    This course offers an informative introduction to the complexities of government across space and time, highlighting regional trends on a global scale. This implies an analysis of: the purpose of governments; whether sovereignty is (or should be) accompanied with duties and responsibilities or not; the functions of political institutions; and the relevant actors in political processes in the global era. The meaning of complex and sometimes contested concepts such as democracy, democratization, populism and authoritarianism will be explored, and particular attention will be devoted to populist movements that challenge political establishments and consolidated democratic institutions.

    Required Textbook (subject to change)
    Robert Dahl, Ian Shapiro (2015) “On Democracy” Yale University Press.

    Entry Fees
    Students must pay their own entrance fees when required.

    Course Learning Objectives
    At the end of the course, students will be able to:
    1. Discuss different approaches to democracy, and democratization, populism and authoritarianism  
    2. Describe and explain what democracy, populism and authoritarianism is.
    3. Explain the processes by which democratic/authoritarian regimes are built, and the forces which work either to strengthen or to threaten them.
    4. Describe and explain recent political developments in democratic and democratizing countries.
    5. Assess the role of International Organizations such as European Union in democratization processes
    6. The course has both written and oral presentation skills as embedded elements. Besides expanding the student's knowledge of theoretical underpinnings of democracy and actual political processes, a main goal is to improve the ability of students to formulate clear and logical written and oral arguments that are supported by convincing evidence. This course also forces students to think critically about readings and about data‐gathering.

    Course Learning Activities

    • Attend class regularly (a minimum of 70% of the course in order to be considered for a passing grade, maximum three absences from class to avoid penalization).
    • Participate in class discussions and in class debates, some of which will be preceded by the projection of documentaries on specific topics related to the quality of democracy worldwide.
    • Provide an oral presentation on a topic related to the course program.
    • Submit a research paper (3000 words bibliography excluded, using APA citation style).
    • Participate in guest lectures organized during the semester.
    • Follow political news about democracy and democratization worldwide in major newspapers and mainstream media.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work; others help us improve the user experience. By using the site, you consent to the placement of these cookies.

Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.