Society and Politics in Contemporary Spain

Universidad Pompeu Fabra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Society and Politics in Contemporary Spain

  • Host University

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

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

    Course Description
    This course is designed to give an overview of fundamental issues in the study of Spanish and Catalan politics. Its core is the study of the nature and functioning of the Spanish democratic system installed since the mid-seventies, paying special attention to its political processes, institutions, actors, political culture and electoral behavior. The course also introduces the previous Spanish democratic experience (2nd Republic, 1931- 1936), its collapse (Civil War, 1936-1939), the dictatorial rule under by Franco, and the Spanish transition to democracy (1975-1978) which has strongly influenced the current features of the Spanish and Catalan political systems

    Learning Objectives
    At the end of this course the students will be able: 1) to understand the development and working of the Spanish and Catalan political systems in the last decades within the context of the EU; 2) to comprehend the relationship between democracy and Spanish politics; 3) to become familiar with the key literature on Spanish and European comparative politics.

    Course Workload
    The workload of the course rests on the assigned readings that students are expected to complete prior to coming to class and to contribute to discussion during activities. That is, during lectures, I will pose questions to encourage students' participation and developing critical thinking. Students are expected to actively participate along the course with exercise, in-group activities and debates. Finally, they will have to make a home midterm exam and also home final exam.

    Methods of Instruction
    The course is structured in both lecture and participatory formats. Classes usually start with an introductory lecture where the professor will present the most relevant issues of the topic at stake. Topics are grouped into weekly format which include students’ activities oriented to relate concepts, to express original ideas as well as to develop their critical thinking on the topics under study. In addition, we will make a few selected field trips during the course aimed at improving the knowledge of the terrain.

    Method of Assessment
    The final grade will be calculated as follows:
    Class attendance: 10%
    Term papers: 20 %
    Take Home Midterm exam: 35%
    Final exam: 35%

    Absence Policy
    Attending class is mandatory and will be monitored daily by professors. The impact of absences on the final grade is as follows:
    Up to two (2) absences - No penalization
    Three (3) absences - 1 point subtracted from final grade (on a 10 point scale)
    Four (4) absences - 2 points subtracted from final grade (on a 10 point scale)
    Five (5) absences or more - The student receives and INCOMPLETE for the course

    The BISS attendance policy does not distinguish between justified or unjustified absences. The student is deemed responsible to manage his/her absences.

    Emergency situations (hospitalization, family emergency, etc.) will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis by the Academic Director of the UPF Summer School.

    Classroom Norms
    -There will be a 10 minute break during the class.

    Course Contents

    Session 1 - Course description
    Introduction to the Course
    Course format
    Principal contents and overview of the course. 

    Session 2 - Basic Historical and Political Facts
    State Information
    Historical Narratives
    Origins of institutional structure 

    Session 3 - Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy 
    The democratic moment
    What democracy is ... and is not
    Democracy's Third and Fourth Waves
    Dangers and dilemmas of democracy
    Explanatory factors for the consolidation of a democracy.

    Session 4 - The Transition to Democracy
    Institutionalizing a new regime
    The Constituent Process
    The Constitution of 1978
    Analytical perspectives about the transition process to democracy
    Explaining successful democratic consolidation.

    Session 5 - Parlamentarism versus Presidentialism, the Central Government, the executive and the Monarchy 
    Constitutional choices for new democracies
    The virtues of parliamentarism
    The virtues of presidentialism
    The primacy of the particular
    Eurpeaan and Spanish Parliamentarism.
    The Head of the State
    The Prime Minister
    The Cabinet
    Making Laws in Spain; executives and legislatures
    Monarchy in the Spanish Constitution.

    Session 7 - Political Parties and Party System
    Theory of political parties and party systems
    Parties and party system in Spain
    Party membership
    Power within parties
    Party families in Spanish Politics
    The role of national parties
    The role of regional parties
    New parties and movements in Spain.

    Session 8 -  [Field Trip] Museu d’Història de Catalunya

    Session 9 - Elections, Electoral System and Legislatives
    Theories of democratic institutions: consensus and majoritarian systems
    The functions of legislatures
    Bicameralism in Spanish politics
    Checks and balances in the Spanish political system
    The relationship between the legislative and the executive in Spain

    Session 10 - Midterm  (exam) 

    Session 11 - Gender and Politics
    Gender policy
    Electoral quotas
    Parties and Gender

    Session 12 - The territorial Model
    Estado autonómico
    Territorial conflict

    Session 13 -  Catalonia: history and politics
    Catalan politics
    Catalan institutions

    Session 14 - The self-determination debate 
    Territorial conflict
    Self-determination demands
    Accommodation and decentralization

    Session 15- [Field Trip] Institut d’Estudis de l’Autogovern (Catalan Self-Government Institute

    Session 16 - [ Field Trip] Catalan Parliament Visit

    Session 17 - The EU and the Europeanization of the Spanish Political System
    The European integration process
    Europeanization and institutional analysis
    Effects of the Europeanization process in the Spanish political system
    The merger between the domestic and the European policy processes.

    Session 18- Final Paper poster exhibition

    Session 19 - Recap Social Q&A

    Session 20 - Final Exam 

    Required Readings: The professor will assemble a coursepack/or indicate mandatory textbooks

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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.