Undergraduate Module Descriptor

ARA3107: Politics of Semi-democratic and Authoritarian Countries

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Eleanor Gao (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning


Although 67 percent of the world’s population currently live in a country deemed either as “partly free” or “not free” by Freedom House, much of the scholarly literature in Comparative Politics has focused on democratic politics. The purpose of this module is to introduce you to, and familiarize you with, this neglected field: the politics of semi-democratic or authoritarian countries. The module begins with an overview of the different types of authoritarian regimes. We then discuss their internal politics such as the politics of redistribution and patronage, the role of civil society, and the presence of informal institutions. Examples are drawn from countries or regions across the world such as the Middle East, China, Russia, Africa, and Latin America. We also study contemporary popular resistance movements such as the Arab Spring, the supposed incompatibility between Islam and democracy, and attempts by leaders in countries such as China and Russia to “upgrade” their regimes in order to remain in power. 

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