Course 2018-2019 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
BIG (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Mission & Content Summary


In democracies the primary way for citizens to participate in politics is by voting. However, elections are rare and for that reason citizens can also participate in politics in other ways such as organizing protests. Citizens’ ability to make a meaningful change depends on a mixture of structural factors such as political institutions and the tactics that citizens use. This course introduces students to the analysis of political processes in well-established democracies and discuss the impact of institutions and protest campaigns on policy outcomes.


This course presents a broad overview of the factors that influence policy-making in advanced democracies. It is organized in three sections.

  1. Section 1 introduces different institutional varieties of democracies and their effects on citizens’ ability to hold politicians accountable.
  2. Section 2 focuses on citizen participation through voting.
  3. Section 3 turns to other forms of citizen participation such as civil resistance and protest.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Evaluate the quality of political representation in contemporary democracies.
  • Describe how political institutions influence accountability and responsiveness.
  • Explain the conditions under which different forms of citizen participation can impact policy.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify ways in which the quality of political representation can be improved.
  • Analyze current political events and the potential for meaningful change under different institutional and political conditions.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures


  • Lectures are structured according to the standard format: the instructor presents and elaborate on the material contained in the required readings, which the students have read before class, so as to enhance in-class discussions and students’ participation.
  • Attendance: some of the assigned readings feature a high degree of sophistication in terms of methods of analysis. Therefore, students’ attendance is strongly recommended. In fact, although no formal prerequisites are required, the lectures provide students some necessary (yet informal) background that help them gain a better understanding of those readings that include a technical component. Attendance is measured by the specific app available to all students. To qualify as an attending student and be allowed to take the partial exam, an attendance rate equal to or higher than 75% must be reported.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)


With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the student assessment is based on two main components, a partial written exam and a final written exam, each making up 50% of the final grade, and both based on a mix of multiple-choice and open questions.

  • Multiple choice questions aim to test the students’ knowledge of the fundamental concepts about different political institutions, and the links between institutions and accountability and responsiveness.
  • Open-ended questions aim to assess students’ ability to evaluate the quality of political representation in a given system and identify the ways in which it can be improved. In addition, open-ended questions test students’ ability to discuss the conditions under which different forms of citizen participation can succeed using examples from current political events.

The partial exam focuses on the readings covered in the first two sections of the course, which mainly survey different variety of democratic institutions and voting behavior. The final written exam is comprehensive and cover all the topics including the third section of the course on non-traditional forms of participation.


Written general exam (100% of the finale grade) based on a mix of multiple-choice and open questions, which aims to assess the student’s ability to describe the main theoretical and empirical findings contained in the readings covered over the course of the semester.

Teaching materials


The required readings for this course are scientific articles and book chapters that represent the key and/or state of the art contributions to the different topics analyzed. A complete list of the required and suggested reading are provided at the beginning of the course and will be available on Bboard.

Last change 22/06/2018 08:34