Regime Change and Altered States

Course code POLI3170
Available in 2016
2015 Course Timetables


Looks at the politics of regime change. It explores how and why some regimes change, whether from authoritarian to democratic states, or the other way around, or some other permutation. The various pathways of regime change are considered and their institutional and political preconditions scrutinized. The puzzle of the coexistence of authoritarian regimes with modern economies will be addressed. The course will also consider the influence of proximity of target regime types (usually democracy), and some larger questions surrounding the adequacy of present formulations of what constitutes a democracy.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

1. To understand the prevailing patterns of political system transformation in the world, with an emphasis on recent transformations.

2. To appreciate the complexity of relationships between political system, socioeconomic structure, and institutions.

3. To gain a critical awareness of the uses of scores and rankings in the evaluation of democracy and legitimacy.

4. To fully understand the distinction between transition to democracy and democratic consolidation.

5. To gain an awareness of and ability to assess critically the theoretical and methodological debates in comparative political science and international relations.

6. To develop an understanding of key Social Science concepts and theories and acquire research skills to enable critical evaluation of the reliability, validity and efficacy of information, opinions and arguments.

7. To provide an understanding of and practice in oral and written communication skills.


The course content will be drawn from but not restricted to:

  1. Discussion of key concepts such as "regime change", "the state", democratization, consolidation, bureaucratic authoritarianism, legitimacy, civil society.
  2. Conceptual understanding of regime change theories: modernization, transition theory, structural approaches .
  3. Case studies of instances of regime change, especially in Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa.
  4. Consolidation problems and military coups.
  5. Impacts of economic change, insurgency movements, populism.


This course has similarities to POLI2170. If you have successfully completed POLI2170 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed Knowledge

10 units in Politics at 1000 level or equivalent

Assessment Items

Formal Examination: Final Exam *

Essay: Essays / Written Assignments

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Tutorial: Attendance Requirement - Students must attend a minimum number of these sessions. - Students must attend 10 out of 13 tutorials. Failure to do so without due cause will attract a penalty of 5%.

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Formal Examination: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must pass the exam to pass the Course.

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term