Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


Democracy in the 21st Century explores and evaluates solutions to the growing Global disenchantment with Liberal representative democracy. Institutions and organisations as distinct as the World Bank, Left of Centre Governments in Latin America, non-governmental organisations, the Occupy movement in the States, and social movements in the Middle East are all responding to this political situation by valuing political organising, authority, decision-making, and policy-making which are based at the scale of the local, are organised through the local community and are justified through the language of participation.

The course provides both, a 'bottom up' and 'top down' view by exploring the debates and practices surrounding this focus on the local and the role of participation in the re-enchantment of democracy in the 21st Century. It will begin with a focus on key debates in political theory which are shaping political practice and then use these to evaluate a series of case studies from across the Globe, including good governance, participatory budgeting, participatory poverty reduction, insurgent citizenship, and the politics of autonomy.

Availability2022 Course Timetables

Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 1 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Identify, describe, interpret, analyse and apply key political theories of local power, politics and policy.

2. Identify, describe, interpret, analyse and apply different conceptualisations of participatory democracy and citizenship.

3. Evaluate experiences of participatory democracy and local politics in comparative perspective

4. Demonstrate skills of critical policy analysis.

5. Conceptualise and analyse political decision-making and motivations to participate.


The topics in this course include the following:

  1. Introduction: The Turn to the Local
  2. The Limits and Challenges of a Turn to the Local
  3. Participation and Policymaking i): Policy and Discourse
  4. Participation and Policymaking ii): Policy and Hegemony
  5. Participation and Policymaking ii): Policy and Gender
  6. Good Governance and Decentralisation
  7. Participatory Poverty Reduction Strategies
  8. Participatory Budgeting
  9. Indigenous Cosmopolitics and Constitutionalism
  10. The Alt-Right
  11. Insurgent Citizenship
  12. Autonomous Social Movements
  13. Case Study essay support workshop

Assessment items

Essay: Mid-Semester Essay

In Term Test: In Class Test

Essay: Policy Analysis

Essay: Case Study Essay

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 13 Weeks

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.