The main focus of the course is the history of democracy from antiquity to the late 20th century, both in terms of how actual political systems from different parts of the world have been organized as well as what their intellectual underpinning has looked like. Special attention will be given to the development of modern forms of democracy from the 17th century onwards. Apart from academic textbooks, students will also encounter and work with key source texts from the intellectual history of democracy in order to gain a fuller understanding of the requirements that need to be met in order to maintain different kinds of democratic systems.
The course further contains a comprehensive overview of different theoretical models for understanding and defining democracy as well as sample of model cases from the 20th century where democracy has been challenged or put under threat. The purpose of this is to provide students with an historical perspective that will enhance their ability to identify and assess contemporary cases of challenges and threats against democracy.
Instruction consists foremost of self-governed reading and analysis of the course literature structured by a study guide made available through the course’s web-based learning platform. The course does not include lectures but students will have access to short introductions to the main themes of the course made available on the course learning platform, as well as regular opportunities for online interaction with the appointed teacher. Online mandatory graded (Pass/Fail) seminars will occur. Seminars will be conducted online in writing on the course learning platform and orally using web-based conference systems such as zoom. For students present in Umeå, seminars may be conducted on campus rather than online. In some seminars, special attention will be given to the analysis of historical source texts.
Students are required to have access to a computer equipped with microphone and web-camera as well as a stable internet connection in order to facilitate online seminar attendance.
90 ECTS credits in history or history of science and ideas, or a Degree encompassing at least 180 ECTS credits, or equivalent. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English B/6. Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.