Fall 2019 - POL 132 D900

From Dictatorship to Democracy: Political Regimes in the 21st Century (3)

Class Number: 7822

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    Location: TBA

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 9, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    Location: TBA



A firm consensus - at least in the West - has developed in favour of democracy as a means to emancipate ordinary people from the mayhem, conflict, and poor quality of life associated with autocratic rule. Introduces the concepts and tools needed to measure and analyze democratization around the world. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


This course will build upon students’ existing knowledge of democratic and authoritarian politics, in order to develop a critical understanding of different forms of government in the world in the contemporary era.

Discussion will combine an understanding of the fundamental concepts of democratic and authoritarian governance, the major theories related to the processes of democratization and democratic decay, and selected empirical cases to illustrate both concepts and theories in practice. Major topics include types of regimes, the role of factors such as economic development, the presence of natural resources, international influences, and other major explanatory factors in shaping regime type. It will also consider the major causes of democratic backsliding and decay, including corruption, polarization, and perceived domestic security threats.

The two hours of class time will include a mixture of lecture, group discussions, in-class assignments and audio-visual content. Tutorials will include additional small and large-group discussions and assignments. At the conclusion of the course, students will understand the origins and subsequent evolution of both democracy and authoritarianism, and be able to describe and analyze the major challenges facing democracies today.


  • Lecture and tutorial participation 10%
  • Critical essay 15%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Major paper outline 5%
  • Major paper 25%
  • Final exam 25%



The course has one required textbook. Other readings available online.

Siaroff, A., 2013. Comparing political regimes: A thematic introduction to comparative politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
ISBN: 978-1-4426-0700-2

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html