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POLS208 Democracy

An introduction to the history and major theoretical interpretations of democracy in Europe, United States and New Zealand.

This paper provides a forum to consider and discuss the past, present and future of democracy. It focuses on Athenian, liberal representative and socialist participatory democracy, the history of democracy in Europe and the United States, and contemporary liberal, socialist and feminist interpretations of democracy.

The paper focuses on the origins of democracy in Ancient Greece (Section 1), the historical emergence and key characteristics of liberal representative democracy (Section 2), socialist participatory democracy (Section 3), and issues pertaining to the future of democracy in Section 4, such as the implications of global warming for the future of democracy, the extent to which globalisation is creating problems for democracy with respect to both national and international governance and, in this regard, whether or not cosmopolitan social democracy provides viable solutions to these problems and the alternatives to neoliberal capitalism and representative democracy.

Paper title Democracy
Paper code POLS208
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $886.35
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,766.35

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One 100-level POLS paper or PHIL 103 or 72 points.
Schedule C
Arts and Music
An interest in national and international affairs is an advantage.
Teaching staff

Associate Professor Brian Roper

Paper Structure


  • Essay
  • Term test
  • Short-answer questions
  • End-of-term exam
Brian S. Roper, The History of Democracy - A Marxist Interpretation, Pluto Press, London, 2013.
Course reader.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Ethics.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Above all, this paper aims to help you develop an understanding of the history of democracy; liberal, socialist and feminist interpretations of democracy; and contemporary debates concerning the future of democracy.

This paper encourages you to engage in an open-minded yet critical manner with this historical material and these perspectives in order to provide you with the opportunity of developing and strengthening your own understanding of democracy.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 15:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 13:00-13:50 30-33, 36-40
A2 Thursday 14:00-14:50 30-33, 36-40