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Key information

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Module description

This module provides a comparative introduction to the topic of political authoritarianism. Authoritarianism, understood as non-democratic governance, is one of the main scourges of modern politics. Though there was a wave of democratisation following the collapse of the Soviet Union, authoritarianism has persisted in numerous guises, including the semi-authoritarian regimes that have developed in many of the so-called 'democratising' states. In gaining an understanding of contemporary authoritarianism, students will develop a more nuanced appreciation of the variety of different ways in which power can be exercised. The module will be of interest to those whose primary focus is on comparative politics, political economy, human rights, sociology and/or political history. 

Assessment details

'An appropriate assessment pattern will be set which may include but not limited to one or several of the following; Written coursework, group work, unseen timed examinations, participation etc'

Educational aims & objectives


  • To consider the concept of authoritarianism and its principal sub-types

  • To analyse how authoritarianism research is conducted
  • To appreciate the factors that have contributed historically to the contemporary distribution of authoritarianism around the world

  • To examine how the three main sub-types of authoritarianism function

  • To consider the common causes and consequences of authoritarianism

  • To examine critically common strategies employed in the aim of reducing authoritarianism and promoting democracy


Learning outcomes

  • To demonstrate a command of the principal findings of research in the field of authoritarianism

  • To evaluate critically the design and implementation of authoritarianism research

  • To explore the determinants of authoritarianism in the contemporary world using relevant databases

  • To conduct rigorous analysis using relevant research sources

  • To advance reasoned and factually supported arguments in both written and oral formats

  • To identify and locate scholarly works and other resources relevant to the study of authoritarianism

Module description disclaimer

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Please note that the module descriptions above are related to the current academic year and are subject to change.