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Politics Of Central And Eastern Europe (Module)

Module description

Please note that module information is indicative and may change year to year.

The fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe brought democracy to the region for the first time in over forty years. Academics now had a new wave of democratisation and intense political change to study. This provided scholars with an almost unique opportunity to apply existing methods of political analysis to newly established democratic states. Even so, no country can escape its past and previous experience and structures can continue to exert an influence long after they have been officially swept away. Now, after more than two decades of democratic rule in the region institutions and practices have been established and are ripe for study. What can existing theories of party development, electoral behaviour and executive-legislative relations tell us about politics in Central and Eastern Europe? Have the specific democratic trajectories of countries in the region generated new or modified theories for political science? Are there similarities in comparative political developments across the region that lead us to believe there is a peculiarly ‘Central and East European political science’?

Please note, although this module assumes no prior knowledge of Central and Eastern Europe, it does assume that students are familiar with basic concepts in political science such as regime types, party systems, electoral systems, etc. If you are not, then please consult one of the following books prior to the start of the course:

  • Caramani, D. (ed.) (2017) Comparative Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Gallagher, M. et al. (2011) Representativ Government in Modern Europe, Open University Press
  • Bale, T. (2017) European Politics: A Comparative Introduction, Palgrave Macmillan

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Examine the reasons for and circumstances of the 1989 revolutions and their implications for post-communist developments.
  • Analyse the key institutional and constitutional developments of East European states.
  • Consider the development of political parties, party systems and party competition across the region together with analysing electoral behaviour.
  • Examine the nature of executive-legislative relations including government formation and parliamentary behaviour as well as the role of the president.
  • Analyse the nature of inter-state relations and relations with international organisations, specifically, the European Union.
  • Relate changes and developments to the theoretical literature.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Analyse the reasons for the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • Apply theoretical approaches to democratic transition to the cases of Central and Eastern Europe.
  • Explain the nature of the new institutional systems in each country.
  • Analyse and explain the development of political parties and party systems. Also, be able to identify the major political parties and political actors across the region.
  • Critically examine the influence of nationhood and statehood on democratic development in the region.
  • Explain the influence of external factors on political developments, in particular, the influence of the European Union.
  • Apply established theories of party system development, electoral behaviour and government formation to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Staff information

Not applicable

Teaching pattern

1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar per week


Module assessment - more information

One 2,500 word essay (60%) and one 2-hour unseen exam (40%)

Key information

Module code 5AAOB209

Credit level 5

Assessment coursework written examination/s

Credit value 15

Semester Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module Yes