Democracy and Authoritarianism in India

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2 or Year 3
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module is designed to provide students with a broad introduction to the conceptual, historical, and sociological factors that contribute to democracy and authoritarianism in India. While India is the main focus for building in-depth knowledge and within-country comparisons, the module places Indian cases in comparative frames with a range of countries within and beyond South Asia. Throughout, the emphasis is placed on analyses of political processes rather than a description of events. At the end of the module, students should have a good understanding of academic work on the South Asia and an ability to write well-structured and well-researched papers on selected subjects in the field.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Acquire advanced knowledge of Indian politics – its historical trajectories and major themes as well as similarities and differences from politics of the countries of the region
  • Critically engage with the main scholarly approaches relevant to an understanding of Indian politics, including claims of Indian exceptionalism, as well as important debates in the theoretical and historical literature on South Asia
  • Construct arguments that demonstrate knowledge of Indian cases as well as general theories of democracy and authoritarianism, combining empirical knowledge with theoretical analysis


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Critical Reading 30%
Assignment 2: Research Essay 70%

Suggested reading

  • Hansen, Thomas Blom, The saffron wave: Democracy and Hindu nationalism in
  • modern India 1999
  • Bhargava, Rajeev, Secularism and Its Critics, 1998
  • Corbridge Stuart and John Harriss, Reinventing India, 2000
  • Kohli (ed.) The Success of India’s Democracy, 2001
  • Dreze J and A K Sen, India: Development and Participation, 2002


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules