Democracy and Authoritarianism in India and Beyond

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
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 South Asia. While India is the main focus for building in-depth knowledge and within-country comparisons, the module places Indian cases in comparative frames, with other South Asian countries.

The module introduces students to recent theoretical work in the field of democratic authoritarianism and South Asian studies. 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 welll as similarities and differences from politics of the other countries of the region.
  • Crtically 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 and South Asian cases as well as general theories of democratic authoritarianism, combining empirical knowledge with theoretical analysis.


  • 2 hour Seminars per week

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: 30%
  • Assignment 2: 70%

Suggested reading

  • Joel S. Migdal et al eds., State Power and Social Forces: Domination and Transformation in the Third World, 1994
  • Mark Tushnet and Madhav Khosla ed. Unstable Constitutionalism: Law and Politics in South Asia (Cambridge: CUP) 2015
  • 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


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules