Course content

This course focuses on the process of democratic transitions from constitutional, judicial and comparative perspectives. Even that the course´s motivation is thematic and not geographical, the lectures and readings will tackle mostly European transitions to democracy. Our topic is a multidisciplinary and engages law, history and politics of social transformation in the aftermath of authoritarian regimes. Drawing on interdisciplinary legal materials, the course will address the dilemmas of law and justice in transitional societies. These include the role of constitutions, constituent powers and the judiciary in transitional regimes.

The course is structured around main thematic areas:

First: Democracy.

Second: Transitions from Authoritarian Regimes.

Third: The role of the judiciary in transitions to democracy

Fourth: Case Law

Learning outcome

Analyze the concept of democracy and its relation with the rule of law and constitutionalism.

Compare the different models of transitions to democracy.

Identify and explain the main challenges of democratic transitions.

Evaluate the role of the military,

Put into perspective the concept of transitional justice and the role of the judiciary in democratic transitions.

The course will consist of lectures on the above mentioned topics mixed with case studies. The learning method is very interactive and Socratic. Students are expected to prepare well for classes and actively participate in the debates on the issues under scope. I.T. means (videos, documentaries) are also used to engage critic discussions on the topics under scope. The course also devotes a session to a role playing game, where the students play the role of different actors in a coup d´etat and a transitional period (opposition, military, police, regular citizens, journalist).

- Guillermo O´Donnell and Philippe C. Schmitter (2013) Transitions from Authoritarian Rule, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (Maryland).
- Jon Elster (ed), Retribution and Reparation in the transition to democracy, Cambridge University Press, (NY), pp. 59-88.
- Kathryn Stoner and Michael Mcfaul (eds) (2013). Transitions to democracy: a comparative perspective, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (Maryland).
- Aharon Bark (2006): The Judge in Democracy, Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ).

Interdisciplinarity, different perspective on legal issues

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5