Latin American Politics

Course content

The major topics in the political and economic history of Latin America are presented in this course in a comprehensive overview. It builds on scholarly literature to grasp the region's major issues from the perspectives of political dynamics, actors, institutions, and history.  in addition to introducing students to the major theories of democracy and development in the region, this course will help them better understand fundamental ideas in the field, including party systems, representation, institutions, and populism, among other


The course is based on 6 modules:

- Context: Overview of the historical and political background of the region to provide a broad perspective of the region.

- Development theories: Zoom into the different development theories proposed to understand the economic and democratic trajectories of the region.

- Early Democratic History: Focus on early democratic history in Latin America and the inclusion of the working class in political life.

- Economic Reforms, Populism, and Democratic Breakdown: Discussion of the introduction of economic reforms that foster industrialization, the emergence of the first populist wave in that period, and the process of democratic breakdown that resulted in the foundation of numerous authoritarian regimes in the region.

- Transition and Neoliberalism: Focus on the transitions back to democracies and their consolidation, and the role of the Washington Consensus on the economic reforms that came with it.

- Contemporary Latin America: Look at the region's contemporary issues and the academic studies being done at the moment.


Full-degree students enrolled at the Department of Political Science, UCPH

  • MSc in Political Science
  • MSc in Social Science
  • MSc in Security Risk Management
  • Bachelor in Political Science


Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH 

  • Master Programme in Social Data Science
  • Bachelor and Master Programmes in Anthropology 
  • Master programme in Global Development


The course is open to:

  • Exchange and Guest students from abroad
  • Credit students from Danish Universities
  • Open University students
Learning outcome


Better and more sophisticated understanding of the region's broader background and its historical roots, the theories that explain its various phenomena, and the contemporary political issues it faces

A general overview of the major theoretical perspectives and contemporary debates in regional scholarship used to explain political and economical outcomes.

Specific knowledges about the different countries of the region and their political systems.


Possess the ability to debate and evaluate empirical research, and to make informed judgements about the issues, on the region. As well as a new viewpoint on the global issues more generally.


Use a different set of field theories to understand political phenomena to produce better research.

Have on political topics to aid in critically evaluating challenges elsewhere.

The course will be based on presentations by the lecturer and will foster discussion among students.

The course will have a non-graded assignment on which students will have to present a research idea for their papers. Students will be required to discuss the ideas of their fellow’s work.

The syllabus will cover around 1000 pages, consisting both of books chapters and scientific articles. It will cover topics on the context of the region, developing theories, political development and contemporary issues on the region.

Some examples are:

- Collier, Ruth Berins, and David Collier. 2002 (2nd Edition). Shaping the Political Arena. Critical Junctures, the Labor Movement and Regime Dynamics in Latin America. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press

- Tsebelis, George (1995). Decision Making in Political Systems: Veto Players in Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, Multicameralism and Multipartyism. British Journal of Political Science, 25(3), 289-325.

- Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson (2012), Why Nations Fail, Crown Publishers: New York

- Valenzuela, J. Samuel and Arturo Valenzuela (1978), “Modernization and Dependency: Alternative Perspectives in the Study of Latin American Underdevelopment,” Comparative Politics, 10, 4.

- Mahoney, James (2001) “Radical, Reformist and Aborted Liberalism: Origins of National Regimes in Central America,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 33, 2, 221- 256.

- De la Torre, Carlos. 2015. “Populist Playbook: The Slow Death of Democracy in Correa’s Ecuador,” World Politics Review.

- Arturo Valenzuela, “Chile: Origins and Consolidation of a Latin American Democracy”, in Larry Diamond et al., Democracy in Developing Countries: Latin America, Boulder, Lynne Rienner, 1999, pp. 190-247.

- Portes, Alejandro and Kelly Hoffman. 2003. "Latin American Class Structures: their Composition and Change during the Neoliberal Era." Latin American Research Review 38 (1): 41-82.

-Luna, Juan Pablo. 2010. "Segmented Party-Voter Linkages in Latin America: The Case of the UDI." Journal of Latin American Studies 42 (2): 325-356.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
Free written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Free written assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Social Data Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Daniel Andres Cruz Doggenweiler   (11-706d7a7571783a6f7e81864c75727f3a77813a7077)
Saved on the 16-05-2023

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Courseinformation of students