ATS3905 - Democratic theory - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit


Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Toby Handfield


Associate Professor Toby Handfield

Unit guides



  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


A cornerstone unit in Human Rights or twelve credit points of second-year Arts units




The idea of democracy is ubiquitous in the contemporary world - diverse regime types and institutional systems claim democratic credentials and democracy is widely accepted as the most legitimate system of government. But the ideal of 'rule by the people' is not easy to achieve, and faces particular difficulties in large-scale modern societies characterised by institutional complexity, pluralism/multiculturalism, and globalization. This unit considers what the ideal of democracy can mean in contemporary political life, and how (or whether) it can be institutionally achieved.


On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. explain basic and advanced concepts in democratic theory, including an analysis of major theoretical difficulties involved in the ideal of democratic rule;
  2. discuss the concepts and methodology of social choice theory;
  3. evaluate important issues relating to the history and politics of democracy, for instance, in relation to immigration, human rights, the rights of citizenship, minority rights, and armed conflict;
  4. identify relevant literature for the purposes of scholarly work on the nature and justification of democracy;
  5. apply independent research, reading and academic communication skills.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study