GV443      Half Unit
The State and Political Institutions in Latin America

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Francesco Panizza CON 5.12


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Global Politics and MSc in Media, Communication and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

For MSc Comparative Politics. MSc Global Politics, MSc Media, Communication and Development and MPA Programme (all streams) and other graduate students may follow the course with permission from the course convener.

Course content

This is a course on contemporary Latin American politics.Its aim is to study the principal institutions and forms of organization influencing politics in the region since transition to democracy in the 1980s. Although due attention is given to country differences, the course approaches the study of politics in the region thematically rather than on a country by country basis. At the end the course students should have a good understanding of the working of the region's formal and informal  political institutions, including the state, accountability and the rule of law, presidentialism, populism, political parties, civil society and popular movements, human rights, crime and the "unrule of law" and the condition of democracy in the region. Focus on plurality of theories and frameworks of analysis with the aim of developing skills for independent analysis of the advances and setbacks of democracy in the region.



11 hours of lectures and 16 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT.


Lectures will run from week 1 - 10 in MT. There will be a revision lecture in week 11 of MT. 1 organization seminar on week 1, 10  seminars on weeks 2 -11 of the MT 


Formative coursework

All students are expected to submit one non-assessed essay.

Indicative reading

S. Mainwaring and A. Perez Linan (2015) Cross Currents in Latin America, Journal of Democracy 26 (1); Latinobarometro Report 2013 (www.latinobarometro.org); Morlino,L. (2014) La Calidad de las Democracias en America Latina (www.idea.int)  W.C. Smith (ed) (2009) Latin American Democratic Transformations, Wiley Blackwell;  G. Philip and F. Panizza (2011) The Triumph of Politics. The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, Polity;  G. O'Donnell, (1994) 'Delegative Democracy' Journal of Democracy 5, 1;. S. M. A. Mello (2009) Strong Presidents, Robust Democracies? Separation of Power and the Rule of Law in Latin America" Brazilian Political Science  Review 3(2);  K. M. Roberts (2008), 'The Mobilization of Opposition to Economic Liberalization' American Review of Political Science11.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the LT week 0.
Essay (25%, 3000 words).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 2.8
Merit 88.9
Pass 8.3
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 21

Average class size 2014/15: 11

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication