Not available in 2019/20
GV443      Half Unit
The State and Political Institutions in Latin America

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Francesco Panizza CON 5.12


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Comparative Politics and MSc in Global Politics. 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.

The deadline for applications is 12:00 noon on Friday 5 October 2018. You will be informed of the outcome by 12:00 noon on Monday 8 October.

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.



10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

Lectures and seminars will run from weeks 1-5 and 7-11 in MT. There will be a reading week in week 6.


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 (; Morlino,L. (2014) La Calidad de las Democracias en America Latina (; 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 Science 11.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the January exam period.
Essay (25%, 3000 words).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 15

Average class size 2018/19: 7

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication