EU447      Half Unit
Democracy, Ideology and the European State

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Marta Lorimer


This course is available on the MA in Modern History, MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in The Global Political Economy of China and Europe (LSE and Fudan). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course investigates various ways in which the State's authority to act has been underpinned in Europe, both ideologically and institutionally, in the modern period. It looks at how the State has been used to give expression to the democratic principle, and the ways this has been undermined or rejected. The module aims to provide students with a deep analytical understanding of the changing role of the State in European society. There will be three parts: A) Theorising the political (including sessions on: the State; collective self-rule and the liberal-democratic compromise; ideology, public opinion and the idea of democracy), B) Democracy in post-War Europe (parties and the structuring of political conflict; the emergence and crisis of the Welfare State; 1968, 1989 and the rediscovery of 'civil society'), and C) Contemporary European trends (ideological convergence and the politics of risk and security; political participation and populism; the challenge of transnational integration: 'governance', 'output legitimacy' and the diffusion of State power). The course will conclude with an overview on possible trajectories to come, under the heading 'post-ideological, post-democratic and post-statal? - Europe today and beyond'.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Michaelmas Term. The teaching will be delivered this year through a combination of online and on-campus formats (or if required, online only). This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term, and a review session will be held at the start of the Summer Term to prepare for the online assessment.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word unassessed essay

Indicative reading

  • Quentin Skinner (1989) 'The State', in Ball and Hanson (eds.) Political Innovation and Conceptual Change;
  • Peter Wagner (2008) Modernity as Experience and Interpretation;
  • James Tully (2002) 'The Unfreedom of the Moderns', Modern Law Review 63;
  • Margaret Canovan (2005) The People;
  • Michael Freeden (1996) Ideologies and Political Theory;
  • Claus Offe (1996) Modernity and the State: East and West;
  • Chantal Mouffe (2005) On the Political;
  • Frank Furedi (2005) Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right;
  • Nina Eliasoph (1998) Avoiding Politics;
  • Peter Mair (2006), 'Ruling the Void? The Hollowing of Western Democracy', New Left Review 42;
  • Jonathan White (2019), Politics of Last Resort: Governing by Emergency in the European Union (Oxford UP).


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

The online assessment for this course will be administered via Moodle.  Questions will be made available at a set date/time and students will be given a set period in the ST to complete the answers to questions and upload their responses back into Moodle.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2020/21: 34

Average class size 2020/21: 16

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving