EU447      Half Unit
Democracy, Ideology and the European State

This information is for the 2023/24 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 Fudan) , MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Science (Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics) and MSc in Political Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply but that may not continue to be the case.

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; B) Democracy in post-War Europe; and C) Contemporary European trends. 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'.


20 hours of seminars in Autumn Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term.

A review session will be held at the start of the Spring Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word unassessed essay

One 10-12 minute class presentation

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).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the spring exam period.

The summative assessment will take the form of an e-exam in the Spring Term. E-exams are assessments run under invigilated exam conditions on campus. Students will complete the assessment using software downloaded to their personal laptops.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 21

Average class size 2022/23: 11

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication