Large protest with white house in distance

Examining global change: from populism, democracy and identity politics, to inequality and poverty

Module details

  • Offered to 1st years
  • Tuesdays 16.00-18.00
  • 8 weeks (autumn or spring term)
  • Planned delivery: On-campus (South Kensington)
  • Non-credit only
How to enrol

Throughout the world there has been rising support for populist movements with, in places, authoritarian leaders at their helm. There is also a decline in voter turnout leading many observers to argue that democracy is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy.

This module considers democracy as a case study for the processes of social change. You will evaluate some potential challenges to democracy throughout the world, such as poverty and inequality, and consider possible responses. Additionally, you will explore how to analyse these events and shifts through an intersectional lens, allowing you to examine how and why people vote as they do, and what impacts their decision making.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be better able to:
  • Engage with the changing nature of democracy, proposing a redesign supported by the conceptual frameworks covered in this module
  • Assess how and why democracy is changing.
  • Examine and debate core current socio-political topics and events in a detailed, structures and multi-disciplinary way.
  • Critically examine measurement and definitions.
  • Work individually and collaboratively with other students to present ideas and engage with constructive feedback.

Indicative core content

Flags of the World

  • Is democracy in crisis?
  • Should the people rule? Citizens and Governance
  • Populism and inequality
  • Intersections and identities
  • Validity and methodology in the social sciences
  • Media and ‘fake news’
  • Alternative forms of governance

Learning and teaching approach

This module is designed to present a range of imperial evidence and case studies, different data sources with different narratives and to give you space to form your own ideas and arguments about these current socio-political events. The focus will be on the exploration of different case studies, appropriate theories and evidence. The classes, debates and discussions will be structured so that everyone can present their own interpretation of these events. Most classes will include task-based learning activities for both individual and peer discussion to then feed into larger plenary with the whole group.

You will submit assignments through the module VLE, though which you will receive written feedback commenting your assessments. You will receive feedback within two weeks of submission.


  • Coursework: Essay - 1200-1500 words (80%) 
  • Practical: Group presentation (up to 5 minutes per student) (20%)

Key information

  • ECTS value: 0
  • Requirements: You must be prepared to attend all classes and to spend about an hour a week preparing for each session
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 4 course. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌