Skip to main content


Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW2153: Law, Democracy and Populism: The Rise and Fall of Constitutional Democracy

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Raphael Girard (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


Thirty years after Francis Fukuyama’s famous claim in 1989 that the triumph of Western liberal constitutionalism marks the “end of history”, constitutional democracy is now said to be in a state of “crisis”. Amongst the main drivers of the perceived threats to constitutional democracy is the rise of authoritarian populism across the world, from Hungary, Poland and Turkey to Venezuela, Ecuador and elsewhere.

In this module, you will learn – and critically reflect on – the main tenets of constitutional (liberal) democracy, as well as the defining features of one its main critiques, contemporary populism. The module is divided in two parts. The first part examines the key, theoretical components of both constitutional democracy and populism. In the second part, we turn to identify and discuss the main ramifications of contemporary populism, particularly as they relate to important legal and constitutional institutions (from parliaments to courts) and instruments (from legislation to referendums).

Teaching in this module will take the form of interactive, 2-hour seminars. This module is research-led and research-based: it will introduce you to undergraduate-level research and allow you to develop your own research, writing and presentational abilities as key transferable/employment skills. The research-inspired approach is reflected in the teaching methods (i.e. interactive seminars and discussion questions) as well as in the assessment methods (i.e. a research-based essay as well as a group seminar presentation on a case study of your choosing). As such, it is a module designed for self-motivating students who enjoy the challenge of independent research, reading and participation in class discussions.

Module created


Last revised