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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

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

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.


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

This module will run during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Raphael Girard (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


More than thirty years after Francis Fukuyama’s famous claim in 1989 that the triumph of Western liberal democracy 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, Brazil, the Philippines 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 legislatures to courts and “fourth branch” institutions) and instruments (from executive orders to legislation and referendums).

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