This course introduces students to core debates relating to democratic developments and challenges to democracy in Europe. The course is anchored in a multi-level perspective, covering both the national and the European perspective. The lecture discusses the institutional and cultural underpinnings of democracy as well as current challenges in the form of the rise of populism and democratic backsliding and the responses that democratic actors can provide to these developments. It equips students with a solid understanding of the key concepts from democracy research and recent developments in this field.

The course is composed of a lecture and accompanying seminar that allows students to discuss and apply concepts and approaches introduced. It is required to enrol in the lecture course in parallel during the same semester. The lecture covers core concepts of democracy studies including institutions political parties, citizens, and ideology. It places particular emphasis upon the phenomenon of democratic backsliding, the way in which it affects both national and EU politics, and the way in which institutions at both levels have responded to the challenges it poses. The seminar sessions complement the lecture by allowing students to apply and discuss the concepts covered in the lecture to concrete case studies and to engage in small empirical projects of their own.