School of History

HST7305 - Democracy: Ancient and Democracy: Modern

Module code: HST7305

Credits: 15

You can choose to study the module as a whole for the entire year, or opt to study the material covered in either the first or second semester as freestanding modules.

This module traces the history of theories of democracy in both the ancient and the modern world. It is divided into two distinct sections, allocated to semesters I and II, and corresponding to ancient and to modern thinking about democracy respectively.

The aim of the module is to explore historical controversies surrounding the relationship between key democratic institutions and values. The political institutions and mechanisms examined include voting, selection by lot, parliamentarism, assemblies, committees and governments, while the political values and issues examined will include equality, liberty and representation.

The module will investigate the clash between institutions and values as examined in influential documents and treatises concerned with ancient Greece and Rome, seventeenth-century England, revolutionary America and France, and modern mass democracy. By the end of the module, you will have an advanced understanding of the history of debates about ancient and/or modern democracy, and be familiar with the detailed concerns of a selection of the most important theorists of democracy on such pressing issues as popular sovereignty, egalitarianism, freedom and public opinion. Figures studied on the course include: Aeschylus, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Sièyes, Weber, Schmitt.