Less than a century ago democracy was a relatively rare form of government. Today it is typically seen as the only legitimate type of political regime. Indeed, the language of democracy has assumed such usage that even dictators employ supposedly democratic mechanisms (elections etc.) to bolster their legitimacy. How can we explain this shift? Why do some countries choose to transition to democracy and others do not? Why are some transitions more successful than others? This course will consider this recent trend, situate it historically and in relevant theory, both from comparative political science but also political economy, historical sociology and development studies. In addition to the key academic literatures, the course will draw heavily on real world examples, including in-depth country case studies.