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The University of Southampton

PAIR2042 Reinventing Democracy: Innovation, Participation and Power

Module Overview

All over the world the ideal of democratic government has higher support than at almost any time in human history. Yet many citizens of democracies are very frustrated with the way the democracy they live in works. It is one thing to recognise the contemporary problems of democracy but another to know what to do about them. The aim of the module is to familiarise students with the best known tools for improving democratic governance, and to consider if and how democracy can be reinvented.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Develop skills in communicating using information technology and contributing to online crowdsourcing of data.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of different approaches and frameworks to understanding democratic practices and the relationship between citizens and the state (and other public authorities).
  • Distinguish between different democratic traditions and offer theoretically-informed analysis of developments in democratic practice
  • Develop skills in different types of written communication including writing case studies for general audiences.
  • Analyse data on participation and effective government.
  • Learn how to (re)design institutions to improve democratic governance


• Democratic citizenship: Who governs in Modern Democracies? • Barriers to Deep Democracy: The Voice of the Sceptics • The Limits of Elections • Reform and Innovation in Democratic Governance • Participatory Budgeting and the Mass Assemblies • Randomly Selected Mini-publics • Direct Legislation and Plebiscitary Democracy • Civic Technology, E-democracy and Algorithmic Governance • Nudging, Paternalism and Mass Behaviour Change • Citizens, Populists, Elites and Experts: Who are we sick of? • What do Democrats do? From Volunteering to Representing • Size, Democracy and Multi-level Governance • Improving Deliberation, Political Knowledge and Communication • Analysing Participatory Practices and Redesigning Institutions

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

2 weekly facilitated learning sessions taking the form of lectures, discussion groups, simulations and/or practice-based tasks. 5 1-hour fortnightly small-group sessions 2 half-day feedback drop-ins 2 weekly office hours. Timely return of correspondence (2 working days) and marking (11 working days).

Independent Study122
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Analytical essay  (2000 words) 60%
Case study  (2000 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework portfolio 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PAIR1001 OR PAIR1002 OR PAIR1004 OR PAIR1005

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