The curriculum consists of five parts (click or scroll down to read):
Click on the title to read the synopsis of a course
Core Competencies module (36 ECTS)
The objective of this course is twofold: to outline basic types of modern democracy, and to examine key constitutional institutions of democracy. The course consists of two parts. The first section will examine contemporary models of democracy (liberal, representative, deliberative, direct, gendered, and others). The second will review the essential institutions of democratic government (parliaments, coalition cabinets, presidents, constitutional courts, etc) in order to see how these help to fulfill the promise of different models of democracy.
The course introduces governance as the latest paradigm in the administration of public affairs. The students learn about the new approaches to solving public problems in the rapidly changing context of public policy where the achievement of public purposes is increasingly dependent on the interactions between the state, market, and civil society. It provides an overview of the definitions, concepts, and theories of governance and explores the emergence of the governance paradigm in relation to traditional public administration (TPA) and New Public Management (NPM) in the operation of public sectors around the world. The focus of the course is on the implications of governance for public policy-making and services delivery and includes case discussions of the issues and challenges of various forms of governance for the effectiveness of public action, and democratic accountability.
This course provides an overview of one of the key trends in democratic development - electronic democracy - and its counterpart in modern governance - electronic government. The objective is to expose students to the latest trends that will be important for democracy and governance over the coming decades. The course is explicitly focused on e-government solutions and applications such as cloud based services, predictive services, blockchain, e-voting, but also covers the normative challenges that these present. Examples from Estonia and from other countries from around the world are highlighted.
The course will examine the central institution of representative democracy – elections – including electoral systems, electoral behavior and electoral outcomes. The course is divided into two blocks: the first focuses on electoral behavior while the second examines electoral systems. The first half of the course presents the main theoretical approaches to voting behavior, as well as the most important empirical results. It also offers an overview of the major cross-national survey studies in the field. The second half of the course examines the characteristics of electoral systems, their prevalence in the world, ways to measure them, and their effects on party systems.
Civil society is one of the major concepts in political science, often discussed in relation to democracy, democratization and development. This course introduces the concept and scholarly research of civil society, which is usually distinguished from private sphere (family), economic self-interest and state. Civil society refers to organized voluntary social life, which can take more or less institutionalized forms (voluntary associations, non-profit organizations, social movements, and social entrepreneurship) at local, national or transnational level. The course has three parts - theoretical grounds (civil society and democratization), social capital, and organized citizens - and provides a broad empirical coverage with examples from different parts of the world. It introduces qualitative and quantitative ways of studying civil society.
The course will provide students with essential grounding in the political theory and ethics related to democracy and governance. The course will examine the main theoretical debates surrounding core concepts in political theory and the reasons for enduring disagreements about how to interpret these concepts. It will feature a strong interactive component (in the form of debates, disputes, and discussions) as well as a writing skills dimension via position papers.
Methods module (18 ECTS)
The objective of the course is to provide students a foundation in social science methodology that will serve as a basis for their studies in the rest of the program and for completing the MA thesis. The course has three parts: an introduction to core components of social science methodology, an examination of various epistemologies in the social sciences, and an examination of approaches to research design and case selection. It will also feature the pedagogical approach of a flipped classroom, in which in-class assignments and group work figures prominently.
This course provides an overview of the main approaches to qualitative inquiry and introduces students to the core data collection and analysis methods relevant for political studies broadly conceived. While the focus of this course is on enabling the students to understand and apply various qualitative and interpretive research techniques in their own research projects, we will also enquire broader methodological questions behind selected qualitative/interpretive methods to investigate the logic, process and overarching principles according to which we conduct our research. The course offers hands-on skills development in qualitative and interpretive data collection methods and data analysis. In addition to applied research skills, the students will be invited to reflect upon the issues of research ethics in designing their own projects and in conducing qualitative research in general.
The objective of the course is to provide an overview of different quantitative methods in the social sciences and help MA students acquire the necessary skills for applying these approaches in their own research. The course covers the basic elements of social science methodology with an emphasis on quantitative methods and approaches (tests for means, measures of association, regression analysis, logical models, graphing). The students will acquire skills necessary for understanding scholarly texts using statistical methods, especially regression analysis. The course includes multiple sessions where the covered methods are applied on real data and research questions using specific software. The ultimate aim of the course is giving students the skills necessary for using these methods in writing their MA thesis.
Specialization module (choose 30 ECTS among the following)
The course develops students' skills of writing policy-papers and planning advocacy campaigns. Students will be introduced to the main genres of policy-writing and the basic strategies and techniques for influencing decision-making. A core component of the course is a hands-on practical project for which students will identify a policy issue, analyze alternative policy options, and produce a position paper that outlines a convincing argument to support a preferred course of action. In the end of the project, students will plan their advocacy strategy for putting their position paper into action.
The aim of the course is to introduce the foundations of project management and give practical knowledge all through the project management cycle. During this course, students are advised to pay attention to different aspects of project management regarding project design, planning, implementation, and reporting. During the course, an overview is given about project management theory and methods. Based on these, students are asked to write a project proposal. Among other things, main project management rules and requirements are introduced and special attention is also given to report writing and project evaluation.
The objective of the course is to provide a comprehensive overview of the main institutions, policies and policy-making processes of the EU. The course seeks to familiarize students with the complex system of multi-level governance in Europe by scrutinizing the competences, interests and strategies of various actors at the European, national and subnational level, as well as the formal and informal rules and norms that govern their interaction. It explores the main institutions of the EU, their functioning and interaction with each other, national institutions and various non-governmental actors. It analyzes the evolution of the EU’s policy portfolio and discusses different national and subnational reactions to European integration.
Currently, Estonia offers about 1500 e-services in its e-governance ecosystem, producing over 340 million interactions in 2014 alone - almost a million a day. Last year, Estonian residents digitally identified themselves more than 8 million times and provided more than 6 million digital signatures. The spread of e-governance and its usage is indeed extensive. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the economic, political and social impact of Estonian e-services. This class is designed to focus precisely on the following: (1) What is the economic, political and social impact of Estonian e-governance and digital services? (2) How to accurately measure and model impact in these domains? (3) How to make use of and analyze large datasets generated by the e-government ecosystem? By design, this class is an empirical, problem-based class where you will acquire specific skills that are essential to understand and estimate the underlying concepts of impact evaluation in general and public e-services in particular. You will acquire knowledge on theories of technological diffusion and adoption, you will learn how to request and work with data automatically generated by the Estonian e-governance system, and you will apply powerful analytical techniques on actual data provided by the state institutions. The latter include data from the logs of X-Road, digital ID, internet voting, and various survey data that measure technology usage. Usage of system generated datasets for e-service impact analysis makes this class unique and first of its kind in Estonia.
The third sector plays a critical role in both fulfilling the principles of democracy and contributing to modern governance. This course asks how the third sector operates in its different forms and how it markets itself to perform its varied functions. The course will examine both theoretical frameworks explaining the development of the third sector as well as more practical case-studies of how third sector organizations perform in relation to both the state and average citizens.
There is no day without some news about some demonstrations (e.g., in relation to the climate change or against immigration), strikes (e.g., a general strike by public sector workers), riots, community mobilization for sustainable development or a protest mobilized via social media (e.g., #MeToo) - how to explain these struggles? This course provides some answers by introducing you some of the most important theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of social movements. We will investigate and read about the emergence of social movements and protest cycles, strategies of mobilization, as well as the repression and political consequences of mobilization.
This course aims to give a systematic overview of the populist radical right (PRR) party family in Europe. The populist radical right (PRR) is a party family that is rising in popularity throughout most of Europe. In recent years, the PRR has gained unprecedented momentum and success. At first, the populist radical right was a marginal political force on the extreme end of the spectrum in most European countries. Then, these parties began to use the European elections as a litmus test to increase their visibility and test their political platforms. Finally, the populist radical right began to win key elections and in 2014, Europe was hit by the "Eurosceptic earthquake" that saw PRR parties win an unprecedented number of seats in the European parliament. The last two years have also seen a rise in support for the populist radical right primarily due to the refugee crisis. The course will start with a conceptual definition of far-right and populist movements and then it will look at specific case studies in the European context.
The course examines the historical-philosophical dimensions of European identity and unity. It is meant as a complement to other courses on the political-institutional evolution of Europe. The course will provide a general overview of the historical evolution of understandings of Europe, including ancient Greece, early Christendom, the Middle Ages, and the emergence of the modern nation-state. It will also examine a number of concrete visions for Europe from different thinkers and politicians. Lastly, we will look at how Europe has also been ‘sub-divided’ into categories such as ‘West-East’, ‘Mitteleuropa’ and individual national perspectives.
The course aims to unpack globalization as a theoretical concept and as a set of political practices constitutive of international relations in the 21st century. It does so by presenting globalisation from an ideational viewpoint, i.e. as a set of concepts, theories, and ideas; by covering the issues of agency with a focus on different global actors, norms and policy outcomes; by studying intellectual and institutional resistance to globalisation. Finally, it gets into the debate on alternative scenarios for the global world in the years to come.
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the main theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of political culture. The course will examine the concept of political culture both as a dependent and an independent variable. It will analyze the components of political culture such as political trust, political support, participation, values, etc. It will compare and contrast different approaches on how to study political culture and will provide an overview of the main cross-national datasets used in the empirical study of political culture.
The aim of the course is to examine the role and relationship of religion in modern democratic politics. Specifically, the course will provide an overview of the different manifestations of religion and politics in the contemporary world as well as their evolution over the last decades. The course will serve as an introduction to the social scientific study of religion and politics. The course is organized in two parts. The first half focuses on developing analytic tools via the conceptualization of key terms, typologies, categories and theoretical approaches used by studies of religion and politics. The second part is devoted to the study of empirical processes and patterns of interaction between religion and politics in Western and Eastern Europe, and in traditionally Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox cultures.
The course will examine the role that ethnicity, nationalism and ethnopolitics play in influencing democracy and governance. It will start with an examination of key conceptual tools (ethnicity, nationalism, ethnopolitical situations, ethnopolitical regimes.) A second half of the course will discuss practical cases of both peace and conflict across a series of comparative countries.
The course aims to provide students with a conceptual framework and requisite analytical tools for studying the phenomena of history and memory in a democratic political context. It will examine the multi-level processes by which collective memories are constructed and interact with politics in both transitional and consolidated democracies, as well as at domestic and international levels. The course is structured in two main parts: (1) a theoretical part that critically reflects on existing concepts of memory and analytical frameworks for understanding memory’s interactions with history, politics and law; (2) an empirically-driven part that examines processes of transitional justice in regime change contexts as well as memory politics in established democracies. Discussions will draw on cases from around the world addressing issues of post-conflict reconciliation, historical accountability, post-communist lustration, the uses of history and the (international) politics of recognition and redress.
The primary goal of an internship is to provide practical experience in a professional activity related to democracy or governance. Students may choose internship possibilities either via partnerships developed by the degree program or on their own.
Electives module (6 ECTS)
Students may choose additional electives either from within or completely outside the existing curriculum.
MA thesis (30 ECTS)
The objective of the MA thesis is to demonstrate the acquisition of high-level analytical research skills via the execution of an independent, methodologically sound piece of social science research. A 20,000-word academic thesis on a topic of the student’s choice should demonstrate both knowledge and application of the basic analytical and methodological skills involved with studying Democracy and Governance.
Click here to see the DG programme in the Study Information System (SIS)
Do you have a question about the programme? Contact us: democracy [ät] ut.ee (democracy[at]ut.ee)