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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3391 De Tocqueville and the Democratic Regime

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr SJD Green

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module


At the end of this module, students should be able to show:
i) familiarity with French intellectual history, the development of American society and the arguments about the nature of democracy in the early 19th century;
ii) familiarity with the relationship between historical change and political argument in the modern world;
iii) an ability to analysis and to criticise the arguments for and against liberal democracy as presented in one classic text, Tocqueville's Democracy in America;
iv) an ability to conduct a debate orally, as well as on paper, about the above.

Skills outcomes
Further enhances Common Skills listed below:

- High-level skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas.
- Independence of mind and self-discipline and self-direction to work effectively under own initiative.
- Ability to locate, handle and synthesize large amounts of information.
- Capacity to employ analytical and problem-solving abilities.
- Ability to engage constructively with the ideas of their peers, tutors and published sources.
- Empathy and active engagement with alternative cultural contexts.

- Skills in interpretation and analysis of complex documentary-based material.


With the passing of the Communist era, it has become increasingly clear that Tocqueville's Democracy in America, rather than Marx's Capital, represents the truly prophetic text of 19th century political sociology.

This module is intended to introduce students to that book, encouraging them to study it in detail; also to enable them to consider it in the wider context of Tocqueville's contemporary notes and letters; finally to promote student analysis of the nature of the democratic regime as envisaged by Tocqueville, examined both according to its philosophical foundations and in the light of its historical development.

Specific topics to be covered:
- the philosophy of democracy in America;
- democracy and equality in America;
- democracy and liberty in America;
- democracy and religion in America;
- democracy and family life in America;
- democratic culture and democratic manners in America;
- democracy and the future in America;
- comparison with Europe, especially Britain and France.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours356.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

- Exam preparation;
- researching, preparing, and writing assignments;
- undertaking set reading; and self-directed reading around the topic.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, two assessed exercises.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word written exercise or equivalent to be submitted by 12noon on Monday of the second week of the January examination period50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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