Course dates:

From 20 February to 26 March 2023

Free enrolment until 19 March 2023

Transitology is a concept and analytical framework applied in political and social science to analyse and assess political regime change and the subsequent consolidation process of democratic institutions, such as parliamentarians, elections, civil society, or the rule of law. It explains the different pathways how democratic institutions and regimes slowly consolidate and strengthen over time. Transitology also explains why weak and corrupted democratic institutions fail and backslide into authoritarian political practices and, subsequently, autocracies.

Such processes of transition and democratisation (transitology) have been seen, for example, in countries and societies in Europe after WWII in 1945, during and after the decolonisation process in Africa and Latin America in the 1960s, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Not all have been successful, and many are today authoritarian regimes or electoral democracies, if at all.

Regime change and the transition from one regime type and mode of governance to another do not say much about whether a regime is democratic or whether the rule of law, human rights, or good governance principles are adhered to. What consolidates and successfully transforms democratic institutions into ‘stable democracies’ are the pathways of participatory, inclusive, and trustworthy adherence and compliance with democratic rules and human rights. If that is not the case, the regime never becomes democratic in the first place. Regimes that have a short, decade-long experience of democratic elections but do not further strengthen the rule of law and civil society or non-partisan media become dysfunctional and most likely backslide into authoritarian rulership – as seen in many countries, including post-soviet Russia or post-colonial countries such as Nigeria, and post-junta regimes such as Venezuela.



The MOOC will start with general theories of democratisation, transition, and political regime change. It will analyse concepts of political and societal transition and change of regimes (democratisation). It will highlight different modes of governance, of which democracy is one mode, concept, and act to govern societies. The democratic transformation and consolidation of political regimes and institutions are seen as democracy in action.

Furthermore, in the MOOC, participants will discuss the various stages and phases of regime change/transition, and transformation/consolidation, including the shifts of political culture and habits and the role that the legacies of previous regimes play in Transitology and subsequent consolidation or deconsolidation of political regimes.

The MOOC runs over 5 weeks and is organised in 3 modules:

Module 1 - Transitology and Waves of Democratisation

  • Transitology: Why do we want to change a political regime?
  • Conceptual differences between Democratisation and Democracy, Regime Change and Regime Consolidation
  • Conditions and stages of political regime change, transition, and democratic institutions building
  • Transitional Justice’s pathways to regime consolidation
  • Theoretical framework of three ‘Waves of Democratisation’

Module 2 - Modes of Governance and Regime Consolidation

  • Modes of Governance and Government: authoritarian, anocratic, democratic- and the in-betweens
  • Electoral semi-authoritarian regimes and anocracies
  • Defective and consolidated democracies
  • Quality of democracy

Module 3 - Backsliding of Democracy and Restoring Deficits

  • Four stages of democratic consolidation and transformation of political institutions and civil society
  • Deconsolidation and backsliding of democratic practices and institutional performances (cases from v-dem, BTI, Polity V, and IDEA)

Learning Outcomes

Participants of this MOOC will learn about the different concepts, theories, normative and organisational frameworks, and setups, as well as historical and current best practices and case studies. They will learn how to use them analytically in their day-to-day fieldwork or for academic research purposes.

Participants will discuss…

  • theoretical and conceptual frameworks of transitology, such as the difference between the transition and transformation of political regimes
  • the concept of democratisation and democracy
  • different regime types: authoritarian, anocracies, and democracies
  • concepts of change theory and ‘tipping point’
  • inclusive versus exclusive processes of transition
  • democratic consolidation as a (slow!) process of attitudinal and behavioural change of society vis-à-vis political institutions.

They will learn to…

  • analyse the political process and the difference between institution building and the transformation/consolidation of institutions
  • detect and identify patterns and processes of consolidation of democratic (or autocratic) regimes and backsliding of democratic regimes
  • name the different stages of consolidation and de-consolidation of political regimes
  • outline the differences between electoral democracy and liberal democracy, between anocracies, authoritarian regimes, and autocracies
  • recognise the specific role of citizens and civil society and that of awareness, behaviour, and belief in regimes.

At the end of the course, participants will be able to…

  • assess case studies in countries and societies worldwide and of their own choice
  • write about and speak on any current political process of regime decline or strengthening of certain regime types.


The course encompasses 5 weeks with approximately 25 hours of active learning. It will have video lectures, self-studied case studies and readings, peer-to-peer learning through discussions and webinars as well as knowledge checks with quizzes, all aimed at developing and reinforcing personal critical reflection. It will focus on examples and current debates from different countries in the world within Eurasia, the Arab World, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia – all regions in which Global Campus Regional Programmes operate.


Free certificate of participation

At the end of the course, participants who have completed all discussions and quizzes will receive a free certificate confirming their participation.


Target Audience

This MOOC is designed for scholars of all levels, practitioners and field workers for development agencies and foundations, diplomats, human rights defenders and members of Civil Society who currently work and fight for democratic political transformation and regime changes in their countries.