GE3208 - Democracy at the Movies

Offering Academic Unit
Department of Public and International Affairs
Credit Units
Course Duration
One Semester
GE Area
Area 2: Study of Societies, Social and Business Organizations
Equivalent Course(s)
PIA2200 or AIS2200
Course Offering Term*:
Semester B 2023/24

* The offering term is subject to change without prior notice
Course Aims

Democracy may be one of the most widely endorsed political ideas of our time. Yet it is also a vexed concept that has generated many a heated debate. This course introduces some fundamental notions and problems of democracy from a social science perspective. It does so through the use of a non-traditional pedagogical tool: movies. Motion pictures have long been used to advocate social policies, set political agendas, or win propaganda battles. They often both challenge and uphold traditional institutions and values. Over one semester, a set of internationally acclaimed, award-winning films will be screened in class and used as a tool for surveying and improving our understanding of a wide range of topical issues and concepts from the democracy literature. They include elections, voting rights, the role of a free press, dissent and repression, the rule of law, lobbying and corruption, among others. In addition to different strategies to formulate arguments and write about political movies, students will also be exposed to key social science readings on the concepts raised by each film screened in class. While recognizing the impact of the US movie industry, the course will move beyond Hollywood and critically survey Asian and European films.
The aim of the course is to equip students with instruments and skills to discuss ideas about, against, or in favour of the idea of democracy in their everyday lives, and beyond. Upon completion of the course, students will have developed the ability to actively exercise critical and conceptual thinking while, hopefully, enjoying a product of the entertainment industry.

Assessment (Indicative only, please check the detailed course information)

Continuous Assessment: 100%
Detailed Course Information


Useful Links

Department of Public and International Affairs