module specification

GI6065 - Latin American Politics (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Latin American Politics
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module offers an examination of some of the principal challenges of Latin American societies and states today. Case studies illustrate aspects relative to national ‘arrangements’ (leadership, political institutions, political participation, political identities and economic and social integration), these in the presence of the US and the increasing importance of regional and extra-regional relations as well as global concerns for the environment, migration, poverty, indigenous and gender relations.

Module aims

The broad aim of this module is to question the assumptions about contemporary Latin America as a region and its place in the world and, in particular, to examine:

  • the underlying political ideas and trends instrumental in shaping Latin American politics today, including the role of the USA;
  • the internal politics of modern Latin American states and the role of these states within the region;
  • the impact due to globalisation and the rise of political and economic importance of other developing regions;
  • to encourage students to think about the complexities of problem-solving in this context.



The roots of the Latin American state; its characteristics; violence, populism, authoritarianism; transitions; the ‘pink wave’; social developments and environmental issues. Focus will be state-based with respect to Human Rights and the role of the US, as well as in terms of regional politics and the politics of the South -BRICS-. Case studies include gender relations, social movements, migration, the ‘war on drugs’, indigenous rights and other contemporary issues.

Learning and teaching

Teaching consists of a weekly one hour lecture followed by a one hour seminar discussion. Lectures will combine formal lectures with videos, written documents and internet material. Lecture notes and texts for use in class will be posted on line as will web-links and video links in support of the additional bibliography provided. The programme is posted in the Module handbook.

Class discussions and assessment will encourage reflective learning to develop transferable skills whilst encouraging personal development strategies and independent learning.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students will be better equipped to:

  • Demonstrate a understanding of recent  economic, social and political developments in Latin America;
  • Be able to assess critically the various models and approaches in explaining these developments;

The transferable skills you should have developed include:

  • The ability to communicate effectively in speech and writing according to academic conventions;
  • Research skills, including the ability to synthesise and analyse complex arguments and exercise critical judgement;

The capacity to work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management, as well as co-operating with other students to achieve common goals.


Assessment strategy

Assessment will be on the basis of coursework. Students will be required to produce a portfolio made up of two items: a country-specific analysis (1000 words) as well as a 2.500 word essay


Key texts include:
Barrett, P, Chavez, D & Rodriguez-Garavito, C.(eds) (2008) The New Latin American Left Utopia Reborn, Pluto Press (+ e-book)
Cameron, M.A. & Hershberg, E.(2010) Latin America’s Left Turns, Lynne Rienner Publishers
Diamond, L. Linz, JJ & Lipset SM (eds)(1999) Democracy in Underdeveloping Countries, Vol.4. Latin America, OUP
Europa World Year book, (2015) Routledge.
Foweraker, J, Landman, T.,& Harvey, N (2003) Governing Latin America, Polity Pr.
Galeano, E. (1997) Open Veins of Latin America, Monthly Review Pr, NY.
Gott, R. (2004) Cuba. A New History, Yale University Press
Green, D. (2012) Faces of Latin America, Latin American Bureau
Gwynne, R.N. & Kay,C.(2004) Latin America Transformed. Globalisation and Modernity, Arnold Publishers
Joseph, L.(ed)(2009) Brazil under Lula: economy, politics and society under the worker-president, Palgrave MacMillan (e-book)
Livingstone, G. (2009) America’s Backyard, Zed books
Millett, R.,& Holmes, J.S.(2008) Latin American Democracy: Emerging Reality or Endangered Species, Routledge
Munck, R.(2008) Contemporary Latin America, Palgrave MacMillan
O’Toole, G. (2007) Politics Latin America, Pearson Ed
Petras, J. and Veltmeyer, H (2009) What's Left in Latin America? Ashgate (e-book)
Smith, P.H. (2005) Democracy in Latin America: Political Change in a Comparative Perspective, OUP
Vanden, H.E & Prevost, G. (2006) Politics in Latin America. The Power Game, O.U.P
Wiarda, J.J(ed)(2011) Latin American Politics and Development, 7th ed. Boulder, Colo. (e-book)
On-line resources include: Journal of Latin American Studies, Latin America Politics and Society, Journal of Democracy, Social Panorama of Latin America, CEPAL Review, The Latin American Monitor, etc., and library journals on-line.