TDDEM 100 : Democracy in the 21st Century


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Examines the challenges to democracy in New Zealand and globally arising from high inequality, the changing information environment, and authoritarian movements. Uses a transdisciplinary approach to understand the interplay of economic, legal, technological, and cultural factors. Explores innovative ideas for ensuring democratic integrity and building more inclusive, equitable, and participatory democracies.

Course Overview

Democracy is facing unprecedented challenges in the 21st century. The rise of authoritarianism, populism, and extremism threatens to erode the values of democracy and the norms of political decency. The influence of vested interests in politics undermines the voice of ordinary citizens and prevents action on urgent policy issues such as climate change. Meanwhile, the rise of social media, artificial intelligence, and other technological developments are rapidly altering the information environment. The stakes are high. Such trends have the potential to undermine the integrity of our democratic institutions and to create a world where the few hold the power, and the rest are left behind.

By drawing on the expertise of academics from several disciplines across the university, this course aims to deliver an up-to-date overview of the state of democracy globally and locally. In this course, you will collaborate with students from across disciplines to understand the challenges and opportunities facing democracies like Aotearoa New Zealand and to consider how democracies can be strengthened and how they might need to evolve to adapt to a changing world and meet high standards of justice and legitimacy. 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Arts

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the threats and opportunities facing democracies today, especially Aotearoa New Zealand (Capability 1, 3 and 4)
  2. Analyse the interactions between economic, legal, social, and communication systems and the functioning of democratic systems of government (Capability 3 and 4)
  3. Critically evaluate competing visions for democratic reform (Capability 4 and 5)
  4. Identify and explain the primary features of transdisciplinarity (Capability 3)
  5. Effectively collaborate within a diverse team while engaged in discussion of a complex societal problem (Capability 1, 6, 7 and 8)
  6. Apply one or more transdisciplinary approaches to address a complex societal problem (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  7. Communicate effectively using at least two different channels (written, oral, or visual) to convey complex information (Capability 6 and 7)
  8. Reflect on the use of transdisciplinary approaches for complex problem-solving (Capability 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 80% Individual Coursework
Group assignment 20% Group Coursework
No examination. 
Engagement in studios is compulsory to pass this course.  

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in (150 hours in total)

For this course, you can expect 12 hours of lectures (plenary sessions), 22 hours of studios (11 x 2 hour studios), 44 hours of reading, viewing vidoes and other creative works and thinking about the content and 70 hours of work on assignments (individual and group) and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

This is a transdisciplinary course, which means you will get to engage with a diverse range of perspectives, from inside and outside your chosen discipline.    

A 2-hour studio session is timetabled weekly. This session involves small group work and is associated with practical tasks and skill development linked to assessment and learning outcomes.  You will be required to attend studio sessions during the semester. Engagement marks are awarded and contribute towards assessment.  

  • Attendance is expected at scheduled plenary sessions, many of which are interactive.  
  • Engagement in studios is compulsory. 
  • Weekly plenary sessions will be available as recordings. However, where lectures involve workshop-style interactions the recordings will not capture the associated discussions.  
  • Other learning activities including studios will not be available as recordings.  
  • The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.  
  • Course material will be available where possible on the course’s Canvas site.  
  • Staff office hours will be available either in-person or via Zoom  
  • There is no final exam – the course is 100% internally assessed. 

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

We encourage and welcome student feedback
Class Reps are appointed for each stream. During the course the class representatives in each stream can take feedback to the course coordinator and to the staff-student consultative committees.
Formative feedback will be conducted at mid semester and at the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through the University’s course evaluation. The lecturers and course co-ordinators value all feedback.
Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery during the course and also for future years.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Well-being always comes first
We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 09/11/2023 12:22 p.m.