Democracy in Theory and Practice

This open educational resource contains PowerPoint slides for a lifelong learning course which introduces different democratic theories and traces the development of modern mass democracy from ancient Greece to the present. The course is intended for adult learners and taught at university foundation level (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 7).

Democracy in Theory and Practice is offered as part of the Short Courses programme at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Open Learning. For further information, visit Short Courses.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • distinguish different models of democracy and their normative assumptions;
  • apply democratic theories to critically assess political institutions and practices;
  • reflect on the nature of citizenship and identify ways to participate in public life;
  • engage in dialogue about the meaning and value of democracy;
  • present arguments clearly and coherently.


This resource bundle includes nine PowerPoint presentations.  Please click the links below to download.

1) Introduction

2) Classic Models I: Athenian Democracy

3) Classic Models II: Civic Republicanism

4) Classic Models III: Liberal Constitutionalism

5) Modern Democracy I: Representative Government

6) Modern Democracy II: The Role of the State

7) Modern Democracy III: The Global Context

8) The Future of Democracy I: Alternative Models

9) The Future of Democracy II: Innovations and Reforms

Download all content: Democracy in Theory and Practice (zip file)

You can also download these free learning materials from TES Resources.


Cover image: Greek Rally Against Troika, by D. Byrne, CC BY 2.0.