POL30640 Deliberative Mini-Publics

Academic Year 2023/2024

Deliberative mini-publics (DMPs) are fast becoming an ever more prominent feature of contemporary democracies. Having first emerged in the latter part of the 20th century, they started to achieve prominence in the first decade of this century (starting with the British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly in 2005). Their use has mushroomed in the past few years, not least since the Irish use of DMPs over the past decade. A recent OECD report listed some 300 examples of the DMPs over the past two decades.

The purpose of this module is to examine what they are, how they vary, their strengths and weaknesses, and what the might contribute to our democratic system. They are generally seen as a good example of how democracies can innovate: to what extent is this true? What evidence is there of DMPs starting to become consolidated in our political system?

The content of the module will include the following key themes: defining DMPs and how they vary; where DMPs fit within deliberative democracy more generally; democratic innovations with a particular focus on citizen-centred reforms; the key characteristics of a DMP; government-led DMPs; the place of DMPs within representative democracy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module you will:
• have a good understanding of contrasting perspectives on deliberative mini-publics, their place in the wider study of deliberative democracy, what they can and might contribute in terms of democratic innovation;
• have developed your ability to read and analyse political science texts;
• have developed your skills in written and oral argument; and
• improve on your ability to write a well-structured extended essay in political science

Indicative Module Content:

Defining DMPs and how they vary (e.g. citizens' juries, deliberative polls, citizens' assemblies)
Where DMPs fit within deliberative democracy more generally
Democratic crisis and democratic innovations: citizen-centred reforms
The key characteristics of a DMP (e.g. sortition, facilitated deliberation; the role of experts, etc.)
Government-led DMPs (and how they differ from social science experiments)
The place of DMPs within representative democracy

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning




Conversation Class




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Seminar discussions
Peer-to-peer learning through discussion groups
Critical writing through extended essays
Autonomous student learning 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Class participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: A mid-term essay to be selected by student from a defined set of possible questions Unspecified n/a Graded No


Essay: A final essay to be selected by student from a defined set of possible questions. Unspecified n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on final paper on request. Feedback on mid-term paper will be provided on Brightspace.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 15:00 - 15:50