Citizens, Parties & Elections in Contemporary Democracies - POL00036H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sandra Leon-Alfonso
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18

Module aims

By completing this module students are expected to have a better understanding of the practice of democracy from a comparative perspective. Participants in this course will learn about the extent to which elections are an effective mechanism to control governments and how contextual and structural factors affect voters' capacity to hold governments to account. The module will also explore the role of political parties in defining the choices on offer to voters as well as their main strategies in electoral competition. In addition, this course will provide an overview of the evolution of the traditional forms of political participation and expression, such as voting and joining parties, as well as the new and less conventional ways in which citizens engage in politics. Students will explore both over time and cross-national variations in electoral participation and attitudes towards the political system and will analyse what factors explain those changes.

Module learning outcomes

By completing this module students are expected to have a better understanding of the practice of democracy from a comparative perspective. Participants in this course will learn about the extent to which elections are an effective mechanism to control governments and how contextual and structural factors affect voters' capacity to hold governments to account. The module will also explore the role of political parties in defining the choices on offer to voters as well as their main strategies in electoral competition. In addition, this course will provide an overview of the evolution of the traditional forms of political participation and expression, such as voting and joining parties, as well as the new and less conventional ways in which citizens engage in politics. Students will explore both over time and cross-national variations in electoral participation and attitudes towards the political system and will analyse what factors explain those changes.

This module will also equip students with a range of key transferable skills:

  • Understanding of the main changes in political participation and attitudes towards politics
  • Knowledge on the institutional, contextual and individual factors that affect citizens' electoral behaviour
  • Ability to analyse critically the limits of elections to control governments
  • Understanding the actual dynamics of electoral competition in UK and other OECD democracies
  • Capacity to engage critically in the debate about the crisis of representative democracy
  • At least some ability to analyse public opinion data

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than six weeks after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Downs, A. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. Harper. Ch. 14.

Almond, Gabriel & S. Verba. 1989 [1963]. The Civic Culture. Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Newbury Park: Sage. (A)

Dalton, R. J. 2006. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Western Democracies. Washington: CQ Press. (4th Ed.) (I)

Franklin, Mark N. 2004. Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch.5.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.