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Parliaments and representatives - POL00110M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Luke Moore
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This is a comparative course looking at parliaments (or legislatures) and their members. The course will have a comparative focus on institutional arrangements of parliaments such as regime type, bicameralism and parliaments at the subnational level. The impact of parliaments’ actions on government accountability and policy outcomes will be considered. The course would also look at the behaviour of individual parliamentarians/legislators. This would involve looking at issues such as dissent and constituency focus to consider which theoretical approaches, such as rational choice, offer the best explanation for legislative behaviour. The course will consider a mixture of both positive and normative questions. For example how can we measure the impact of parliaments on policy, under what circumstances are second chambers influential, is a strong parliament a necessity for democratic development and do MPs spend too long on constituency matters.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Parliaments are ubiquitous to democracies, they need to formally approve all laws and they are often the central link between the people and the government. In addition to this many autocratic and hybrid regimes have some form of legislative body. Given their prevalence and importance this courses aims to make students aware of the academic debates surrounding parliaments. This course will look at the academic literature on the institutional arrangements of parliaments, their impact on policy and the behaviour of legislators. In doing this the course will engage with a range of theoretical perspectives such as representation theory and rational choice. This is a comparative course covering different institutional settings.

Module learning outcomes

After this course a student should:

  • Have an understanding of the range of roles which legislatures play in political systems.

  • Be able to critically compare the effectiveness of legislatures using empirical evidence.

  • Have a critical understanding of the different ways in which parliaments can influence policy.

  • Have an understanding of legislative behaviour and motivation.

  • Have an awareness of the different ways in which parliamentarians represent their constituents.

Module content

Proposed course structure

Introduction and parliamentary structures

  1. Introduction: the role of Parliaments

  2. Types of parliament: Bicameralism, Sub-national and supranational Parliaments

  3. Parliaments in democratising countries

The impact of parliaments

  1. Government accountability: questions and committees

  2. The impact of Parliaments on policy

Representation and legislative behaviour

  1. Introduction to members of parliament: who are they are how did they get there

  2. Gender

  3. Race and ethnicity

  4. Parliamentary behaviour: cohesion

  5. Parliamentary behaviour: local representation.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules




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 20 working days; 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


Blomgren, M. and Rozenberg, O. eds., 2015. Parliamentary roles in modern legislatures. Routledge.

Clayton, A., 2021. How do electoral gender quotas affect policy?. Annual Review of Political Science, 24, pp.235-252.

Druckman, J.N. and Thies, M.F., 2002. The importance of concurrence: The impact of bicameralism on government formation and duration. American Journal of Political Science, pp.760-771.

Fish, M.S., 2006. Stronger legislatures, stronger democracies. J. Democracy, 17,

Hix, S., 2002. Parliamentary behavior with two principals: Preferences, parties, and voting in the European Parliament. American Journal of Political Science, pp.688-698.

Jung, H., 2022. Influence of politicians’ ideology on their legislative activities: the case of South Korea. The Journal of Legislative Studies, pp.1-27.

Martin, S., Saalfeld, T. and Strøm, K. eds., 2014. The Oxford handbook of legislative studies. Oxford Handbooks.

Norton, P. ed., 2020. The Impact of Legislatures: A Quarter-Century of The Journal of Legislative Studies. Routledge.

Rich, T.S., 2014. Party Voting Cohesion in Mixed Member Legislative Systems: Evidence from Korea and Taiwan. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 39(1), pp.113-135.

Russell, M. 2013 Bicameralism in Theory and Contemporary Perspective in The Contemporary House of Lords: Westminster Bicameralism Revived OUP Oxford

Soontjens, K., 2022. Do politicians anticipate voter control? A comparative study of representatives’ accountability beliefs. European Journal of Political Research, 61(3), pp.699-717.

Strøm, K., 2000. Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies. European journal of political research, 37(3), pp.261-290.

Union, I.P., 2017. Global Parliamentary Report 2017 Parliamentary Oversight: Parliament’s Power to Hold Government to Account. France, Courand et Associés.

Wängnerud, L., 2009. Women in parliaments: Descriptive and substantive representation. Annual Review of Political Science, 12, pp.51-69.

Willumsen, D.M., 2017. The acceptance of party unity in parliamentary democracies. Oxford University Press

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.