Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 7 Hours.
Lecture 14 Hours. (14 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Group Survey Design Project  25%
Semester Assessment 2,000 words  Data Analysis Report  25%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   50%
Supplementary Exam

Learning Outcomes

Completion of this module should equip students with:

- a detailed and critical knowledge of the history of contemporary British electoral politics
- a detailed and critical knowledge of the major approaches to the study of elections
- a basic working knowledge of how to conduct opinion surveys and focus groups
- a basic working knowledge of how to handle quantitative data using SPSS

Brief description

This module will introduce students to the main elements of electoral politics, and examine how elections are studied.


The module will first cover the history of modern electoral politics in the United Kingdom, before going on to examine major 'macro' influences on election outcomes, such as electoral systems. The focus will then shift to examining 'individual-level' understandings of elections, by exploring the formation of public opinion and theories of individual voting behaviour. Finally, students will be introduced to the practical tools of election analysis, such as large-N option surveys, small-N focus groups, and how to analyse data using the computer programme SPSS.


1. Introduction: Elections and Democratic Politics
2. The Historical Context, 1: Elections to Westminster
3. The Historical Context, 2: Devolved, European and Local Elections
4. The Actors, 1a: The Voters - Identity Theories of Voting
5. The Actors, 1b: The Voters - Issues, Leaders, and 'Valence'
6. The Actors, 2: Political Parties and Elections
7. The Actors, 3: the News Media and Elections
8. Electoral Analysis, 1: The Use of Aggregate Results and Surveys
9. Electoral Analysis, 2: 'Community Studies' and Focus Groups
10. Electoral Analysis, 3: How to construct and analyse a data-set
11. Issues in Electoral Politics, 1: Turnout and Political Disengagement: Why Bother Voting?
12. Issues in Electoral Politics, 2: Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform
13. Issues in Electoral Politics, 3: Referendums
14. The Future of Electoral Politics in the UK
15. Conclusions and Exam Briefing


Elections are fun. They are also, however, highly important political events in representative democracies. Elections provide the most regular mechanism for the general public to influence politics, and they play a central role in the allocation of political power. The main aims of this module are:

- the examine the major features of electoral politics: why elections matter, and how they are won and lost
- to review how scholars have approached the study of elections
- to introduce students to some of the major tools of electoral analysis, including the conduct of surveys and focus-groups, and the handling of quantitative and qualitative data.

Transferable skills

Completion of the module should enable students to develop the following transferable skills:

- written and oral communication
- group work
- project management
- IT skills
- analytical thinking
- independent research skills
- understanding of quantitive information

10 ECTS credits

Reading List

Recommended Text
David Denver Elections and voting behaviour in Britain Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6