Module Catalogue 2020/21

POL1047 : Power, Participation and Democracy: Comparative Perspectives (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Geoff Horn
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of how key political institutions and political processes operate in modern democracies. It does so by posing broad and important questions such as 'How is political power distributed between institutions and actors within a political system?’, ‘What factors determine the extent and effectiveness of political participation?’ and ‘How, and to what extent, are democratic ideals realised in real-world political systems?’ The answers to these questions will be discovered by taking a comparative approach which will draw upon a range of examples from a number of national political systems, including for instance the UK, the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Russia and others. The module provides an accessible and stimulating foundation for further study in Politics (no previous study of Politics is necessary) and it is also designed as a stand-alone introduction for those students interested in taking Politics as an outside option.

Outline Of Syllabus


1.       Introduction to the module
2.       Why compare?
3.       Power and Democracy (part 1)
4.       Power and Democracy (part 2)
5.       Organising Democracy: The Constitutional Framework (part 1)
6.       Organising Democracy: The Constitutional Framework (part 2)
7.       Leading the Polity: Presidents and Prime Ministers (part 1)
8.       Leading the Polity: Presidents and Prime Ministers (part 2)
9.       Decline or Change? The Role of Legislatures (part 1)
10.       Decline or Change? The Role of Legislatures (part 2)
11.       Political Parties: Fit for Purpose? (part 1)
12.       Political Parties: Fit for Purpose? (part 2)
13.       Free and Fair? Elections in Modern Democracies (part 1)
14.       Free and Fair? Elections in Modern Democracies (part 2)
15.       Political Participation I: The Mobilization of Citizens "In" and "Out" of Politics.
16.       Political Participation II: Protest, Checkbook Participation and Social Capital.
17.       Interest Group Politics I: Why do democratically elected governments listen to unelected interest groups?
18.       Interest Group Politics II: Do interest groups enhance or undermine democracy?
19.       Multi-level Politics: Above and Below the Nation State (part 1)
20.       Multi-level Politics: Above and Below the Nation State (part 2)
21.       Conclusion: Do Political Systems Make a Difference?
22.       Revision

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

To secure a foundational understanding of the varieties, possibilities and limits of comparative analysis as a research method in the study of politics.

To develop a foundational knowledge and understanding of the key institutions, processes and concepts in the analysis of political systems.

To gain a wider understanding of the basic characteristics of a number of different national political systems and their institutional dynamics.

To equip students to undertake further comparative study and/or deeper study of particular national political systems.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The module will allow students to develop the following skills:

The ability to think analytically and critically, particularly in the form of comparative evaluations

The ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of sources to address comparative political research questions.

The ability to present answers to such research questions effectively both in oral and written forms.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1102:00102:00Prep & completion of essay; revision for mock & final exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00A 1.5hr mock examination held in teaching wk 11
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:006hrs prep for each seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:004x1hr surgery to address stud queries/prepare for essay & feedback
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce students to the key information, concepts and debates that will provide the basis for self-directed study and seminar discussion. These lectures will draw upon a range of political systems to provide relevant examples.

The seminars will provide an environment in which students can explore and deepen their understanding of the issues raised in lectures and readings through discussion in a small group context with their peers, via the exploration of case studies and through asking questions. The seminars will also provide the context in which students will develop many of the skills outcomes associated with the module. They will be central to the development of critical thinking and data synthesis skills. The seminars, with their requirement for advance preparation, will promote self-management skills while the in-seminar discussions will provide opportunities to develop and enhance interaction skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401500 words
Practical/lab report1M10Seminar participation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The 1500 word essay will provide students with an opportunity to explore one of the topics in greater depth. It will assess the student’s ability to place, synthesise and evaluate the material gained from lectures, seminars with reading undertaken as part of independent study.

The unseen examination will assess students understanding across the broader curriculum. Students will be required to answer examination questions on different topics to those addressed by their 2000 word essays.

The seminar participation will assess the quality of students’ contributions to group discussions.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.