Module Catalogue 2022/23

POL3092 : Political Parties and Elections in the UK

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Alistair Clark
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
POL1015The Westminster System: Politics of the UK
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module is centrally concerned with party and electoral politics in the UK. Through an examination of three key aspects of the electoral process in the UK - parties, institutions and voters - this module aims to:

* Introduce the main political parties in the UK, their ideologies, policies and leadership;
* Assess party competition in the UK's increasingly-diverse multi-level party systems;
* Develop an understanding of how electoral systems and institutions in the UK impact upon the electoral process;
* Assess the various models of voting behaviour and their applicability to modern electoral competition in the UK.

Outline Of Syllabus

An indicative outline of the syllabus / lecture programme for this module is as follows:
1. Introduction to the Module
2. The Development of the UK Party System
3. The Role and Functions of Political Parties
4. The Conservative Party
5. The Labour Party
6. The Liberal Democrats
7. The SNP
8. Beyond the Mainstream; Minor Parties in the UK
9. The UK’s Multi-Level Party Systems
10. Developments in Party Organisation & Funding
11. Election Campaigning 1
12. Election Campaigning 2
13. Political participation & activism in parties
14. Electoral Systems and their Impact in the UK 1
15. Electoral Systems and their Impact in the UK 2
16. Electoral systems and their impact in the UK 3
17. Explaining voting behaviour 1
18. Explaining voting behaviour 2
19. Explaining voting behaviour 3
20. Contemporary challenges in British elections
21. Contemporary challenges to British Parties
22. Conclusion: Political Parties and Elections in the UK

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

1.       Assess the development of the main British political parties;
2.       Analyse the dynamics of party competition in the UK;
3.       Understand the impact of electoral systems upon the representative process in the UK;
4.       Provide informed and considered analyses of why and how people vote the way they do;
5.       Critically assess the challenges facing political parties and the representative process in the UK.

The module builds upon concepts introduced and knowledge gained in POL1015, and seeks to develop student knowledge for further modules and independent study in POL3046 Dissertation and POL3048 Project in Politics.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

Subject specific skills

• Analyse the development of the UK’s national and devolved party systems
• Identify and assess the sources and development of party ideology
• Understand how the UK’s parties compete in ideological and policy terms
• Assess the impact of leadership and party performance in office
• Analyse developments in party organisation, funding and election campaigning in British politics
• Understand the impact of electoral systems in the UK
• Identify and assess the key models of voting behaviour in the UK context

Cognitive/intellectual skills

• Managing & Prioritizing Knowledge: identify relevant and subject-specific knowledge, sources and data; manage such information in an independent manner
• Analytical Thinking: identify, understand, interpret and evaluate relevant subject-specific arguments made by others; construct independent arguments
• Critical & Independent Thinking: ability to think critically and construct one’s own position in relation to existing and ongoing debates in the field

Key skills

• Communication Skills: ability to communicate clearly with others, both orally and in writing
• Clear organisation of information: show efficiency in the organisation of large amounts of complex information and the ability to identify, describe and analyse the key features of the information
• Teamwork: ability to work with others in a team, negotiate conflicts and recognize different ways of learning
• Diversity: ability to acknowledge and be sensitive to the range of cultural differences present in the learning environment
• Self-Reflexivity: ability to reflect on one’s own progress and identify and act upon one’s own development needs with respect to life-long learning and career development
• Time Management: ability to negotiate diverse and competing pressures; demonstrate ability to work efficiently to deadlines

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00PiP Lectures
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities51:005:00Quizzes; guided tasks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PIP Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1162:00162:00Assessment preparation and completion
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce students to the key terms, concepts, and texts in the study of political parties and elections in the UK. They will be divided into two main sections – a focus on political parties and the party system, followed by an emphasis on the electoral systems and voting behavior in the UK. Small group teaching will provide a live, synchronous environment in which students can discuss readings, and apply their theoretical insights to current events in UK party politics & elections. Structured, guided learning activities will include quizzes to allow students to check their understandings on aspects of political parties and electoral behaviour; guided tasks, including with primary sources such as party manifestos and data where appropriate, will encourage deeper reflection on the parties’ programmes and electoral behavior in the UK.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination991A5048hr take home exam.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 words essay or policy briefing (i.e. students offered choice between essay or Policy Briefing)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay or (optional) policy briefing will test students’ in-depth analytical and synthesis skills on an in-depth question relating either to political parties and party systems, or electoral systems and behaviour. Optional policy briefings are offered as an alternative to the essay for students who wish to develop their employability skills. In addition to being a summative assignment, the feedback for this will produce key information for students to develop their thinking going forward. The open book examination will test broader knowledge of the module content. This will be sectioned, meaning that students have to answer questions from each of the sections of the module (parties & party systems; electoral systems and voting behaviour). Together both forms of assessment will ensure that the learning outcomes of the module are achieved.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.