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POL3092 : Political Parties and Elections in the UK

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Tom Caygill
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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 idealogies, 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. Beyond the Mainstream; Minor Parties in the UK
8. The UK’s Multi-Level Party Systems
9. Developments in Party Organisation & Funding
10. Election Campaigning 1
11. Election Campaigning 2
12. Political participation & activism in parties
13. Electoral Systems and their Impact in the UK 1
14. Electoral Systems and their Impact in the UK 2
15. Electoral systems and their impact in the UK 3
16. Explaining voting behaviour 1
17. Explaining voting behaviour 2
18. Explaining voting behaviour 3
19. Contemporary challenges in British elections
20. Contemporary challenges to British Parties
21. Brexit and Party Politics
22. Conclusion: Political Parties and Elections in the UK

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:003 groups of approx. 20 students
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
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 theoretical and empirical examples drawn from the political party and electoral behaviour literature 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 and group-working skills.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50Exam paper will be sectioned. Section 1: Political parties and party systems. Section 2: Electoral systems and voting behaviour
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M50Students will be given a choice of either selecting an essay or producing a ‘policy briefing’ report. 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The sectioning of the exam paper will ensure that students must demonstrate knowledge of both the major strands of the module – parties and party systems; electoral systems and voting behaviour – thereby addressing each of the intended knowledge outcomes.
The continuous assessment essay/briefing report will allow students to demonstrate in-depth subject specific knowledge, while at the same time being oriented towards intellectual and key skills-based outcomes. In particular, the policy-briefing option will be specifically designed to emphasise skills that are likely to be useful to students in seeking employment, while still being rooted in academic practice.

Reading Lists