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POL3092 : Political Parties and Elections in the UK

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Alistair Clark
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00PiP 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 an 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.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A5590 minutes written in-person examination
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M452000 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 written 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.

Reading Lists