Skip to main content


POL3092 : Political Parties and Elections in the UK

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Alistair Clark
  • 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
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials112:0022:00Pre-recorded lecture materials
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities51:005:00Quizzes; guided tasks
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities112:0022:00Annotated/guided reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PIP Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1129:00129:00Assessment preparation and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk111:0011:00PIP Student Consultation and Feedback
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lecture-related material 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. The Q&A feedback hour gives students the chance to drop in and ask questions of the ML, who may also use the time to expand on recorded lectures and clarify key themes. Structured, guided learning activities will include quizzes to allow students to check their understandings on aspects of political parties and electoral behaviour; personal capture recordings and annotated readings, 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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M20500 words essay plan.
Essay1M803,000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay plan will assess students’ initial engagement with the question while both the indicative bibliography and essay plan will help promote academic 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 essay will test students’ in-depth analytical and synthesis skills on a question relating either to political parties and party systems, or electoral systems and behaviour.

Reading Lists