Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

PAIR2031 Comparative Party Politics

Module Overview

Political parties are key actors in articulating popular demands and representing them in the policymaking process, mobilizing the masses and recruiting and socialising political elites. This course examines how parties perform these functions in Western European states. The first part of the module will focus on the main theoretical approaches to understand political parties. The second part of the module will analyze in detail recent changes in party organizations, party ideology as well as the role of parties beyond the confines of the nation state at the EU level.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Demonstrate understanding of core concepts relevant to party politics in established democracies in Western Europe
  • Summarise the main empirical facts about parties and party systems in Europe
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Show understanding of the theories explaining the key aspects of party politics, such as internal party organization and party competition
  • Understand the changing role of political parties in contemporary democracies
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand how various phenomena in party politics can be studied empirically in a systematic way


This course considers some of the seminal contributions to modern scholarship in the field of party politics. This course takes an explicitly comparative approach and doesn't focus on certain parties/countries. Topics to be covered include: 1. Introduction: Why parties? 2. The ‘Golden Age’ of Political Parties 3. Party Models 4. Party Government 5. Parties and Party Systems 6. Party Families 7. Party Organization 8. Parties beyond the state I 9. Parties and the crisis of responsiveness 10. Parties today: death or decline?

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

2 hours of lectures per week. All will be recorded and posted on Blackboard. Lectures will be delivered either face to face or online only depending upon University and Public Health England Guidance at the time. Total of 24 hours of lectures (2 hours per week X 12 weeks) per module. Weekly student participation in online discussion boards. 1 hour per week delivered asynchronously. (1 hour X 12 weeks)

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Databases:. Comparative Political Data Set, 1960-2017. European Representative Democracy (ERD). Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES). Manifesto Project Database (MARPOR) Political Party Database (PPDB).

Dalton, Russell J. and Wattenberg, Martin P. (2002). Parties Without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies. 

Journal Articles. Articles from journals such as Party Politics, Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science.

Dalton, Russell J., Farrell, David M. and McAllister, I. (2011). Political Parties and Democratic Linkage: How Parties Organize Democracy. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Discussion board activity 25%
Research project 50%
Research proposal 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PAIR1001 OR PAIR1002 OR PAIR1004 OR PAIR1005


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings