This course introduces key theories and models in the study of political behaviour and political psychology and seeks to encourage students to develop a critical appreciation of how people develop their political beliefs and preferences, and how this affects their engagement in politics. The course is also designed to provide a practical and applied introduction to the study of political behaviour, applying theories to everyday political life and making use of the wealth of empirical data available on public opinion and political psychology. It deals with questions such as how people form their political beliefs and their attachments to political parties, how they evaluate political candidates and leaders, and why people do or don’t get involved in different forms of politics, be it voting, protest or civic action.
Aims and Objectives
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- Explain some of the determinants of political attitudes and the processes through which people form their opinions
- Demonstrate understanding of key theories in political behaviour
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Recognise the different sorts of research methods that can help us identify and analyse political beliefs and behaviour
- Apply existing theoretical frameworks to explain contemporary examples of public opinion
Transferable and Generic Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Apply theories of political behaviour to empirical data relating to public psychology and political behaviour
This course considers some of the seminal contributions to modern political science and in the subfields of political behaviour and political psychology, addressing the following topics:
1. Mass Belief Systems
3. Political Socialisation
4. Information Processing, Heuristics and Choice
5. Communication, Framing and Biases
6. Voting Behaviour
7. Campaigns and Election Outcomes
8. Participation, Activism and Turnout
9. Trust in Government
10. Leaders, Approval and Competence
11. Macro Politics: Public Opinion and Policy
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
There is a double lecture every week, the first half of which is a traditional lecture and the second half of which involves an interactive seminar style session. There is a weekly seminar slot in which groups will meet to develop their research projects. Full attendance is expected. Throughout the course you will work in groups on a project-based assignment, and the content of the seminars will be focused on the successive stages of the assignment. The seminars are designed to enable you to reflect on what you have learned from lectures and reading and to develop plans for the project on political behaviour. The project will require you to work with a group of your peers. At the start of the course, groups will choose a project with an objective relating to one of the topics covered during the course. You will receive guidance on key readings, questions to ask about research design, a list of possible methods, suggested resources or data sources that you might use. The final decisions on the project design will be taken collectively by the group. The interactive part of the lecture will be dedicated to activities such as group presentations on theories of political behaviour related to your project, discussions of how to develop hypotheses and design the study and select methods (e.g. case studies, experiments, and analyses of survey data). I will provide all groups with advice and guidance on the assignment throughout the duration of the course. You will each write up your own report of the assignment.
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Other. Students will be encouraged to acquaint themselves with survey data from the British Social Attitudes Survey, British Election Study, American National Election Studies and other sources of information on political attitudes. They will be encouraged to relate ideas from the module to current events in politics, e.g. public opinion on particular issues, the public response to events. These sorts of material will also be relevant to the research project.
Lecture/seminar room with presentation equipment..
Larry M. Bartels (1993). Messages Received: The Political Impact of Media Exposure. American Political Science Review, 87, pp. 267-285.
Jon A. Krosnick and Donald R. Kinder (1990). Altering the Foundations of Public Support for the President through Priming. American Political Science Review, 84, pp. 497-512.
Arthur Lupia, Mathew D. McCubbins, and Samuel L. Popkin (eds.). (2000). Elements of Reason: Cognition, Choice, and the Bounds of Rationality.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Russell J. Dalton and Hans-Dieter Klingemann (eds.). (2007). Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Donald Green, Bradley Palmquist, and Eric Schickler (2004). Partisan Hearts and Minds. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Paul M. Kellstedt, and Guy D. Whitten. (2013). The Fundamentals of Political Science Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
David O. Sears, Leonie Huddy, and Robert Jervis (2003). Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shanto Iyengar and Donald Kinder (1987). News That Matters.. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
James A. Stimson (2004). Tides of Consent: How Public Opinion Shapes American Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Morris P. Fiorina (1981). Retrospective Voting in American National Elections. New Haven: Yale University Press.
John Zaller (1992). The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion . Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Assessment for this course will be through combination of a group research project.
30%: Assignment: Research proposal for the project
70%: Research project, an individual report of the research project carried out by the group.
Resit will be by resubmission of a research project.
The research project is designed as an empirical analysis of political behaviour. This may employ either qualitative or quantitative methods, e.g. it may use descriptive/inferential statistics or undertake a case study of a particular event or set of events. Key is that you must make use of empirical data to test theories encountered on the course. You will make use of an existing dataset (e.g. the British Election Study) or with your group create your own data.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
An internal repeat is where you take all of your modules again, including any you passed. An external repeat is where you only re-take the modules you failed.
Repeat type: Internal & External