Political Behaviour in Britain - PO638

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR BJ Seyd


None, although students will be advised of the desirability of having undertaken a prior quantitative analysis module (e.g. PO657: Political Research and Analysis, or equivalent).





The module examines the nature of political behaviour in Britain today. It focuses on two key issues. The first is the way that citizens participate in politics. The module explores the nature of political participation, and how this has changed in the last few decades. It also examines the characteristics of people who participate, and the factors that motivate individuals to engage in different forms of political participation. The second key issue examined is voting behaviour. The module considers how far electoral decisions are shaped by stable ‘sociological’ factors, and how far voters today are less closely aligned with parties and more open to the influence of particular policy messages, personalities and media coverage. Alongside this focus on the behaviour of citizens, the module also considers the activities of key intermediary organisations, such as legislators. Throughout, the module seeks to develop students’ understanding and analytical skills, by considering theories and models of political behaviour along with the way data and other evidence can be brought to bear in testing the validity of these models.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

150 hours including 22 hours lecture/seminar; 128 study hours

Method of assessment

100% coursework (2 essay of 3,000 words 40% and 60%)

Preliminary reading

RUSSELL DALTON Citizen Politics, 6th edition, CQ Press (2013)
DAVID DENVER, CHRIS CARMEN AND ROB JOHNS, Elections and Voters in Britain, 3rd edition, Palgrave (2012)
CHARLES PATTIE, PATRICK SEYD AND PAUL WHITELEY Citizenship in Britain, Cambridge (2004)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to:
* Understand the role that behavioural approaches can play in describing, analysing and understanding political outcomes, along with an appreciation of the main debates over the role of behavioural approaches to political analysis.
* Apply core theories and models of political behaviour to some of the key political issues in contemporary Britain.
* Use primary and secondary evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of these models in explaining patterns of political behaviour among citizens and groups.
* Understand the main causes of various forms of political behaviour among individuals and groups.
* Analyse the role that external agencies (notably the media) play in shaping patterns of individual and group behaviour.

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