The Public in Politics - POLI6006

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Ben Seyd checkmark-circle


In democratic systems, citizens are the ultimate source of political authority. Yet citizens' place in modern democracies raises two key questions. First, how equipped are citizens to play their key democratic role? Second, how do we know what citizens want from politics and politicians? This course explores these two issues. It examines the nature and role of public opinion, focusing on how biases in individual information processing, and the provision of misinformation and disinformation, can impede individuals’ citizenship role. In today’s world of social media and fake news, can individuals form views and judgements in a way that contributes to the effective functioning of the democratic system? The course also examines the principal ways in which citizens’ views and judgements are identified. How are individual attitudes appraised, and what approaches and practices are best suited for measuring what the public wants of politics? Overall, this module enables students to explore how public attitudes are measured and some of the principal challenges to the role of citizens in modern democratic systems. The module enhances students’ conceptual and empirical capacities, and develops their skills and abilities for a range of careers, particularly those involving the measurement of citizen, public or consumer opinion.


Contact hours

Private Study: 128
Contact Hours: 22
Total: 150


Optional to the following courses:
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations (Bidiplôme)
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Placement Year
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Foundation Year
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Year in Continental Europe or North America
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Language
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with a Year in Asia-Pacific
• BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations with Quantitative Research
• BA (Hons) Economics and Politics
• BA (Hons) History and Politics
• BA (Hons) Philosophy and Politics
• BA (Hons) Sociology and Politics
• LLB (Hons) Law and Politics

Also available as an elective module and to short-term credit students

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Policy brief (1,500 words) (40%)*
Methodology outline (2,500 words) (60%)*

*this element is pass compulsory and must be passed to achieved the learning outcomes of the module

Reassessment methods
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Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the requirements on citizens for the effective operation of modern democratic systems.
2 Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the ways in which individuals process information and the implications of these for the effective role of citizens within the political system.
3 Show an ability to identify conditions in which individual information processing might be subject to shortcomings, and in which improvements in this processing might be induced.
4 Demonstrate a critical understanding of the different ways in which individual and collective attitudes within a society are measured.
5 Design a methodologically rigorous approach to the measurement of public opinion on policy or social issues.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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