Public Opinion: Nature and Measurement - POLI9560

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module provides students with a detailed introduction to the nature and study of public opinion. Opinion and attitudes are central to the choices that citizens make and to the way they behave, which in turn are core outcomes in politics. Yet the nature and formation of those attitudes are complex, and shaped by a range of individual and contextual factors, which are central subjects within psychology. This module therefore brings together perspectives from both political science and psychology, in helping students to understand how citizens form attitudes and opinions, the processes and considerations that underpin attitude formation, the factors and actors that influence these formative processes and the effect that citizens' attitudes have on their behaviour. The module will also consider the principal ways in which we identify and measure public opinion, notably through surveys. Underpinning the module will be the central question of whether the nature of citizens' opinions are consistent with the assumptions and demands of modern democratic states.


Contact hours

Private Study: 178
Contact Hours: 22
Total: 200


Compulsory to the following courses:
• MSc Political Psychology

Optional to the following courses:
• This module is available to all students on MA programmes within the School of Politics and International Relations.

Also available as an elective module

Method of assessment

Essay 1, 3000 words, 40%
Essay 2, 3000 words, 60%

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

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.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Understand and critically evaluate key perspectives and debates on the nature and formation of public opinion.
2 Have a critical understanding of the way in which public attitudes may be said to be 'constructed', and of the principal factors that influence this construction.
3 Evaluate the role of external agencies in shaping the information to which citizens are exposed, and the processes by which citizens internalise such information.
4 Have a critical understanding of academic debates over the informational and 'rational' content of public attitudes
5 Evaluate academic arguments over how far citizens' attitudes and behaviour are consistent with the requirements of democratic theory.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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