BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Investigating British Politics Through Experiments

Unit code POLI30182
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Making Sense of Politics POLI10301 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The course unit aims to:


  • Give students a broad theoretical and practical understanding of the contribution of experiments to political studies.
  • Equip students to interpret, design and analyse experiments in their future academic and professional life.
  • Contribute to the understanding of a particular research question in British public opinion and political behaviour by carrying out, analysing, and publishing (via a blog post or working paper) a survey experiment.

Teaching and learning methods

This course will be delivered in the format of a 2 hour lecture and by a 1 hour tutorial the following week. Students will choose the direction of the course during the first two weeks through online voting. During weeks 3-5, tutorials will be used to explore the different issues and examples of experiments introduced through the lectures and compulsory reading, and also to apply these to the students own experimental proposals. This course uses the model of learning through research, where students will design an experiment, and then analyse the results and evaluate the implementation of one of these student proposals. E-learning will be used where appropriate.

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and Understanding: 


  1. Understand and evaluate common forms of experiments that are used to investigate political attitudes and behaviour.
  2. Knowledge of a contemporary research question in UK politics.

Intellectual skills

Intellectual skills: 

  1. Understand the contributions and limitations of experimental methods in political science.
  2. Construct a specific research question and testable hypothesis from a general are of interest.
  3. Use the results of experimental research to construct arguments that combine empirical evidence with conceptual frameworks.

Practical skills

Practical skills: 

  1. Independent study.
  2. Ability to engage with intellectually challenging material.
  3. Communicate research results clearly and effectively.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Transferable skills and personal qualities:  

  1. Presentational skills.
  2. Stronger written communication skills.
  3. Practical experience in experiment design and implementation.
  4. Independent working.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Project output (not diss/n) 50%
Set exercise 50%

Recommended reading

Druckman, James, Donald Green, James Kuklinski, Arthur Lupia. 2011. Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Gerber, Alan S. and Donald P. Green. 2012. Field Experiments: Design, Analysis and Interpretation.


Blinder, S., Ford, R. and Ivarsflaten, E. (2013) ‘The better angels of our nature: How the antiprejudice norm affects policy and party preferences in Great Britain and Germany’, American Journal of Political Science


Enos, R.D., Fowler, A. and Vavreck, L., 2013. Increasing inequality: The effect of GOTV mobilization on the composition of the electorate. The Journal of Politics76(1), pp.273-288.


Bansak, K., Hainmueller, J. and Hangart (2016) ‘How economic, humanitarian, and religious concerns shape European atttitudes toward asylum seekers’, Science, 534(6309), p. 217-.


Campbell, R. and Cowley, P., 2014. What voters want: Reactions to candidate characteristics in a survey experiment. Political Studies62(4), pp.745-765.


Druckman,J., D. Green, J. Kuklinksi and A. Lupia. 2006. The Growth and Development of Experimental Research in Political Science. American Political Science Review, 100(4), 627-635.


Groves, Robert M., Floyd J. Fowler Jr., Mick P. Couper, James M. Lepkowski, Eleanor Singer, Roger Tourangeau. 2009. Survey Methodology, 2nd Edition. Wiley.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicole Martin Unit coordinator

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