BASS Social Anthropology and Philosophy

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Understanding Political Choice in Britain

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI31041
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


  • POLI31042 will provide students with an advanced understanding of the main controversies in the analysis of British elections. The course will develop students' understanding of the main methods used to analyse elections, including survey data collection, regression analysis, and experimental methods. POLI31042 will develop students' critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of analysis techniques, and build their confidence in analysing and writing about data.



The basic remit of the course is to provide an in depth analysis of the choices British voters make (including the choice whether or not to vote at all) with a focus on the evidence provided by the British election study. Students will achieve an advanced understanding of modern electoral research, including the data and methods researchers use to analyse political choice. Students will also develop applied understanding of these methods through hands on classes in which they will use British Election Study data to develop their own tables and graphs addressing important aspects of voting choice.  


The course will address all of the main aspects of the political decision in Britain. The social divisions of class, ethnicity, gender and geography will be examined. The impact of changing issue agendas, voters' assessments of party performance, the economy and political leadership will also be examined in depth. Finally, the factors influencing the decision to vote at all will be considered, and competing explanations for the decline in turnout since 1997 examined in depth.



Knowledge and understanding

  • Substantive knowledge of the main factors influencing vote choice in Britain, how these have changed over time, and the methods used to establish their relative influence.
  • Methodological knowledge of the main principles of survey data collection and analysis, and the strengths and weaknesses of this approach

Intellectual skills

  • Critical understanding of how to gather and analyse evidence for and against different hypotheses about voting behaviour
  • Critical understanding of the main explanations of voting behaviour in Britain

Practical skills

  • Familiarity with survey data and the methods used to analyse it
  • Ability to analyse and present data, through tables and charts, in order to evaluate hypotheses

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Familiarity with survey data and methods, widely used in a variety of different professions
  • Introduction to the specialist statistical software used to analyse survey data
  • Development of data presentation skills, including construction of effective tables and graphs.

Assessment methods

3,500 words Essay worth 67%

Learning Logs worth 33%

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission.

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Tutorials 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Marta Cantijoch Cunill Unit coordinator

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