BASS Social Anthropology and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Elections and Voters in Britain

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI30241
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes




The remit of the course is to consider the democratic process, and to address the central question of why electors behave the way they do, and the implications for political representation. The aim of the course is to provide students with an analysis of the changing nature of British voter behaviour from the 1960s to the present day. to help them understand national and comparative theories about voting behaviour. This involves the exploration of models of voting behaviour, and the analysis of the impact of contextual factors such as the existing democratic culture and election campaigning. Students will achieve an understanding of modern psephology. They will be able to analyse the impact of social cleavages - such as class, geography, ethnicity, gender and age - upon electoral behaviour. They will be able to assess the utility of social psychological and issue-based approaches to voting behaviour. They will be able to scrutinise the structural impact of the electoral environment, including the media, the established rules of the game, campaigning, polling and party organisations, and consider how all these factors shape our political landscape.

Learning outcomes

  • Successful students will have achieved a good understanding of modern psephology and be able to express themselves clearly in assignments and in seminar discussions. 
  • Students will develop the ability to recognise, analyse and assess explanations of voting behaviour and the electoral environment in Britain. 
  • Successful students will analyse and assess secondary data about the role of individuals and groups in the electoral process requiring organisational and communication skills. 
  • To enable the analysis of recurring themes of electoral politics, including questions of the demographic fundamentals, psychological affinity to political parties, issue voting, the influence of structural forces on voting behaviour, and the emergence of new agendas in the electoral process. 

Teaching and learning methods


Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
Explanation and communication of complex ideas and processes

Assessment methods

mid-term short essay 33% (1500 words)  

end of course long essay 67% (3000 words)  


Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

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. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

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. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

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

Recommended reading

David Denver and Robert Johns (2021) Elections and Voters in Britain (4th  edition) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 


Fieldhouse, Green, Evans, Mellon, Prosser and van der Eijk (2020) “Electoral Shocks: the Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World” (Oxford University Press)


Sobolewska and Ford (2021) "Brexitland", Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Ford, Bale, Jennings and Surridge (2021) "The British General Election of 2019", Basingstoke:Palgrave Macmillan

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ceri Fowler Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks


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