Module code: POL2046

Module Overview

This module builds on students’ existing knowledge of electoral systems and voting behaviour. It will give students an understanding of the implications of the use of particular electoral systems in different contexts and how people vote. Through the examination of existing theories and analytical frameworks, students will develop their ability to analyse the results of contemporary elections.

Students will develop their ability to analyse the results of contemporary elections, the emergence on new political parties, and the contemporary developments in party systems.

The module enables students to critically apply key voter’s behaviour theories to contemporary elections and understand strategies through which participation in voting can be encouraged. Together we will examine both parties and voters, and through the analysis of case studies we will examine contemporary debates on voting behavior.

The module complements and expands elements of UK politics electoral systems featured in POL1017 (Debates in British Politics) and on theories of voting behaviour such as rational choice which have been discussed in POL1012 (Introduction to Politics).

There are no pre-requisites for this module.


Students have the opportunity and are asked to carry out independent research.

Module provider


Module Leader

GUERRA Simona (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

The content for this module may include:

  • Why elections - and the study of electoral politics?

  • Electoral institutions

  • Voters and parties

  • The role of public opinion

  • First and second order elections

  • Referendums - the salience of domestic politics

  • Globalisation: the case of new cleavages

  • Uncivil agreement - how politics becomes our identity

  • The functions of political parties - the role of political agency and the impact of it on electoral behaviour

  • Assessing electoral democracy

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework BLOG POST (1500 WORDS) 40
Coursework RESEARCH PAPER (2500 WORDS) 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • The ability to apply theoretical concepts to contemporary elections.

  • The capacity to critically engage with an electoral system, its effects and the different case studies

  • Strong use of primary research skills.

  • The ability to integrate original research with existing literature/knowledge, by using different writing styles.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Blog post, 1500 words (40%)

  • Research Paper, 2500 words (60%)

For the blog post:

You are a country expert and you have been asked to write a post-election report for the government, political party, magazine, or a Non-Governmental Organization. You should choose a specific outlet, and a specific and recent election in a country, explain the electoral system, and describe the parties or if applicable the candidates that contest the election. Most important of all you will discuss the outcome, focusing on how the electoral system shaped the results by applying the key measures of analysis (for example, fragmentation and disproportionality, district magnitude). You may find examples of electoral blog posts at the: The Monkey Cage Election Reports or EUROPP LSE blog.

For the research paper:

The research papers should focus on a specific topic. Unlike the essays, research papers are more grounded on the literature and research findings. A research paper requires you to research and gain expert knowledge on that topic, and then back up your arguments and assertions with facts found through your thorough research. There will be examples and past reports on SurreyLearn.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students receive regular feedback on their work during the seminars. They further receive feedback on their first assessment before submitting the case study. Time is set aside in seminars to discuss aspects of the assessment. Where students are asked to complete small tasks in advance of - or during - classes, verbal feedback will be given to the group as a whole.

Module aims

  • Build on students' existing knowledge of electoral systems and voting behaviour
  • Give students an understanding of the implications of the use of particular electoral systems in different contexts.
  • Develop students' ability to analyse contemporary elections and electoral outcomes through existing theories and analytical frameworks.
  • Enable students to critically apply key voter behaviour theories to contemporary elections
  • Understand traditional and current theories of voting behavior, their shortcomings, and the current debates across the fields of research on public opinion and voting behaviour

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Develop advanced knowledge and understanding of the different electoral and voting systems KC
002 Enhance their understanding of contemporary theories of voting behaviour KC
003 Understand the main arguments for and against different types of electoral system and be able to defend or critique them in a sophisticated fashion KC
004 Independently research a country, election and electoral system of their choice and apply relevant theories and debates to this case study. CPT
005 Understand the implications of electoral systems and voting behaviour on democracy.( KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Immerse students in the mechanics of electoral systems and their consequences

  • Facilitate the discussion and analysis of contemporary election results.

  • Encourage independent research between classes

The learning and teaching methods include:

This module is taught in two-hour sessions which will include a discussion on the readings – a presentation on the main theories and application, and the students’ seminar discussion. Students should prepare questions and cases around the main topic or questions we will share week by week in our lectures, prescribed reading, group discussions, election simulations, independent study, research and analysis of primary material. It may include the preparation of short tasks prior to the weekly seminars (information to be given to students in the preceding seminar and on SurreyLearn).

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL2046

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.