Module code: POL2046

Module provider


Module Leader

MIDDLETON AF Dr (Politics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code

Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 22

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework CASE STUDY (3000 WORDS) 70%

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

Electoral systems are the cornerstone of an effective democracy, facilitating the formation of governments and in turn enabling the public to hold governments to account. The module aims to deepen students’ knowledge of the electoral systems, voting behaviour and the consequences of these for different political systems. It introduces students to the mechanics of majoritarian, proportional and mixed electoral systems, the administration of these types of elections as well as their consequences for the allocation of preferences, representation and the wider political system. Students will have the opportunity to explore and debate different types of ballot papers, electoral formulas for seat allocation (e.g. d’hondt) and options for electoral reform in the UK and elsewhere.

Voting is the key way in which citizens can influence the direction of their nation; holding politicians and their parties to account. This module explores key explanations for why people choose to vote at all and also what factors are accounted for in their decision to vote for particular candidates. It goes beyond classical theories of voter behaviour such as class voting, partisanship and rationalism to consider their contemporary relevance and whether short-term issues are playing an increasingly important role. Students will explore the role of political leadership and issue voting, as well as ways in which participation can be encouraged.

This module discusses electoral systems and voting behaviour in the UK but also offers a broader, comparative perspective, covering a wide range of other countries.

The module complements and expands elements of UK electoral systems featured in POL 1017 (Debates in British Politics) and on theories of voting behaviour such as rational choice which have been discussed in POL 1012 (Introduction to Politics).  There are no pre-requisites for this module and students have the opportunity to carry out independent research on a recent election of their choice for the case study assessment.

Module aims

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

The content for this module may include:

The importance of electoral systems and voting behaviour
Encouraging voting (regulations and compulsory voting)
Electoral administration and integrity
Majoritarian electoral systems (FPTP, Two Ballot, Alternative Vote, Supplementary Vote)
Proportional systems (Party Lists)
Two vote/ Additional Member Systems
Electoral Reform
Class, religion and ethnicity: sociological voting models
Partisan identification and vote choice
Rationality, turnout and making your vote count
Issue-based and valence voting
Leadership and voting

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:

Workshop sessions (2 hours per week x 11 weeks) to include: lectures, prescribed reading, group discussions, election simulations, independent study, research and analysis of primary material. May include the preparation of short tasks prior to the weekly seminars (information to be given to students in the preceding seminar).

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 and its effects

Strong use of primary research skills.
The ability to integrate original research with existing literature/knowledge.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Written briefing on electoral system: 1000 words (30%)
Case Study : 3000 words (70%)


For the defence assessment students will be asked to write a defence of one electoral system (from a choice of 3). Please see the module handbook for further information. In the case study assessment students are able to select a country and election of their choice for analysis. This analysis will include an exploration of the salient features of the electoral system used, alongside consideration of its effects (this may be on institutions, representation, political parties, voter choice or democracy itself).  Assessments deadlines to be confirmed – students should refer to the Module Handbook prior to the start of semester.


Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive feedback on the first assessment before submitting the case study. Time will be 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.

Reading list

Reading list for ELECTORAL SYSTEMS AND VOTING BEHAVIOUR : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/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 2017/8 academic year.