Electoral Behaviour

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 17 January 2022
Friday 25 March 2022
20 September 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides a range of theoretical angles and empirical evidence to understand electoral behaviour. The module focuses on individual motivations as well as political and economic influences on electoral participation and vote choice across countries, including the UK.

Module aims

The module aims to examine three broad issues:

Why do people vote?
Why do they support one party or candidate rather than another?
How do people reason about voting and politics more generally?

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should have a good working knowledge of:

1. different theoretical approaches to explain why people vote (and do not vote) and why they support one party or candidate over another

2. how political and economic contexts influence electoral participation and vote choice

3. the psychology of participation, the nature of public reasoning about political issues and interpersonal influences on public opinion

4. methodological approaches to modelling voting behaviour and the techniques used to measure and study public opinion, electoral participation, and vote choice

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x two hour seminar each week


  • Richard R. Lau; David P. Redlawsk. (2006) How voters decide: information processing during election campaigns, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Downs, Anthony. (c1957) An economic theory of democracy, New York: Harper.
  • Mark N. Franklin. (2004) Voter turnout and the dynamics of electoral competition in established democracies since 1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Brader, Ted; Wayne, Carly. (2016) 'The Emotional Foundations of Democratic Citizenship', in New directions in public opinion, New York: Routledge.
  • (1997) 'Unequal Participation: Democracy's Unresolved Dilemma Presidential Address, American Political Science Association, 1996', in American Political Science Review. vol. 91 (1) , pp.1-14
  • (2018) The Routledge handbook of elections, voting behavior and public opinion, London: Routledge.
  • Dalton, Russell J. (2019) Citizen Politics, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc.
  • Phelps, Edward. (2004-07) 'Young Citizens and Changing Electoral Turnout, 1964-2001', in The Political Quarterly. vol. 75 (3) , pp.238-248
  • D. T. Denver; Christopher J. Carman; Robert Johns. (2012) Elections and voters in Britain, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. vol. Contemporary political studies series
  • Klingemann, Hans-Dieter. (2007) 'Citizens and Political Behavior', in Oxford handbook of political behavior, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Dalton, Russell J. (© 2020) Citizen politics: public opinion and political parties in advanced industrial democracies, Los Angeles, California: SAGE, CQ Press.
  • Brockington, David. (2004-10) 'The Paradox of Proportional Representation: The Effect of Party Systems and Coalitions on Individuals' Electoral Participation', in Political Studies. vol. 52 (3) , pp.469-490
  • GRAY, MARK; CAUL, MIKI. (2000-11) 'Declining Voter Turnout in Advanced Industrial Democracies, 1950 to 1997', in Comparative Political Studies. vol. 33 (9) , pp.1091-1122
  • JACKMAN, ROBERT W.; MILLER, ROSS A. (1995-01) 'Voter Turnout in the Industrial Democracies during the 1980s', in Comparative Political Studies. vol. 27 (4) , pp.467-492

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1  22/02/2022  35% 
Coursework   Assignment 2  29/03/2022  65% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Module Administrator: Edmund Walker govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 664 hours, 20 (3%) hours available to students:
644 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.