Public Opinion and Political Behaviour: Methods and Practices

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
02 June 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA L20712 Public Opinion and Political Behaviour,
MA L207EB Public Opinion and Political Behaviour,
MA L207EK Public Opinion and Political Behaviour,
MSC L20712 Public Opinion and Political Behaviour,
MSC L207EB Public Opinion and Political Behaviour,
MSC L207EK Public Opinion and Political Behaviour

Module description

The module introduces students to the methodological debates and empirical analyses required to understand and undertake research in public opinion and political behaviour.

The course examines issues related to:

  • Polls and surveys: How do the public understand questions in surveys and how can we go about measuring this?

  • Sampling theory: How do we select representative samples? When is it okay not to use representative samples?

  • Measurement and scaling: How do we measure opinion and political behaviour? What type of measurement scales are available to help us do this?

  • How to design survey questionnaire and to plan survey fieldwork?

  • How to program and run online survey and survey experiments?

  • Description and visualization of public opinion data

  • How to test hypotheses?

Module aims

The aim of this module is :

  • to provide students with the background knowledge and practical skills needed to undertake surveys of public opinion. These include the practical sessions of designing and implementing online survey experiments, analysing public opinion data, and producing descriptive and analytic knowledge from survey data. These are required by anyone seeking employment in polling and market research industry or who wishes to conduct further research in the fields of political attitudes and behaviour.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should have:

  1. A sound understanding of the techniques used to measure opinion within a variety of settings

  2. A working knowledge of the statistical theory required to select representative samples of the population

  3. An understanding of the main descriptive and multivariate techniques used to analyse public opinion and political behaviour data

The intended learning outcomes and key skills are:

  1. Communications – writing clearly and working to a deadline

  2. Information Technology – online searching, word processing, statistical analysis

  3. Problem solving – analysing quantitative and qualitative evidence, summarising complex findings from surveys, and identifying trends in data

  4. Numeracy – Data analytic and statistical skills, interpreting bivariate and multivariate

Module information

The module will cover the following topics:

  • The psychology of survey

  • Sampling and measurements

  • Survey design and administration

  • Challenges and opportunities in political surveys in the digital age

  • Online survey administration on Qualtrics

  • Data collection and data management

  • Descriptive analysis and data visualization using Stata

  • Regression analysis

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

  • two-hour seminars (x 4 weeks)
  • lab sessions (x 6 weeks).

The seminars will engage students in up-to-date knowledge in implementing and analysing public opinion data and survey experiments.

The laboratory sessions will provide students with practical skills needed for running online survey experiments and analysing public opinion data. They will also provide knowledge of the statistical methods and software needed for the analysis of surveys of public opinion


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Test 1    30% 
Coursework   Test 2    70% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

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