Parties and Elections

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
07 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides an introduction to electoral and party politics in advanced liberal democracies. It examines party systems, party competition, electoral behaviour and party organisation.

Module aims

To provide students with an introduction to electoral and party politics in the UK and Western Europe

Module learning outcomes

The democratic function of political parties
The ways in which parties campaign for votes
The effects of electoral systems
The major explanations for voting behaviour

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be taught as a weekly one-hour lecture and one-hour class for ten weeks in the Spring Term. Attendance is compulsory. Students are expected to read for all classes.


  • Bardi, L.; Mair, P. (2008) 'The Parameters of Party Systems', in Party Politics. vol. 14 (2) , pp.147-166
  • David M. Farrell. (2011) Electoral systems: a comparative introduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Susan E. Scarrow. (2015) Beyond party members: changing approaches to partisan mobilization, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Johns, Robert. (2012) 'Campaigning and the Mass Media', in Elections and voters in Britain, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. vol. Contemporary political studies series, pp.151-186
  • van Biezen, Ingrid; Mair, Peter; Poguntke, Thomas. (2012) 'Going, Going.. Gone? The Decline of Party Membership in Contemporary Europe', in European Journal of Political Research. vol. 51 (1) , pp.24-56
  • Steven B. Wolinetz. (2002) 'Beyond the Catch-All Party: Approaches to the Study of Parties and Party Organization in Contemporary Democracies', in Political parties: old concepts and new challenges, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Comparative politics, pp.135-165
  • Qvortrup, Matt. (2012) 'Voting on Electoral Reform: A Comparative Perspective on the Alternative Vote Referendum in the United Kingdom', in The Political Quarterly. vol. 83 (1) , pp.108-116
  • Peter Mair. (2009) 'The Party System', in The Oxford handbook of British politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Oxford handbooks, pp.283-301
  • Alan Ware. (1996) Political parties and party systems, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • European Consortium for Political Research. (1999) 'Party Cohesion, Party Discipline, and Parliaments', in Party discipline and parliamentary government, Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. vol. Parliaments and legislatures series, pp.3-22
  • David Farrell; Paul Webb. (2000) 'Political Parties as Campaign Organizations', in Parties without partisans: political change in advanced industrial democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Comparative politics, pp.102-128
  • John D. May. (1973) 'Opinion Structure of Political Parties: The Special Law of Curvilinear Disparity', in Political Studies. vol. 21 (2) , pp.135-151
  • Webb, Paul. (2000) The modern British party system, London: SAGE.
  • Justin Fisher; David Denver. (2008) 'From foot-slogging to call centres and direct mail: A framework for analysing the development of district-level campaigning', in European Journal of Political Research. vol. 47 (6) , pp.794-826
  • Kelly, Richard. (2010) 'The Worst of All Worlds? Electoral Reform and Britain's 2009 European Elections', in Political Quarterly. vol. 81 (1) , pp.99-106
  • Susan E. Scarrow; Paul Webb; David M. Farrell. (2000) 'From Social Integration to Electoral Contestation: The Changing Distribution of Power within Political Parties', in Parties without partisans: political change in advanced industrial democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Comparative politics, pp.129-153
  • Russell J. Dalton; David M. Farrell; Ian McAllister. (2011) Political parties and democratic linkage: how parties organize democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Scarrow, Susan E. (1996) Parties and their members: organizing for victory in Britain and Germany, New York: Oxford University Press. vol. Comparative European politics
  • Richard S. Katz; Peter Mair. (1995) 'Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party', in Party Politics. vol. 1 (1) , pp.5-28

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 Essay 18/03/2020 100%
Exam 90 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Thomas Winzen
Lecturer and Module Supervisor: Dr Thomas Winzen (thomas.winzen@essex.ac.uk) / Module Administrator: Lewis Olley (govquery@essex.ac.uk)



External examiner

Dr Arzu Kibris
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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