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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Political Parties in the 21st Century (PLIT10122)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course focuses the building blocks of modern politics: political parties and party systems. In this course, we examine the structures and functions of the modern party, strategies and campaigning, and new party system dynamics. This course takes a case-study approach, allowing students to apply theoretical understandings of party politics to real-world examples.
Course description What role do parties serve in twenty-first century democracies? Do we need parties for democracy to work? How do parties mobilise and campaign? How do parties ensure representation within their ranks or manage territorial divisions? The course will work to answer these questions through the comparison of key cases, guided by the interests and expertise of students as well as current events.

Political parties define how we see and understand politics. Schattschneider (1942) wrote that 'democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties'. Political parties are central actors, mediating voter¿s preferences and policy outcomes. At the same time, many parties in Western democracies have experienced partisan dealignment, declining membership, and increased competition from protest and populist parties. This course unpacks these issues, assessing what functions parties serve in political life, examining party campaigns and electoral strategies, and examining the ways in which parties adapt to accommodate new modes of political mobilization.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World (PLIT08012), but have taken a similar course, should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students enrolled in the class should have at least 20 credits in politics.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of party politics and party systems through oral contributions in class and through written work
  2. Apply knowledge of party politics and the comparative method and design a research project analyzing two or more parties
  3. Critically review the literature and primary source materials on the field in class and in written assignments
  4. Present their findings on their individual cases orally
  5. Work with others in a seminar setting to test understanding and hone their analysis
Reading List
Katz, R.S. and Crotty, W.J. eds., 2006. Handbook of party politics. Sage.
Mair, P., Müller, W.C. and Plasser, F. eds., 2004. Political parties and electoral change: party responses to electoral markets. Sage.
Meguid, B.M., 2008. Party competition between unequals: Strategies and electoral fortunes in Western Europe. Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills In-depth knowledge of political parties and political campaigning
Effective written and verbal communication
Effective research and analytical skills
Keywordsparty politics,politics,democracy
Course organiserMs Coree Brown Swan
Course secretaryMs April Workman
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197
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