Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: The Politics of Electoral Representation (PGSP11577)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryElections are key mechanisms in modern democracies. In this course, students will learn the theoretical and normative objectives of elections, according to both elected representatives and citizens. They will then learn different theories of voting behaviour, which they can apply to real-life elections. What factors explain why people vote or abstain? What best explains why voters support a particular party? These are concrete and important questions to answer. Finally, students will be exposed to the most recent development in the literature on elections and representation, especially regarding the personalisation of politics, the gender gap, and how citizens evaluate democratic regimes around the world and particularly in Europe.

Course description Academic description. Representation and elections are intimately related. In democratic regimes, elections are a key mechanism for citizens to elect their representatives. In this course, students will learn the theoretical and normative objectives of electoral democracies. Following an empirical approach, they will analyze citizens' view of representation including the perspective of the elites. For example, should representatives act according to their own conscience, follow the opinion of citizens or enact what they pledged to do? This will allow students to apply the theoretical logic of elections and representation to the real world and study its differences among elites and citizens.

We will then examine who participates in elections, and most importantly, analyze if (and how) this has an impact on citizens' representation. For those who decide to vote, a decision must also be made regarding the party (candidate) they want as their elected representative. We will study the many theories explaining vote choice by distinguishing long-term factors such as ideology from short-terms factors such as the economic conditions.

These set of considerations are, however, influenced by electoral campaigns and also the informational environment of a democracy, which we will examine. Finally, we will review the literature on the personalisation of politics and gender gaps and more precisely the variation of these factors over time and their potential consequences for representation. A study of citizens' evaluations of the democratic regime will conclude this course.

While there will be analysis of countries from every continent, most readings focus on democracies based in Western Europe (notably the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain) and North America (USA and Canada). The seminars will be based on both theoretical and empirical work.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
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 an advanced critical understanding of the principal theories of democracy and the role of elections.
  2. Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, and thinking
  3. Identify, conceptualise and define new and abstract problems and issues in the field of electoral representation.
  4. Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to issues in electoral representation
Reading List
[Selected chapters] van der Eijk, Cees and Mark N. Franklin, 2009. Elections and Voters. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

-[Selected chapters] Bittner, Amanda. Platform or Personality? The Role of Party Leaders in Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

-Blais, André. 2006. ¿What Affects Turnout?¿ Annual Review of Political Science 9: 111-125.
-Dassonneville, Ruth, and Ian McAllister. 2018. "Gender, Political Knowledge, and Descriptive Representation: The Impact of Long-Term Socialization." American Journal of Political Science 62(2): 249-265.
-Daoust, Jean-François, André Blais and Gabrielle Péloquin-Skulski. Forthcoming. What do voters do when they prefer a leader from another party? Party Politics.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills -Generic cognitive skills (e.g. evaluation, critical analysis);
-Communication, numeracy and IT skills; and
-Autonomy, accountability and working with others.

KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jean-Francois Daoust
Course secretaryMr John Riddell
Tel: (0131 6)50 9975
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information