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Unit information: Public Opinion and Democracy in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Public Opinion and Democracy
Unit code SOCI30072
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Phil Sayer
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to: Encourage students to think critically about the relationship between public opinion and democracy Offer an overview of the mechanisms by which public opinion is linked to representation Develop an understanding of how public opinion is formed Consider the impact of social and political change on public opinion Understand tools used for the measurement and analysis of public opinion

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to

  1. Critically appraise measures of public opinion
  2. Critically discuss the relationship between public opinion and democracy
  3. Be able to discuss how public opinion is formed and the role of key agents in this process
  4. Understand the impact of social and political change on public opinion

Teaching Information

1 hour lecture and 2 hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

Critical evaluation of public opinion poll data

  • Summative: Research Note 1,000 words 25%
  • Summative: Essay 2,500 words 75%

Assessment 1 tests learning outcomes 1 and 4, Assessment 2 tests learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Reading and References

Dalton, RJ (2008) Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Parties Washington DC: CQ Press Denver, D et al (2012) Elections and Voters in Britain London: Palgrave MacMillan Inglehart, R (1990) Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society Cambridge: CUP Pattie, C et al (2004) Citizenship in Britain Cambridge: CUP Zaller, J (1992) The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion Cambridge: CUP