Undergraduate Modules: POL3119 - Party Politics: Competition, Strategies & Campaigns

Module Code

POL 3119

Module Title

Party Politics: Competition, Strategies & Campaigns


Level 3


Semester 1


20 credits

Taught by:

Dr Nasos Roussias, Lecturer in Politics

Module Description:

This module provides an in-depth analysis of parties and party systems. It offers an exposition of issues related with parties, looking at their characteristics as well as their interactions. The module covers key aspects of party politics such as the origins of parties, different party types, party systems and their determinants, political competition, campaign strategies and effects, the emergence of new parties, coalition formation, clientelistic parties, as well as dominant and ethnic parties. Using examples from around the world, from established and developing democracies, as well as from authoritarian regimes, students should be able to form a well-rounded understanding of party politics, familiarizing themselves with different cases.

Module Aims:

This module aims to provide students with a clear understanding of key concepts and debates on party politics. Students will be encouraged to study parties from various countries in order to complement the theoretical understanding with a hands-on approach. By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of issues associated with parties and political competition.
  • Define and analyse concepts such as parties, party systems, coalition formation, political competition, etc.
  • Critically discuss the various approaches used in studying parties, their structure, behaviour and interactions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of paradigmatic cases around the world.

This module also equips students with a range of important transferrable skills, which are vital in terms of employability, including working independently and as part of a team; managing a varied workload; assimilating and synthesising multiple data sources; constructing coherent arguments; and preparing written reports and verbal presentations.

Module Schedule:

1 What is a Party?
2 Why Parties?
3 Party Types
4 Campaigns *US election special*
5 Party Competition
6 Social Structure & Party Systems
7 Electoral Institutions & Party Systems
8 Making and Breaking Governments
9 Programmatic Competition and Clientelism
10 Dominant, Ethnic & Post-Communist Parties
11 Formation of New Parties

Teaching Methods:

  • 11 * 2 hour seminars


  • Essay - 50% of mark
  • Essay - 50% of mark

Resources Available:

  • Individual feedback and guidance sessions with module tutors.
  • Detailed 20-30 page module handbook
  • Dedicated module intranet site.
  • Extensive library materials, including a wide variety of electronic and digitised resources.

Opportunities for Further Study:

There is also the opportunity to deepen your knowledge by undertaking a supervised research project module an agreed topic arising out of work done on POL 3119. Students meet with their tutor individually for tailored one-to-one supervision and tuition, which will enable them to undertake research and be assessed on the basis of a 7,000 word project.

To find out more about the research project modules on offer, click here

Indicative Reading:

Aldrich, J. (1995) Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Political Parties in America. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

Cox, G. (1997) Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World’s Electoral Systems. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Gunther, R., Montero, J.R. and Linz, J.J. (eds.) (2002) Political Parties: Old Concepts and New Challenges. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hinich, M. and Munger, M. (1997) Analytical Politics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Katz, R. and Crotty, W. (eds.) (2006) Handbook of Party Politics. London: Sage.

Lijphart, A. (1994) Electoral and Party Systems: A Study of Twenty-Seven Democracies, 1945-1990. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mair, P. (ed.) (1990) The West European Party System. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sartori, G. (1976) Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ware, A. (1996) Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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