Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2104: Party Politics and Democracy

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics.

The first half of the module will be chronological, and provide an insight into the progressive institutionalisation of political parties in Western Europe and the United States, from the mid-19th century to post-World War Two. The first sessions will focus on political parties in early modern thought, and consider the arguments that rose both against and in favour of political parties by political thinkers and actors in the 18th and early 19th century. The module will then examine topics such as the interaction between the birth of mass parties and the extension of the voting suffrage; the role of political parties in the development of political cleavages, and the totalitarian turn of partisanship in the inter-war period.

The second part of this module will be thematical, and investigate different aspects of the evolution of party politics since the end of the Second World War. It will interrogate the relevance of political parties for contemporary democracy and critically examine the proposition that they have become obsolete. Themes studied in this second part will include:

  • The gradual erosion of the mass party as an organizational form
  • The rise of populist parties in Europe
  • The role of transnational partisanship in the EU
  • The progressive polarization of American politics.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2211 x 2 hour per week seminars including small group work, presentations, and class discussion.
Guided Independent Study50Reading
Guided Independent Study30Preparation and completion of examination
Guided independent study13Presentation preparation
Guided Independent Study35Essay writing

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).