Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3242: Political Representation UK-Style

This module descriptor refers to the 2022/3 academic year.

Module Aims

The module aims to examine trends in political representation in the UK at different levels of politics.  It combines a theoretical and conceptual understanding of representation with concrete applications in a UK context. It  draws on academic literature, policy initiatives and empirical data from Britain and comparable cases from around the globe, as well as the analysis of data from Hansard, devolved legislatures and local councils, the Representative Audit of Britain and the Audit of Political Engagement. Integration of comparative elements and engagement with recent experimental studies done in the UK and overseas enable students to explore practical ways of improving the quality of political representation and assess their strengths and challenges.

The module builds on the existing scholarship, including theoretical (e.g., Hannah Pitkin, Anne Phillips, Jane Mansbridge, Michael Saward) and empirical (Sarah Childs, Rosie Campbell, Christina Wolbrecht) research of the concept and practice of representation. Taking this research as a starting point, the module moves beyond the traditional focus of parliamentary representation and representation of traditionally under-represented, visible groups such as women and ethnic minorities and applies the concept of representation to ‘invisible’ groups such as the working class, disabled and LGBTQ+ people. This broadens the scope of the module and uses the representation lens to address wider issues of dissatisfaction with the quality of democracy at different institutional levels.

The module is taught through a combination of seminars and labs. Seminars introduce students to the topic of the week while relying on students’ familiarity with the assigned readings and their participation in simulation games and exercises. Labs enable students to address representation-related questions linked to the assignments by testing theoretical and empirical models on text and survey data.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of representation
2. Critically evaluate and empirically apply these approaches to study political representation in the UK
Discipline-Specific Skills3. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of concepts, approaches and methodologies in the area of political representation and their social and political implications and ability to contextualise them within the broader discipline of politics
4. Develop and present coherently and reflectively, orally and in writing, evidence-based arguments relevant to the module content
Personal and Key Skills5. Communicate effectively and accurately in the content of debates and in writing in different formats, i.e. posters, research notes and reports
6. Undertake tasks and complete research assignments with minimum guidance, while critically reflecting on the learning process and feedback
7. Select, synthesise and analyse information from a range of sources to develop coherent, evidence-based and logically sound arguments