GV454      Half Unit
Parties, Elections and Governments

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Torun Dewan CON6.07


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in EU Politics, MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


There are no formal prerequisites.

Course content

The course focuses on key topics in political science concerning voting and representation. Topics covered include:

• Party and Candidate Strategy

• The Role and Origins of Parties

• Government Formation and Termination

• Electoral Systems: Franchise, Ballot, and Allocation formulas

• Leadership

• Political Careers

• Government Accountability

Examples will be drawn from a wide range of democracies.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

In week 11 of LT students will sit a two hour mock exam

Formative coursework

All students are expected to submit one non-assessed essay.

Indicative reading

The course is focussed mainly on journal articles. However the following books are relevant to some of the topics covered

Gary Cox, Making Votes Count (1995); Gary Cox & Mathew McCubbins, Setting the Agenda (2005); George Tsebelis, Veto Players (2002); Kenneth Shepsle and Mark Boncheck, Analysing Politics (1997); Tim Besley, Principled Agents (2005); John Aldrich , Why Parties (1995) ; Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. Alastair Smith, Randolph Siverson and James Morrow, The Logic of Political Survival (2003); Giovanni Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering (1997); Michael Laver & Norman Schofield, MultiParty Government: The Politics of Coalition in Europe (1990).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 22.7
Merit 52.3
Pass 22.7
Fail 2.3

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2015/16: 10

Average class size 2015/16: 10

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication