PB428      Half Unit
Political Psychology: Inequality and Prejudice

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Cathryn Nicholson


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students from all departments may attend subject to numbers, their own degree regulations and at the discretion of the teacher responsible

Course content

The course concerns the social psychological underpinnings of contemporary inequality and conflict between groups. It introduces students to political psychology through theories focused on individual attitudes, intergroup dynamics, and ideological discourse. It then applies these theories to the understanding of contemporary issues concerning intergroup inequality. We will explore the psychosocial processes underpinning racism and prejudice, asking why some conflicts are so intractable, and why some people turn to extremism and violence. We will consider political participation in its conventional and non-conventional forms, asking why people vote the way they do, and when they will turn to the streets to protest. We will also apply a political psychology lens to examine contemporary challenges such as migration, populism, and economic inequality. Students will be equipped with the conceptual tools to consider the psychological antecedents and consequences of inequality in its various forms: to understand why intergroup hierarchy is so persistent, and how it might change.

Lectures aim to achieve a balance between theoretical and applied issues, critically investigating the ways in which psychology can enhance our understanding of intergroup relations and inequality, and also contribute to broader social and political debates. Through integrating evolutionary, cognitive, social, ideological, and societal perspectives, we will be in a position to take stock of the field of political psychology and where it might go.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Two response papers (each 600 words), in which students provide their reflection on and critical reaction to material encountered in the course.

Indicative reading

Augoustinos, M. & Reynolds, K. (2001). Understanding Prejudice, Racism and Social Conflict. London: Sage.

Bar-Tal, D. (2011). Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: A Social Psychological Perspective. Hove: Psychology Press.

Billig, M. (1995). Banal Nationalism. London: Sage

Billig, M.  (1996). Arguing and thinking:  A rhetorical approach to social psychology (2nd ed.).  Cambridge:  CUP.

Dixon, J., Levine, M., Reicher, S., & Durrheim, K. (2012). Beyond prejudice: Are negative evaluations the problem and is getting us to like one another more the solution?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 35(6), 411-425.

Durrheim, K. & Dixon, J.A. (2005). Racial Encounter: The Social Psychology of Contact and Desegregation. London: Psychology Press.

Guinote, A. E., & Vescio, T. K. (2010). The social psychology of power. Guilford Press.

Hammack. P. (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Social Psychology and Social Justice. Oxford Library of Psychology.

Hogg, M. A., & Abrams, D. (Eds.). (2001). Intergroup relations: Essential readings. Psychology Press.

Howarth, C. & Andreouli, E. (2017) The Social Psychology of Everyday Politics. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

Huddy, L., Sears, D. O., & Levy, J. S. (Eds.). (2013). The Oxford handbook of political psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jost, J. & Sidanius, J. (2004). Political Psychology. Hove: Psychology Press.

Kinnvall, C. & Nesbitt-Larking, P. (2011). The Political Psychology of Globalization. Oxford: OUP.

Moghaddam, F. (2008). Multiculturalism and intergroup relations: psychological implications for democracy in global context. Washington DC: APA.

Nesbitt-Larking, P. & Kinnvall, K. (2014) Handbook of Global Political Psychology. New York. Palgrave.

Payne, K. (2017). The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die. Penguin.

Reicher, S. & Hopkins, N. (2001). Self and Nation. London: Sage.

Sen, R., Wagner, W. & Howarth, C. (2014). Secularism and religion in multi-faith societies. London: Springer.

Tileaga, C. (2013). Political Psychology: Critical perspectives. Cambridge University Press.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2018/19: 46

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

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