PB428      Half Unit
Political Psychology: Inequality & Intergroup Relations

This information is for the 2021/22 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.

Course content

The course looks at how psychology shapes political thinking and behaviour, as to  how sociopolitical contexts shape psychology. It introduces students to political psychology through three lenses, focusing on individual interpretations of their social reality,  intergroup dynamics, and ideological discourses. It then applies these lenses to the understanding of contemporary issues concerning intergroup inequality. We shall  explore the psychosocial processes underpinning racism and prejudice, and will ask why some conflicts are so intractable that make group boundary crossing so challenging.  We will consider political participation in its conventional and non-conventional forms, asking why people vote the way they do, and when they might  turn to the streets to protest. We will also apply a political psychology lens to examine contemporary challenges of societal inequality such as cultural diversity, the power of the past on the present, intergroup conflict and populism.  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  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 be leading.


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

Formative coursework

One short response paper (500-1000 words), that can be developed into an essay plan or blog post.

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.

Barlow, F. K., & Sibley, C. G. (Eds.). (2018). The Cambridge Handbook of the Psychology of Prejudice: Concise Student Edition. Cambridge University Press.

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

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.

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.

Jetten, J., & Peters, K. (Eds.). (2019). The Social Psychology of Inequality. Springer International Publishing.

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.

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

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

Üskül, A. K., & Oishi, S. (Eds.). (2018). Socio-economic environment and human psychology: Social, ecological, and cultural perspectives. Oxford University Press.


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: 44

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information