Not available in 2022/23
Inside the Mind of a Voter: Research in Electoral Psychology

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Bruter CBG 3.03


This course is available on the BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped) and priority will be given to students on the programmes named above. Students from other degrees are not normally accepted on the course except with the exceptional discretionary approval of the course teacher.

This course is capped at one group.

Course content

This final year undergraduate course has three important ambitions.

Substantively, it aims to introduce students to the study of electoral psychology and electoral ergonomics, which represent novel and dynamic approaches to the study citizens’ electoral behaviour and the way voters’ psychology interacts with the organisation of elections.

Methodologically, it introduces students to some of the key methods used in the field and enables them to practice fieldwork in one of them through an empirical group project. That project will change each year in terms of topic and method, and will be announced at the start of the academic year. It may include lab experiments, interviews, diaries, or any of the core methods used in the field.

Finally, it introduces students to the research process through the main assessment component, which is a supervised 7,000 word dissertation, and supports them through several research clinics whereby we discuss students’ dissertation issues and problems collectively throughout the year.


This course is taught using seminars only including 20 hours of seminars in the MT, 20 hours of seminars in the LT, and 4 hours of seminars in the ST. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of online or on campus seminars. This course includes reading weeks in Week 6 of both MT and LT.

The seminars are divided into:

- 7 x 2 hour SUBSTANTIVE SEMINARS on key issues in electoral psychology

-  7 x 2 hour FIELDWORK SEMINARS focused on preparation and fieldwork for the group project (note: some fieldwork seminars may be rescheduled or combined into longer sessions depending on fieldwork needs)

- 6 x 2 hour RESEARCH CLINICS on the preparation and discussion of analytical, methodological, and ethical issues faced by students with regards to their dissertation

- 1 x 4 hour CONFERENCE WORKSHOP where students will briefly present their findings to one another.

Formative coursework

Formative assessment includes:

- draft research synopsis and design (end of MT)

- draft research methodology (early in LT)

- unassessed critiques of further readings (throughout MT/LT)

Indicative reading

Bruter, M. and Harrison, S. Inside the Mind of a Voter

Lipset, S., Lazarsfeld, P, et al. The psychology of voting

Sniderman, P. Personality and democratic politics

Bruter, M., and Lodge, M. Political Science research methods in action

Baddeley, A. The psychology of memory

Cammaerts, al. Youth participation in democratic life

Harrison, S and Bruter, M. Mapping extreme right ideology


Dissertation (70%, 7000 words) in the ST.
Group project (15%) in the MT.
Critical evaluation (15%) in the MT and LT.

The critical evaluation involves critiques of further readings work as follows: to make the reading list more manageable for the 7 substantive seminars, all students will only be expected to familiarise themselves with the core readings, and will divide the further readings between themselves. Each student will be expected to be responsible for a total of 5-6 further readings throughout the year, each from different weeks.

Students responsible for a further reading will be asked to write a short (1-2 page) critique of it following a set format (1) what is the research question and why is it interesting, 2) what methods are the authors using, 3) what are the main findings, 4) what are the main shortcomings or what do you wish the authors had done differently) and post it on moodle by the Sunday before the seminar so that students can quickly browse the week’s ‘menu’ in advance. The students having each covered different further readings will bring them into the seminar discussion.

The critiques count for 15% of the final mark as follows: 5% for completing 5 quality critiques throughout the year, and 10% based on the average mark for what they choose as their two best critiques.

The group work mark (15%) is based on the satisfactory completion of the tasks assigned to small groups of students during the fieldwork (e.g. conducting interviews or experiments, etc depending on the topic of the year).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 14

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills