Department of Political Science


Voters, Public Opinion Participation

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Tom O'Grady (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value


About this course

This course is designed to introduce students to some of the main debates on the role of citizens and political institutions in democratic systems. 

It aims to provide students with sufficient knowledge and analytical tools for them to analyse the effectiveness and vitality of representative democracy in developed and developing countries. 

The course will enable students to bring theory and evidence to bear in answering the following key issues:

  • What is partisan identification and how does it influence opinion and vote choice? Are parties in decline?
  • What is public opinion and where do individual opinions come from?
  • Are opinions stable? Or do individual opinions vary greatly from one time to another?
  • What are the effects of public opinion? Do outcomes differ if individuals are better informed?
  • How does opinion affect policy? How does it affect vote choice?
  • Who participates in politics and other forms of social and political interaction? Does democracy require broad-based participation?
  • How might participation be increased?
  • Is it rational to vote?
  • Is voter-turnout declining, or not? What affects the decision to vote, and what affects vote choice?
  • Is the media responsible for the potential decline in voter turnout? Or, does the media increase turnout? How might media affect vote choice?