- Academic Registry
Programme & Unit Catalogues

PL50435: Comparative European politics

[Page last updated: 05 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: ES 67%, SM 33%
Assessment Detail:
  • Essay (ES 67%)
  • Seminar (SM 33%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
* This unit aims to provide a focussed discussion of political change in contemporary Europe, centred around two broad issues. Firstly, are we about to witness major changes in party systems, especially the decline of 'mainstream' parties and rise of new movements and/or apathy/political alienation?
* Secondly, do these and wider developments mean that far from witnessing the 'end of history' (Fukuyama, 1989/1992), we are witnessing the emergence of fundamental threats to liberal democratic system such as: the growth of 'populist' devices like the referendum; the mediatisation of politics and weakly implanted democracies in the communist successor states.

Learning Outcomes: At the end of this unit, students should be able to demonstrate: an appropriate level of both empirical and theoretical knowledge relating to these two broad themes; a similar knowledge of key concepts relating to these themes; a detailed knowledge of at least one topic within these themes and the ability to write and talk about it critically and clearly.

Skills: 1. Ability to use IT, including the Internet for learning and research. F
2. Ability to select, analyse and present numerical data. F
3. Ability to select and use appropriate ideas to produce a coherent response to a pre-set question. TFA
4. Ability to select, summarise and synthesise written information from multiple sources. TFA
5. Ability to develop rigorous arguments through precise use of concepts and models. TFA
6. Ability to work as a team. F
7. Ability to engage in effective oral academic communication. TF
8. Ability to work to specifications and meet deadlines. FA

Content: 1. Party System Change/Threats to Democracy
2. Mainstream Parties (1): Crisis or Revival on the Centre-Right in Europe?
3. Mainstream Parties (2) Socialist parties today ?
4. Corruption, Crime and political parties.
5. New Parties: Extreme Right and Populist Parties.
6. Charisma and the Mediatisation of Politics
7. The Rise of the Referendum and the Internet: New Direct Democracy or New Danger?

Programme availability:

PL50435 is a Designated Essential Unit on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • THPL-AFM22 : MA International Relations and European Politics
  • THPL-APM22 : MA International Relations and European Politics

PL50435 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.