Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Decisions Are Made By Those Who Show Up: America at the Ballot Box, 1896-2008 HIST5149

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

Since the country's founding, Americans have zealously celebrated their 'democratic experiment' to the extent that US elections often become battles not just for mere power, but over the meaning 'America' itself. This course, in analysing the most significant US elections and referenda, will trace the development of the American politics, society, and culture from 1896 to the present.Through examination of historiography and a broad and wide-ranging base of primary sources, from campaign literature to music, video to art, America at the Ballot Box will offer a comprehensive understanding of American elections and why they matter.


2 hour seminars per week x 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





Essay (3,500 words) - 70%

Presentation (15 minutes) - 15% Oral presentation; 15% written paper

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Evaluate the nature and evolution of modern American election campaigns since 1896.

■ Critically evaluate how historians and political scientists have used elections and referenda to explore the American politics, society and culture.

■ Offer practice in using a wide-range of primary sources, including campaign literature, music, polling data, television advertisements, and news coverage.

■ Examine the intersection between election results and public policy in the United States.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Appraise the evolution of American elections since 1896 to the present day, and thus gain a greater understanding of American politics, society, and culture in this time frame

■ Analyse an understanding of why different politicians and ideas have been more successful in winning support in the United States

■ Evaluate a variety of source materials (primary and secondary) on this subject in essays, presentation, and seminar discussion.

■ Conduct a broad range of communication skills, including debating, roleplay, presentation, and general class participation.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.