Comparative Public Opinion POLITIC4146

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will examine public opinion in a comparative context, with particular focus on political attitudes and beliefs in the United States and Western Europe.


This course may not be running this year. For further information, please check the Politics Moodle page or contact the subject directly.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Entry to Honours Politics requires a grade point average of 12 (Grade C) over Politics 2A and Politics 2B as a first attempt.

Excluded Courses






One essay/research note of 2,000 words (40%);

One 90 minute examination in which students attempt to answer two questions out of six (50%)


Oral contribution (10%)

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No


Course Aims

This course explores the psychological bases of mass public opinion and political behaviour. The course will investigate mass-level political and social intolerance, xenophobia, civic culture, postmaterialism and value change, trust in government, Euroskepticism as well as the impact of the mass media on public opinion.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

i) Knowledge and Understanding

Students will gain

• Knowledge of the process of opinion formation

• Knowledge of the key current debates in the field of public opinion research

• Understanding of the approaches and theoretical perspectives that inform those debates.


ii) Intellectual Skills

Students will be able to:

• Display a systematic understanding and critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights in public opinion research, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the discipline.

• Display a level of conceptual understanding that enables them to: evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

• Reflect on their own learning and make use of constructive feedback.


iii) Professional/Practical Skills

Students will be able to:

• Write clearly and grammatically within the conventions of the politics discipline.

• Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgments in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

• Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level.

• Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills.


iv) Transferable & Key Skills

Students will be able to:

• Communicate effectively in writing.

• Communicate fluently in speech.

• Employ sound decision-making skills.

• Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management.

• Work with others to achieve common goals.

• Use information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information.

• Display the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

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.