Comparative Public Opinion: Concepts and Applications POLITIC5073

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will examine and analyse public opinion in a comparative context, with particular focus on political attitudes and beliefs in the United States and Europe, but will also explore public opinion in other contexts where possible. Topics will include the conceptualisation and measurement of public opinion, mass-level political and social intolerance, civic culture and social capital, and political trust


Timetable is unknown. The course will be taught in ten two-hour seminars

Requirements of Entry

Students must be accepted ad registered on a PGT programme in the College if Social Sciences.

Excluded Courses





Two Essays of between 2,500-3000 words, 50% of final grade each

Course Aims

The aim of the course is to:


■ To explain the process of public opinion formation

■ To describe and evaluate how public opinion survey research is conducted, including sampling techniques and survey questionnaire construction

■ To evaluate the expression of public opinion through civil and political culture

■ To explain particular phenomena like intolerance and distrust among the mass public

■ To analyse public opinion data

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ To recognize the ways in which individuals' political attitudes and beliefs are formed across political contexts

■ To explain how individual level opinions are aggregated to form public opinion

■ To recognize the utility of survey research, including explanations of sampling and measurement

■ To assimilate and summarize public opinion data, including contrasting public preferences within and across varying political cultures

■ To break down the various forces shaping and influencing public opinion such as agents of socialization, social capital, peers, the mass media, and elites

■ To judge the levels of tolerance, civility, trust, and political sophistication in a given society

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.