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Political Parties

Module Code: PO4670 / PO4671 (not available 2016–17)

Module Name: Political Parties

  • ECTS weighting: 15 for PO4670, 10 for PO4671
  • Semester / terms taught: Not available in 2016–17. The first half of the 2016–17 module PO4740 Topics in Political Science is a one-term half-module based on PO4670.
  • Contact hours: One 2-hour seminar per week
  • Module personnel: Lecturer - Professor Michael Gallagher

This module has an on-line noticeboard (accessible from TCD computers only) containing information for current students about the course schedule, handouts, downloadable readings, deadlines etc. This module is not open to visiting students.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the role of political parties in contemporary political systems
  • Analyse the debates over where power lies within parties and the discussion as to whether this affects the way in which parties perform their functions re the wider society
  • Outline the origins of parties and the way this impinges on parties' subsequent behaviour
  • Discuss whether political parties are an essential feature of contemporary political systems
  • Discuss whether or not political parties require and benefit from members or whether the costs of members may exceed their benefits
  • Discuss whether parties have a future, and/or whether the parties of the future will be similar to the parties of today.


Module learning aims

The aim of the module is to ensure that students who complete it successfully will have a deeper understanding of the roles played by political parties within contemporary political systems and the debates around these roles, of the ways in which parties function, and of the challenges that parties face in the twenty-first century.

Module content

This module studies political parties, focusing primarily though not exclusively on parties as organisations. It looks at where parties come from, what they do, where they get their money, where power lies within them, what sort of people join them and why, and at arguments that parties are inevitably undemocratic organisations, finishing by considering the future prospects of political parties. It looks primarily at parties in first world liberal democracies, particularly western Europe, the USA, Japan, Israel, and Australia. It builds on political science courses taught in earlier years.

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Recommended reading list

Detailed readings will be given in the course handout. General overviews are:

Richard S Katz and William J Crotty (eds), Handbook of Party Politics (London: Sage, 2006)

Steven B Wolinetz (ed), Political Parties. Dartmouth: Ashgate, 1998.

Alan Ware, Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996

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Assessment details

PO4670: 2 essays, each counting 20%; 1 exam, counting 60%.

PO4671: 1 essay, counting 30%; 1 exam, counting 70%.

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Last updated 12 August 2016