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PO4670 Political Parties

Online noticeboard Term 1 2017–18


Meetings in term 1 took place on Mondays, 12 noon, College Green 2. Meetings were scheduled to run for 1–2 hours; on average they usually lasted around 90 minutes. Note that the schedule for term 2 is different. In term 2 this module is taught by Dr Emanuel Coman.

The first meeting was introductory, giving an overview of the first term of the module. The remainder of the module for the first term proceeds via weekly seminars (ie not lectures). Please try to refrain from reading / sending texts during classes!

This page was updated weekly during teaching term 1, usually on Monday afternoons. All the downloadable readings are ALSO on the module's Blackboard page.



Meeting Topic number Subject of discussion
Monday 25 September 2017 (2041B, Arts building) 1 Introduction to the module
Monday 2 October 2 Ostrogorski: why parties?
Monday 9 October 3 Michels: iron law of oligarchy
Monday 16 October (Class postponed due to hurricane)
Monday 23 October 4 Congruence of intra-party attitudes
Thursday 26 October (10–12, Regent House) 5 Candidate selection
Thursday 2 November (10–12, Regent House) 6 Party identification
Monday 6 November Reading week
Monday 13 November 7 Downsian model of party competition
Monday 20 November 8 Factions
Monday 27 November 9 Rationality of election campaigning
Monday 4 December 10 Parties and members
Monday 11 December 11 Future of political parties
April / May 2018   Module exam



All should be in the library. Books expected to be in high demand are on reserve, others are on the shelves. Articles are available either on-line through the library website, or (in very rare cases) on photocopy reserve.

Some readings are available on the module Blackboard page.



The handout for Term 1 Political Parties is downloadable here.




On the exam paper there will be two sections, corresponding to the material covered in the two terms, with four questions in each section. Students will be asked to answer 3 of those questions, at least one question from each section, in the allotted 3 hours. The style of question in section A will be the same as that of questions on the exam paper for Section A of the PO4740 paper for each of the last three years and PO4670 Political Parties before that. The three Term 1 essay topics (Michels, Downs, factions) will not appear as exam questions. As in previous years, each question will be easily relateable to a topic (eg a 'factions question', etc) – but ideally you will not think of the 10 topics as distinct silos and will, when answering a question on one topic, be able to bring in where relevant points encountered from another part of the module.

The exam timetable is set by the Examinations Office and details can be expected to emerge in late March or early April 2018, when it will be posted as part of the SS exam timetable on Exams Office site.

The department's undergraduate handbook has useful advice about how to tackle exam questions. Bear in mind that since PO4670 is a final-year course, you are expected to show knowledge and evidence of critical engagement with, rather than mere passive absorption of, the academic literature.




First essay was due 12 noon on Wednesday 6 December 2017 (ie week 11 of term). Essays were returned at the class on Monday 11 December. Essay titles are on p. 16 of the handout.

All three question titles for the essay have appeared in previous years as exam questions, so they should not require any particular 'clarification'. For obvious reasons (chiefly, that I will be marking the final essay and hence should not be making a direct input into it) I can't give detailed advice on exactly how you should answer the question you have chosen to tackle. As the handout says (p. 15), assignments should be about 2,000 words in length – the word count includes any footnotes the essay may have, but is exclusive of the list of references at the end of your essay, ie there is no 'cost' to reading and citing many items, but don't award yourself a 'margin of error' above 2,000 on the basis that some other module allows such leeway.

The first page of your essay needs to be the School assignment submission form, signed by you. Plagiarism regulations are here and the Department's undergraduate handbook here. Please do NOT put your name anywhere on the essay except on this form.

Please submit via; class ID number is 16331949, class name is PO4670PolP, class enrolment password / key is Parties1718 (all of these are case-sensitive). All these details will be different when it comes to the second half of the module. If (somehow) you haven't used the site before, you will first need to register, which you do via the 'New Users' button at the top right-hand corner of the turnitin page. The site will check your essay against all articles, books, and previous essays already in its databank, so be sure that what you write is all your own work!

In addition to the submission via turnitin, please submit a hard copy (which must of course be identical to the version submitted via turnitin). This should be handed in to Room 5.06, 1 Foster Place, preferably between 10.30 am and 12 noon on deadline day, again with the School assignment submission form as the front page and with no mention of your name except on that sheet. If you prefer, you can give it to me at the meeting on 4 December, or bring it to my office at any other time in advance of the deadline; if I'm not there then slip it under the door, please don't try to hand it in to the departmental office.

There is more information about how to write essays - what to do and what not to do - and how to avoid inadvertently plagiarising, in the Department's downloadable undergraduate handbook.





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Last updated 6 March, 2018 2:51 PM