Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search



You are here Undergraduate > Module Outlines

Module Code: POU33111

Module Name: Public Opinion 2020-21

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 1
  • Contact Hours: 2 one-hour lectures per week; 1 tutorial per fortnight
  • Module Personnel: Dr Noah Buckley

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Explain how polling works, how to interpret public opinion polls, and how public opinion is measured more generally
  • Explain and discuss major issues in public opinion research
  • Describe the contextual factors shaping citizen attitudes
  • Evaluate the role of media and elites in opinion change
  • Discuss the consequences of citizen competence for democratic politics

Module Learning Aims

The module examines public opinion and political behaviour from a comparative perspective. Students will learn about the key issues in defining and measuring public opinion, understand the foundations of public opinion and political participation, become familiar with the contemporary debates in public opinion and political behaviour research, and be able to discuss current issues concerning mass attitudes and behaviour with reference to the major theoretical approaches in the field.


Module Content

This module examines public opinion and political behavior from a comparative perspective. Students will learn about the key issues in defining and measuring public opinion, understand the foundations of public opinion and political participation, become familiar with the contemporary debates in public opinion and political behavior research, and be able to discuss current issues concerning mass attitudes and behavior with reference to the major theoretical approaches in the field.

Topics and themes to be covered include: measuring and analyzing public opinion (sampling, questionnaire design, bias); citizen competence, information, sophistication; and explaining public opinion (political culture and values, the roles of elites, ideology, the media). We will also consider the role that public opinion plays in representative democracies, the extent to which elected representatives should be responsive to public opinion, and the role of public opinion in non-democratic regimes.

Back to top


Recommended Reading List

  • Clawson, Rosalee A., and Zoe M. Oxley (2012) Public Opinion: Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press, 2nd edition
  • Dalton, R. J. (2013) Citizen politics: Public opinion and political parties in advanced industrial democracies. Cq Press. [6th edition]
  • Erikson, Robert S. and Kent L. Tedin (2015) American public opinion: Its origins,content and impact. Routledge

Assessment Details

Tutorial attendance - weighted 5%

Questionnaire - weighted 35%

Essay - weighted 60%

Back to top