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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3172 Parliaments and the Public

20 creditsClass Size: 17

Module manager: Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module

This module is approved as a skills discovery module

Module summary

The module Parliaments and The Public explores a key theme of modern politics: political disengagement. It does this by investigating key concepts and case studies that help us understand the relationship between citizens and one of our central political institutions, parliament. Rather than focusing on just the UK, it adopts a comparative approach introducing students to different models of relationship between parliament and public in Europe. The module has been designed around student-centred learning methods to ensure full student engagement. Teaching methods include a wide range of techniques - such as e-learning, interactivity in lectures, presentations, group work and role play - ensuring students develop a wide range of key transferable skills and truly engage with the module's contents. The assessment has been designed to ensure progression between assignments and to enable students to achieve their full potential, with many excelling. There is no requirement of prior familiarisation with the concepts or the case studies addressed in this module.


This module aims to critically reflect on the relationship between parliaments and public in a contemporary context. It combines case studies - European Union, France, Germany, Scotland and the UK - with a focus on key concepts and factors that help us understand and explain the relationship between parliaments and public.
The module aims throughout to be comparative in nature. We include three national parliaments, one supra-national and one sub-national. This enables endless comparative assessments to be made, namely across levels of governance and between countries. This combination of case studies also enables the comparison of systems with different electoral systems, with respective consequences on the relationship between parliament and citizens. The inclusion of the French and German case studies also gives students the opportunity to learn more about two key players in Europe.
The module starts with a review of how systemic factors such as political, electoral and party systems shape the type of relationship established between parliament and citizens in each system. It then focuses on the concepts of political support and trust. This is then followed by a critical evaluation of the concept of representation. These three initial lectures provide the foundation to then analyse how parliaments have developed public engagement strategies, with particular consideration of the role played by new media, petitions, outreach and education. This is then followed by our five case studies.
The teaching programme is therefore divided in two parts: the first five lectures and seminars focus in the key concepts and tools to study the relationship between parliament and public; and the subsequent five lectures and seminars focus on each of our five main case studies. Although the module includes a focus on specific case studies, it is tailored to encourage students to apply the concepts learned to other parliaments.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students should be able to:
- Identify and critically evaluate different concepts and factors that shape the relationship between parliaments and public;
- Demonstrate breadth of knowledge of the relationship between parliaments and public of at least two of the module's case studies;
- Use primary data to support a critical evaluation of the relationship between parliaments and public;
- Compare and contrast evidence to support a critical discussion of concepts.


The module's learning and teaching methods include weekly lectures and seminars, complemented by online resources and communication facilitated through the University's VLE. This combination of methods enables to present complex and extensive content, whilst giving students the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of the content covered, as well as applying concepts to specific realities and develop transferable skills.
Below we list an indication of the module's contents:

1. The Relationship between Parliament and the Public
2. Political Support and Trust
3. Types of Representation
4. Public Engagement: from information provision to participation
5. Public Engagement: the role played by new media
6. Case study 1 - France
7. Case study 2 - Germany
8. Case study 3 - UK
9. Case study 4 - Scotland
10. Case study 5 - European Union

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Preparation Class11.001.00
Independent online learning hours10.00
Private study hours169.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be expected to prepare for each weekly seminar, by reading 2/3 key texts and undertaking associated simple tasks. This preparation enables seminars to be far more effective and explore issues in depth. Besides this, as all of the module's topics are interconnected, this weekly preparation also helps students to perform particularly well in their assessment. Students will also be asked to keep up to date with weekly announcements summarising points addressed in classes.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

'tudents’ progress will be monitored through the usual attendance monitoring processes, as well as engagement with the seminars' discussions and activities. Feedback on the mid-term essay will also support monitoring of student progress. One to one discussions about research questions for the final assignment will also enable monitoring of student progress.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment4000 word Application Paper (End of term)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

2,000 word mid semester essay (Non Assessed)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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