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Politics of Protest

Module titlePolitics of Protest
Module codePOC3072F
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor Clare Saunders (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will learn about theories of protest, survey design and implementation, and be given guidance on how to write up a quantitative research project. As part of the course, you will collect data from a large-scale street protest in London using the ‘caught in the act of protest’ survey strategy, devised by a renowned European team of scholars. (Note that the method requires a demonstration size of c.3,000 participants to work). You will analyse the data and produce a report on your findings. Thus, in addition to standard lectures and seminars, you will have the opportunity to participate in a field trip to a London-based protest and participate in workshops based in computer laboratories. You will be assessed on survey design, on a report that critically evaluates whether representativity and random sampling was achieved, and on a research report. Unlike many undergraduate modules on quantitative research methods, the module combines theory and practice, hopefully providing you with the skills and enthusiasm to make use of quantitative methods in your final year dissertations. The field trip provides a unique opportunity to witness an important political phenomenon first-hand.

You do not require prior knowledge skills or experience to take this module and it is suitable for specialist and non-specialist Politics students. This module is only available for Stage 3 students on Politics, FCH and Politics and History programmes.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module provides you with the opportunity to learn about and test theories of social and political protest using data that you collect yourselves. You will learn basic quantitative data analysis skills and how to test hypotheses derived from the social movements’ literature. Your employability, verbal and oral communication and general research skills will be strengthened.  

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate competence in survey design and implementation;
  • 2. use intermediate statistical techniques to analyse quantitative data using SPSS;
  • 3. test hypotheses derived from careful reading of social movement theories;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. demonstrate the ability to effectively use analytical skills in both written and oral work;
  • 5. appraise theories of social movements using quantitative evidence;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. design a survey in groups;
  • 7. present coherent arguments;
  • 8. demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in your written and oral work; and
  • 9. critically apply knowledge of the research process to test hypotheses.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


1. Measuring social movement dynamics

2. Old and new social movements compared

3. Structural and biographic availability

4. Emotions and motivations

5. Protest as anti-politics

6. Survey design

7. Entering and cleaning data in SPSS

8. Assumptions of parametric data

9. Measures of association

10. Basic regression

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 55 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 55 x 1 hour seminars
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 105 x 2 hour computer workshops
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 3Group survey design workshop
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 5 (plus travel time)Field trip for data collection
Guided Independent study43Private study: reading material set on reading list
Guided Independent study15Preparing review of method
Guided Independent study64Preparing research report


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion of research design with studentsInformal discussion with students on their project idea1Verbal
Workshop on survey designGroup discussion with students on ideas for survey design1,3Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Designing and creating a survey (marks will be allocated on the basis of proven individual contributions; i.e. each student will be responsible for a battery of survey questions)20No more than 12 x A5 pages1,3,6,9Written
Review of method201,000-words1,4,7,8Written
Seminar participation 10Contribution to the 10 2-hour seminars3, 7, 8Written
Individual research project503,000-words2,5,3,7,8,9Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Designing and creating a surveyDesigning and creating a short survey (2-pages of A4 per individual student)1,3,6,9August/September assessment period
Review of methodReview of method (1,000 words)1,4,7,8August/September assessment period
Individual research project Individual research project using secondary data (3,000 words)2,5,3,7,8,9August/September assessment period
Seminar participationOne-to-one viva with course convener3,7,8August/September assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Andy Field (2009) Discovering Statistics Using SPSS, Sage.

Pippa Norris (2002) Democratic Phoenix: Re-inventing Political Activism, Cambridge University Press.

David Snow and Sarah Soule (2010) A Primer on Social Movements, Norton Press.

Suzanne Staggenborg (2008) Social Movements, Oxford University Press.

Russell Dalton (2009) The Oxford Handbook of Political Behaviour, Oxford University Press.

Russell Dalton (2008) Citizen Politics, QC Press.

David Snow, Sarah Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi (eds) (2007) The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, Blackwell.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

 ELE –

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Protest politics, protest survey

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date