Political Participation in My Community

Module titlePolitical Participation in My Community
Module codePOC1025
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Joanie Willett (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The study of politics is about learning academic theory, but also about conducting research in our communities in order to both put theory into practice.  This helps us to learn new things about the world around us, and make contributions to the body of existing knowledge.  In this module, you will take your seminar learning around political participation and research methods, and apply it to a research project in your community to consider how to improve participation in your area.  This might be about formal politics – such as in Parish/Town/Local Authority government and elections, or you might instead look at informal participation such as volunteering in community organisations designed to bring about positive change in the localities within which they operate.

This module is funded by the European Social Fund in order to widen participation in Higher Education.  To increase accessibility it is designed to be run outside of the University campus in a community setting.  You might be able to use the module credits towards the first year of a degree programme that you choose to take later, or you might feel that the learning that you gain from this class will complement the job role that you now hold, or will prepare you better to enter a job sector that you would like to move into.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), and aims to introduce suitably qualified students to degree level study, whilst also providing continuing professional development tools which will be useful in your workplace.  Over the process of the course you will learn academic knowledge around political and local participation, be introduced to debates about appropriate methods for undertaking research, and learn practical skills such as designing and conducting research; and writing your findings into an accessible report.  You will learn how to integrate academic theory with ‘real world’ practice, producing a piece of work that has the potential to be of real benefit to your community.  You will also be supported through learning how to critically evaluate interpretations of your data, using a range of theoretical frameworks.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of major debates around political participation;
  • 2. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods in written work;
  • 3. Conduct and evaluate primary research;
  • 4. Apply theories about politics and change to local issues in written work;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Use key concepts pertaining to political participation and research methods in written work;
  • 6. Engage in sympathetic interpretation of the data gathered in your written work;
  • 7. Demonstrate understanding of the implications of new evidence for a given political perspective in your oral and written work;
  • 8. Demonstrate that you understand different methods of research in the field and their implications for findings in your oral and written work;

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. Work independently over a project that you design;
  • 10. Demonstrate written analytical and organizational skills in the research proposal and final report;
  • 11. Design and conduct and report on your own research project
  • 12. Write assessments to a deadline.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover the following topics in chronological order:


Induction to University systems, and introduction to the course.

Qualitative research, theory and methods.

Quantitative research, theory and methods.

Alternative research methods – using performance and grounded theory.

Designing your research project.

Why participate? Citizenship and Liberal Democracy.

Formal political participation.  Research updates.

Informal political participation.  Research updates.

Community engagement. Research updates.

The personal is political? Alternative ways of being political.

Tying it all together: What do your projects tell us about local participation?

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 Activities27.5The module will be taught through 11 combined seminars/lectures of 2.5 hours.
Guided Independent Study22.5 hours Lecture preparation - Private study reading
Guided Independent Study40Primary fieldwork
Guided independent study20Researching and writing assignments
Placement40Research Project: Conducting primary research.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research proposal outline500 words2,4,7,8,9,10,11,12Verbal and written
Draft research report 20001-12

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
Research Proposal401500 word research proposal detailing what you will do in your research project, how, and why.2,4,7,8,9,10,11,12Written Feedback
Research Report602000 word research report.1-12Written Feedback


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research ProposalResearch Proposal2,4,7,8,9,10,11,12August/September assessment period
Research ReportResearch Report1-12August/September assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessment of the report will require the completion of a new report based on knowledge of the same topics. 


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Zukin, C. A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Orum, A.

Whitely, P. 2011. Political Participation in Britain: The Decline and Revival of Civic Culture. Palgrave Macmillian.

Parry, G. Political Participation and Democracy in Britain.

Lewis, J., Jorgensen, I., 2005.  Citizens or Consumers? What the Media Tells us about Political Participation. Open University Press.

Anderson, M. 2010. Community Identity and Political Behaviour. Palgrave Macmillian

Putnam, R. 2000 Bowling Alone; The Collapse and Revival of American Community (London: Simon Schuster Paper Backs, 2000)UWE Flick?

Charmaz, K.C. (2006) Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage Publications.

Flick, Uwe. 2004. “A Companion to Qualitative Research”, London: Sage Publications.

Halperin, S, Heath, O. 2016. Political Resaerch: Methods and Practical Skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Political Participation; Widening Participation; Community Research; Research Methods

Credit value15
Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date