• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Policy Studies, Political Communication, Political Sciences, Political Economy, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
This course examines the roles of political parties in democracies by reviewing the emergence, functions, activities, and the future of political parties. The focus of this course is on a comparative analysis of parties; however, on many occasions will draw on specific country experiences, including Australia, to illustrate particular topics. Additionally, the course will reflect on how and why political party experiences in post-industrial democracies may (or may not) be applied to newer democracies. 
Political parties are one of the major actors of democracies. They play an essential role in elections, representation and aggregation of citizen interests, recruitment of candidates for public offices, and governing of the state. Yet, their place in contemporary democracies is being more and more contested, especially by citizens. Political parties have experienced a decline in their membership and citizens are more likely to perceive them negatively. This course will help students understand the challenges faced by political parties as well as the solutions and reforms proposed to address the critics of parties. This overview of political parties and party systems is grounded in questions about democracy, its quality and its legitimacy. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Reflect on the importance of political parties for the democratic process.
  2. Explain the key concepts and themes in the study of political parties and party systems.
  3. Apply concepts and themes in the study of political parties and party systems to current cases and/or countries.
  4. Research and argue about a specific topic concerning political parties and party systems.
  5. Present research about parties and systems in a clear manner.

Indicative Assessment

Paper Proposal 15% (1000 words) (LO: 2, 3, 4)
Research Paper 35% ( 2500-3000 words) (LO: 2, 3, 4, 5)
Group Tutorial Presentation 10% (15 min) (LO: 1, 2, 3, 5)
Tutorial Participation 10% (LO: 1, 2, 3)
Final Exam  30% (2 hours, during the exam period) (LO: 1, 2, 3)

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, and 12 hours of tutorials; and, b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 or 2000 level Political Science (POLS) courses, or with permission of the convenor.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3216
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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