Political Psychology

Subject POLS30034 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

January, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 19-Jan-2015 to 23-Jan-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Feb-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 20-Jan-2015
Census Date 30-Jan-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-Feb-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 contact hours. This subject will be scheduled as a January-intensive from 19 – 23 January 2015.
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at Levels 1 & 2

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Aaron Martin


Dr Aaron Martin


Subject Overview:

Why do people vote the way they do? How do elites make decisions when faced with foreign policy crises? Is emotion a positive or negative force in politics? What factors lead to political participation? Why did just about everyone fail to predict the global financial crisis? Political psychology helps answer questions such as these. In exploring such questions this subject will explore the personalities, thought processes, emotions, motivations and political behaviour of citizens and elites. We will trace the early roots of political psychology such as psychobiography. We will also explore the real world applications of political psychology such as how the Obama election campaign mobilised voters using the findings from political psychology, as well as how the Behavioural Insights Team influenced policy-making in Britain.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • understand broad findings from psychology (and other related disciplines) and be able to apply them to political science questions;
  • understand different approaches to political psychology and the associated research methods;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the causal antecedents of cognition and political behaviour;
  • be able to synthesise and articulate arguments in different settings, including in class;
  • understand the role political psychology can play in policy development and regulation.


A reflective essay of 1000 words (25%) due at the end of January, in-class practical exercises totalling 1000 words (25%) due during the intensive teaching period, and a policy brief or research essay of 2000 words (50%) due in March.

Hurdle Requirement: As this is an Intensively-taught subject, lecture and tutorial attendance is compulsory on all 5 teaching days. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Readings will be provided online through the subject's LMS site prior to the commencement of the intensive teaching period.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Political Science Major
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies

Download PDF version.