Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC2041: The Political Psychology of Elites

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.

Module Aims

This module aims to equip students with the tools to describe and evaluate political psychological theories of decision-making at the elite level and thus with the skills to develop your own ideas about what drives elite attitudes and behaviours. The module focuses on elite decision-making, concentrating mostly on foreign policy and why otherwise intelligent and savvy individuals and groups often make very poor decisions. Students will learn about different theoretical perspectives and how to apply them to different historical examples in the study of elite decision-making. Students will have the opportunity to discuss and evaluate contending theoretical perspectives and in each case to bring theory and practice together to form their own perspectives. They will be encouraged to think critically about all of the key concepts that are explored in the module and to think about how they relate to wider questions and debates in Politics and International Relations (but also in psychology and history) about elite attitudes and behaviours. Using a range of learning methods including group presentations, research-based problem-solving exercises, film analysis, and general discussion and debate, you will have the opportunity to consider explanations of what elites do and how they shape contemporary world politics.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. demonstrate knowledge of the major theories of elite decision-making in the field of political psychology in oral and written work;
2. discuss different theories and research in oral and written work;
3. apply major psychological theories to elite decision-making in written essays;
Discipline-Specific Skills4. demonstrate comprehension and the ability to use key concepts pertaining to elite decision-making in oral and written work;
5. synthesize and critique major theories and arguments in the field in your written work;
6. demonstrate that you understand the implications of new evidence for a given theory in your oral and written work;
7. demonstrate that you can identify different methods of research in the field and their possible implications for findings in your oral and written work;
Personal and Key Skills8. work independently and in groups, including presentations for class discussion, and in spontaneous discussion and defence of arguments in class;
9. demonstrate oral and written analytical and organizational skills in essays, group presentations and group discussion with some guidance; and
10. write essays to a deadline