This module introduces the different political institutions, issues, concepts and debates that shape contemporary British politics. It is particularly useful for those students who have not studied British politics before. The module will explore and describe Britain’s political system, focusing on the role and functions of the main institutions of government, such as the executive and parliament, as well as the key actors, such as political parties.
In the module we will discuss contemporary challenges for the British state, such as: past and on-going constitutional reforms, the changing party system, the changing role of the prime minister, the role of women in British politics, the UK’s difficult relationship with the European Union, devolution, capitalism, and populism.
*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.
One 1500 word essay (15%) and one 2000 word essay (85%)
Educational aims & objectives
- Evaluate the changing character of democracy in the UK.
- Examine the primary institutions of the UK political system – parliament and government at Westminster, and the devolved parliaments and governments.
- Understand the nature of Britain’s multiple, or multi-level, party system and consider why certain parties continue to prosper despite failing to gain seats in Westminster.
- Assess the UK’s different electoral systems and patterns of voting behaviour
- Examine changing forms of political participation and the rise of anti-political attitudes among the British electorate
- Understand the (changing) role of women in British politics
- Explore the UK’s past and present relationship with the European Union
- Investigate populism on the right and left of the British party system(s)
- Examine the role that capitalism has played in shaping British politics
By the end of the module, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate familiarity with the contemporary issues surrounding British Politics
- Begin to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different academic theories and approaches to key issues
- Describe the key structures, actors and debates central to the British Political System and the politics of British policy making
- Interpret these by using different theoretical approaches.
- Demonstrate a broad understanding of the historical and contemporary development of British politics since the Second World War
Two hours per week, one lecture and one seminar
Suggested reading list
The core text for this module is:
Griffiths, S., Leach, R. and Leach, R. (2018) British Politics. Third edition. London: Palgrave