British Government and Politics

Module titleBritish Government and Politics
Module codePOC1003
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Joanie Willett (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The British political system has changed dramatically. To take just one example the civil service has changed more dramatically over the last 30 years than in the previous 125. But we have also seen changes to the committee system in the House of Commons and to the composition of the House of Lords; devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; an elected mayor of London; the introduction of electoral systems other than first-past-the-post for some elections; a referendum on the parliamentary voting system; and an expanded European Union in crisis.

All of these changes are overlaid by a new politics of the permanent campaign and direct action and, most recently, by the worst economic crisis in generations. You will examine all of these changes from the traditional Westminster model and their implications for British politics.

No prior knowledge skills or experience are required to take this module and it is suitable for specialist and non-specialist students. This module is not recommended for interdisciplinary pathways.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module provides you with an introduction to British politics which is intended to provoke thought and provide foundational concepts for the academic study of this topic. The lectures introduce you to the main institutions and processes of government with contemporary emphasis but historical awareness. The module covers democracy in Britain, electoral politics, executive politics and structures for developing and implementing public policy. A theme of the course will be the changes in the British constitution over the last 20 years or so. A second theme is to stress the new politics of permanent campaigning and direct action in a context where power is shifting upwards (to Europe) and downwards (to the devolved territories).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate your knowledge of the basic institutions and operation of British politics, recent political history and contrasting perspectives on developments in British politics in written and oral work.
  • 2. evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and perspectives on British politics and anticipate how British politics is likely to evolve over the next five years in written and oral work.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. place descriptive material within a conceptual and theoretical context and to move from the concrete to the abstract and vice versa, and an ability to assimilate and analyse a wide range of disparate data in written work.
  • 4. interpret and apply theory and evidence about political institutions and processes in written and oral work.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. demonstrate effective essay writing techniques, including the ability to evaluate and synthesise relevant material
  • 6. demonstrate effective seminar presentation skills and engage in seminar discussion
  • 7. engage effectively in group work, including group activities during seminars

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module's precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:



-Political participation

-Mass media

-Prime Minister, Cabinet, civil service

-Multi-level governance

-The House of Commons and the House of Lords

-Parties and leaders

-Environmental policy and climate change

-Economic Policy

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 Activity16.5 Lectures (11 x 1.5 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity10Seminars (10 x 1 hours) Every student will be expected to present during the term
Guided independent study123.5Reading: 44 hours (1 on text book; 3 on required and recommended, per week). Writing notes from readings: 16.5 (1.5 hours per week). Assignments: 63 hours (6 on bibliographic essay; 28.5 on each essay)


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial presentation15 minutes1,2,4,6, 7Oral in class

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
Bibliographic Exercise401500 1,5Written
Essay 602000 1-5Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Bibliographic Exercise1500 words1, 5August/September assessment period
Essay2000 words1-5August/September assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bill Jones and Philip Norton, Politics UK, Pearson/Longman, 8th edn, 2013

R Heffernan and C Hay, Developments in British Politics 10, Macmillan, London, 2016

Simon Lee and Matt Beech, The Cameron-Clegg Government, Macmillian, London, 2011

Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon, Cameron at 10: The Inside Story 2010-2015, London William Collins, 2016

Tim Bale, The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron. 2nd edn Cambridge: Polity, 2016

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

British Government Politics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date