Skip to main content

Power and Politics in the UK


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Laura Richards-Gray
  • Assessment: a 1000-1500-word critial review (25%), 3000-3500-word essay (65%) and two online quizzes (10%)

    Module description

    British politics has seen remarkable upheaval in recent years, culminating in the UK’s departure from the European Union. In the course of that upheaval, new light has been cast on basic questions about British democracy. In what sense is Parliament ‘representative’? Does it adequately control the government and hold it to account? Is the constitutional order adequate to the challenges of divergence between popular and representative politics, and between England and the other three nations of the United Kingdom?

    This course provides the analytical tools to address these and other contemporary issues and debates. It begins with a critical look at the UK’s political and constitutional order, and goes on to introduce central ideas in political science around the nature of social cleavages and the role of party politics. The second half of the course delves further into specific aspects of the nature of the state: the organisation of the political executive and the role of the civil service and the judiciary.

    The course is taught through: lectures which introduce you to the key literature and main concepts, ideas and developments in each aspect of British politics covered; and seminars based on student reading. In addition you are invited to public lectures and other public events organised by the Politics Department’s Centre for British Political Life.

    Learning objectives

    On completing the course you will have:

    • advanced knowledge of British political institutions and of the relationship between state and society in contemporary Britain
    • a critical appreciation of the nature of the modern British political system
    • familiarity with important scholarly writing on British politics
    • familiarity with political science approaches and the ability to apply these to British politics.