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Divided Power in British Politics


Module description

This  module will give you a stimulating and topical perspective on British government by challenging long-held assumptions about the nature of the UK as a unitary state, the fusion of legislature and executive, the weakness of the judiciary and the unity of cabinet government. The module draws on both recent and classic contributions to the study of British politics to examine such questions as how the devolution settlements might be stabilised and the slide towards independence halted. It looks at the role of the judiciary during the process of leaving the EU, and asks whether judicial power is impaired by the UK’s departure. The nature of party government - the relationships between the party leader, the parliamentary party and the grassroots members - is examined in the light of wider theoretical debates about the tendency for party competition to converge on the centre ground, driving political dissatisfaction and disengagement.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Forming a government
  • The Prime Minister and the Party
  • Ministers and civil servants
  • Delegation to agencies
  • Judicial review and the Human Rights Act
  • Researching executive power
  • Territorial politics and devolution
  • Intergovernmental relations after the UK’s departure from the EU
  • The UK and Ireland
  • Researching the politics of the UK’s nations

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • have a systematic understanding of the institutions of British government and debates about their functioning and interrelationships
  • be able to draw on concepts and theoretical frameworks derived from institutionalist accounts of political stability and change to analyse contemporary developments in British politics
  • be able to make analytical contributions to topical debates about the nature of party politics, the role of the judiciary, the effects of devolution and other issues as they arise
  • be able to synthesise a variety of materials across primary and secondary texts to explain and support your own arguments concerning key issues in contemporary British politics
  • have developed skills of critical thinking, enquiry, synthesis, analysis and evaluation that can be employed on other modules studied at this level.