British Politics

School: School of Government and Society
Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies

Second year module

Lecturer: Professor Colin Thain

The first term introduces major theoretical approaches to the understanding of British politics and unpacks the core components of the British political system, such as the Constitution, Parliament, the Executive, Civil Service, Whitehall, voting and devolution.

The second term applies these fundamental understandings to issues and periods in British politics from the turn of the twentieth century onwards. In 2014-15 there will be special sessions on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the 2015 General Election. 

Students will be given the opportunity to act in The Audience, a play about the role of the Monarch and her Prime Ministers. Attached to the module is a British Politics Forum, in which the students are given the opportunity to invite guest speakers to speak on topics relevant to the module.

There will be a number of relevant British Politics-themed film screenings throughout the course of this module. These usually take place on a Wednesday afternoon. There is also to the opportunity for the group to watch Prime Minister’s Questions (when parliament is in session) on Wednesdays 12.00-13:15, followed by a discussion lead by the module convenor.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical appreciation of theoretical approaches and conceptual discussions relating to political governance and institutions in British politics
  • Have an awareness of political developments in British politics during the 20th century and beyond
  • Have an ability to place British political practices and events into a wider context of governance in the contemporary world


  • Term Two: 1 essay x 2,000 word assessed work (50%)
  • Term Three: 2 hour examination (50%)

Related courses:

The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2018. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.