Introduction to American Politics

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

Second year module

Lecturer: Dr Robert Watt

This module surveys not only the institution of the American presidency but also the broad and complex subject of American government and politics. Aspects include political culture, political institutions, political decision-making, leadership, participation, elections and a range of contemporary topics in American politics and society. We will look in particular at debates about the degree to which, and the way in which, the American political system lives up to the ideals and norms of liberal democracy.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key institutions of US politics.
  • Provide a critical understanding of the dynamic and unique nature of US politics.
  • Realise the centrality of the US Constitution in US political processes.
  • Understand the key role that Federalism plays in the dynamics of US politics.


  • 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.