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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: British Politics - Beginning of the End? (PLIT08015)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is a broad introduction to the government and politics of the United Kingdom. Going beyond the usual textbook explanations, it considers whether there is any future for a UK faced with the prospect of Scottish succession, the complexities of Brexit, and the economic pressures of globalization and inequality. We will study the central political institutions of the UK (Parliament, the core executive, the judiciary) and consider the extent to which they have been affected by voter apathy, devolution, and the fragmentation of the party system. Students will acquire a good knowledge of how the British system of government works and the major challenges it faces.

The course serves very well as both a stand-alone introduction to British politics for all Edinburgh students and as a useful (but not required) starting point for further study of British politics in the School of Social and Political Science.
Course description This course provides a detailed but accessible introduction to the government and politics of the United Kingdom. We will study the main political institutions of the UK and how they have been affected by devolution, voter apathy and the increasing fragmentation of the party system. Does Parliament matter or does it merely approve decisions taken elsewhere? Does the Prime Minister dominate the British system? Will Brexit lead to the break-up of the UK? Why do people vote UKIP?

Each week, students will be introduced to important institutions and debates in the study of British government. We will consider, in particular: the British parliamentary state and the enduring influence of the Westminster Model; the peculiar nature of the constitution; the management of the (increasingly) multi-national nature of the UK; and the explanations for and impact of the vote for Brexit.

The course aims to give students the knowledge to be able to take part in informed debates about the politics of the UK. They will be able to place current developments in context and assess the extent to which the UK provides an example of a state that is dealing well with the challenges of governing in the twenty-first century.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  216
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 167 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay (1500 words) 40%
2 hour examination 50%
Tutorial participation 10%

Feedback All essays will be returned with feedback within 15 working days of submission. General and individual exam feedback will also be provided.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a good knowledge of the central political institutions of the United Kingdom and be able to place them in historical context
  2. Show an awareness of key debates about the nature of British government, especially concerning centralization, the Westminster Model and the constitution;
  3. Be able to assess recent changes to the UK state, including devolution, constitutional reforms, and the fragmentation of British politics
  4. Have acquired skills in writing scholarly essays in political science and participating in informed debates about current political issues
Reading List
Michael Moran, Politics and Governance in the UK

Norton et al., Politics UK

Richards et al. (eds.) Institutional Crisis in Twenty-First Century Britain

Cowley et al. (eds.) Developments in British Politics Ten
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students should have strengthened their skills in:
Communication and Research - analysing evidence and using this to develop and support a line of argument in oral and written work;
Critical Analysis - comparing, contrasting and evaluating different arguments in the work of other authors;
Project Management - working independently and as part of groups, prioritising objectives, and working to deadlines;
IT - locating material online, using blogs, LEARN and other online resources;
Social Responsibility - developing awareness how political systems work and how they may empower certain individuals at the expense of others.

KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Alan Convery
Tel: (0131 6)50 8255
Course secretaryMr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131) 6 509 975
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