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

Undergraduate Course: Parliamentary Studies (PLIT10091)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is designed to develop expertise in the structures and processes of the UK and Scottish Parliaments, with an encouragement of students throughout to compare and contrast the two Parliaments. Several of the weekly sessions will involve contributions by officials or elected members of the two Parliaments, reflecting an emphasis on learning through engagement with parliamentary practice which is also carried through in the coursework assignments and in practice visits to one, or ideally both, Parliaments. The course begins with a consideration of the research skills and resources which students should use for the course, with substantive sessions following on the distinctiveness of the 'Westminster model', including the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and the House of Lords; the relationships of electorate to parliament, and of legislative to executive branches; women in parliament; and the process and structures of parliamentary decision-making.
Course description a. Academic Description

Despite recent concerns about a crisis of democracy and the rise of ¿anti-politics¿, parliaments and legislatures continue to be the central political arenas in any democratic system. They provide the critical linkages between, for instance, government and the public, government and civil society, and government and backbenchers. This course is designed to provide students with a policy-relevant and theoretically informed examination of parliaments in the United Kingdom. It is therefore concerned both with the formal processes and (perhaps more importantly) the cultures, traditions and relationships that make these institutions work. Although our institutional focus will be on the Houses of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament, students will be encouraged to think comparatively and to situate these cases in a wider context.

The course is intended to be of particular value to those students considering a career in politics. Uniquely, it is taught in association with the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament. Students will develop a detailed knowledge of both parliaments and they will situate this alongside wider concerns about scrutiny, democratic engagement and multi-level governance.

b. Outline Content

The content changes each year depending on our guest speakers, but is likely to include: the parliamentary state; structure and procedure of the UK and Scottish Parliaments; legislative process in Westminster and Holyrood; role and reform of the House of Lords; executive-legislature relations; role and reform of select committees; women in parliament; and parliament and civil society.

c. Student Learning Experience

This course is taught through seminars chaired by the course convener. Each week we will welcome senior parliamentary officials and politicians to discuss the role and reform of parliament. Students must be able to engage with in-depth discussions at this level and thorough preparation is essential. The course also includes a visit to the Scottish Parliament and a visit to the Houses of Parliament in London.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Politics Students Only.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed through a research briefing paper (40%) and an essay (50%). Students will also be given a mark for their performance at tutorials (10%).
Feedback Students can consult the course convener at any time to receive feedback on their performance at seminars. The detailed feedback on the research briefing should allow students to prepare for the course essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate detailed knowledge of the structures and procedures of the UK and Scottish Parliaments
  2. appraise scholarly accounts of legislatures and legislative decision-making in the context of UK and Scottish parliamentary practice
  3. use different scholarly approaches and perspectives on legislatures to develop comparative analysis of the UK and Scottish Parliaments
  4. develop communication and transferable skills, including effective oral and written presentations, by applying scholarly understanding to the demands of parliamentary practice
Reading List
The following indicate the kinds of academic source we recommend:

RAW Rhodes et al (eds), Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions, Oxford University Press, esp. M. Sjoberg Shugart, Comparative Executive-Legislative Relations; J. Carey, Legislative Organisation; E. Uslaner, T. Zittel, Comparative Legislative Behavior; J. Uhr, Bicameralism; and I. Budge, Direct Democracy.
Gary Copeland and Samuel Patterson (eds) (1994), Parliaments in the Modern World, Changing Institutions, University of Chicago Press.
David Judge (1999), Representation: Theory and Practice in the UK, Routledge.
Matt Flinders (2009), Democratic Drift, Oxford University Press.
C. Jeffery and J. Mitchell (eds) (2009), The Scottish Parliament 1999-2009: The First Decade, Luath/Hansard Society.
David Arter (2013), The Scottish Parliament: A Scandinavian-Style Assembly, Routledge.
Jean McFadden and Mark Lazarowicz (2010), The Scottish Parliament: An Introduction, 4th edition, Bloomsbury Professional.
Special edition Parliamentary Affairs, vol.63, 2009 on Devolution: Ten Years On.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements This course has a quota and preference will be given to Politics students.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Marc Geddes
Tel: (0131 6)51 3784
Course secretaryMr Colin Arthur
Tel: (01316)51 3162
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