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

Undergraduate Course: British Government (PLIT10103)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe Honours Seminar in British Government is an advanced senior honours course that examines the challenges of governing the United Kingdom in the twenty-first century. We will analyse critically and historically ideas that the political system is "broken", that there is no difference between the main parties, and that parliament and government are in "crisis".
Course description Academic Description
In recent times a 'perfect storm' of problems seems to have engulfed many of Britain's most important political institutions. The cornerstones of the Westminster system and the British Political Tradition are under strain. Traditional understandings of the role of Parliament, the Union, the constitution and the two-party system have all been called into question.
This course aims to give students the knowledge and analytical skills to make sense of British governance in the twenty-first century and to engage critically with the latest empirical and theoretical research on British politics. We will study the evolution of the British system and whether it is now coping with or buckling under the strain of an unprecedented combination of challenges. We will also link our discussions to wider questions in political science about the nature of governance in the twenty-first century and how we should study it.

Outline Content
The key themes of our seminars will be: The Westminster Model and the British Political Tradition; theories of British politics; the political constitution; the Conservative Governments (1979-1997); the Labour Governments (1997-2010); the Coalition Government (2010-2015); challenges to the party system; Whitehall; foreign policy; and apathy and anti-politics.

Student Learning Experience
The course is taught through one lecture and one two-hour seminar each week.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the compulsory pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  45
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 164 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay 1 - 2500 words (50%)
Essay 2 - 2500 words (50%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. acquire an in-depth sense of the chronology and development of British politics in the latter half of the twentieth century, and they will be able to discuss how this political history has affected the present state of British government.
  2. acquire a deep knowledge of the workings of the central formal political institutions in the UK (including Whitehall, Parliament and the core executive) and the challenges they face.
  3. place the UK in the context of wider debates about the nature of government in the twenty-first century, particularly in relation to voter disengagement, political economy and 'governance' perspectives.
  4. assess the strengths and weaknesses of competing theories of British governance and relate these to wider debates about the nature of social and political science.
  5. sharpen their research and presentation skills through delivering extended papers to the class and the writing of scholarly essays.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills In-depth knowledge of the political institutions of the United Kingdom.
Ability to write with economy and clarity.
Ability to present ideas clearly to groups based on a written paper.
Ability to have an informed and critical argument about competing perspectives on the nature of government in the twenty-first century
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Alan Convery
Tel: (0131 6)50 8255
Course secretaryMr James Heitler
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