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

Undergraduate Course: The Politics of the UK Constitution (PLIT10119)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe contested nature of the UK constitution and debates on reform have are key features of UK politics. This course will set these debates into context and consider the nature of the UK constitution in the conceptual literature on comparative constitutions. A running theme throughout the course will be consideration of the nature of the UK constitution as a whole and how it may have been transformed by reforms.

Course description Constitutional politics have become more prominent in the UK in recent decades especially following the passage of the Blair Government's programme of constitutional reform. The individual items have tended to be studied in isolation despite evidence that changes in one part of the constitution has implications for other parts. This class is designed to understanding the UK constitution as a whole. It raises questions as to the form of change enacted placing such debates in wider context of institutional and constitutional reform.
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:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay: 50%
Exam: 50%
Feedback The essay will be returned within 15 days of submission.
Each week will focus on a key question with selected readings. All students will participate in the first section of the weekly seminars by briefly outlining what they have read, learned and respond to the tutor. This aims to ensure that students have prepared for each week, ensure student participation, and allow the tutor to guide subsequent discussion. This will be followed by student presentations and finally by a tutor led discussion - usually 10/15 minutes from between 1-3 students depending on student numbers. Written feedback will give provided to each student presenting a paper in seminar.
The last section will involve tutor led discussion to ensure any matters of substance not already covered are discussed and will be accompanied by powerpoint slides made available to the class at the start of the weekly seminar.
Each week's seminar will be supplemented by online discussion with key questions posted by the class tutor with ensuing discussion.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Exam2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand different conceptions of the UK constitution
  2. engage critically with various authors contesting the nature of the UK constitution
  3. reflect on the changing nature of the UK constitution
  4. acquire a political science perspective on constitutional politics
  5. relate debates on aspects of the UK constitution to understandings of the UK as a whole.
Reading List
Bogdanor, Vernon (2009), The New British Constitution.
Gordon, Michael (2015), Parliamentary Sovereignty in the UK Constitution: Process, Politics and Democracy.
King, Anthony (2001), Does the United Kingdom still have a constitution? London, Sweet & Maxwell.
McLean, Iain (2009), What's wrong with the British Constitution.
Maer, L., Hazell, R., King, S., Russell, M., Trench, A., Sandford, M. (2004). Dragging the Constitution out of the Shadows. Parliamentary Affairs 57(2), 253-268
Oliver, Dawn (2006), Constitutional Reform in the UK.
Russell, M. and Cowley, P. (2015). The Policy Power of the Westminster Parliament: The 'Parliamentary State' and the Empirical Evidence. Governance

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - conceptual analysis applying political debates into a conceptual framework;
- understanding the relationship between constitutional institutions and political power;
- improved their communication and research skills by engaging and applying the literature with fluency.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf James Mitchell
Course secretaryMr James Heitler
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