Module Catalogue 2019/20

POL1017 : Governing Under Pressure: The Politics of the UK & EU

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Geoff Horn
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module focuses on a range of contemporary problems and issues in UK and EU politics. Approaching the complex pressures on UK and EU governance through a thematic approach requires students to come to grips with the key features of the British and EU political systems and gain knowledge of the institutions and pressures on both political systems.
The module aims:
•       To provide a foundational understanding of the history, evolution, character and effectiveness of the key political institutions in these political systems
•       To provide a foundational understanding of the key challenges and pressures faced by institutions and political processes and an awareness of the variety of forms these may take via in depth study of the UK political system and the European Union
•       To provide a foundational understanding of the interactions between the two political systems, via the concept of multi-level governance

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture Outline:

1. European Political Systems: Introduction to the Module

The UK

2. Modernisation and UK politics
3. Distrust and the UK political system
4. Participation and UK politics
5. Political parties in the UK
6. Representation and UK politics
7. Leadership in UK politics
8. Policy failure in UK politics
9. Accountability in UK politics
10. Britain, Britishness and the ‘Break Up of Britain’?
11. UK politics in its international context

The European Union

12. Routes to Membership and Ambitions of the Member States, part I.
13. Routes to Membership and Ambitions of the Member States, part II.
14. Routes to Membership and Ambitions of the Member States, part III.
15. The Evolution of the Communities.
16. The Commission and the Legitimacy of Technocratic Policy-making.
17. The Council of Ministers and the Question of Sovereignty.
18. The European Parliament and the Democratic Question.
19. The European Court of Justice and the Rule of Law.
20. Simulation preparation lecture
21. Revision lecture

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

The module aims to promote the following knowledge outcomes:

• A foundational knowledge of key institutions and challenges common to liberal democratic polities
• A foundational knowledge of the institutional features of two important and complex political systems which will provide the basis for deeper study of these or other political systems in stages 2 and 3 of the curriculum
•       An understanding of the challenges and pressures leading to continuities and change in political systems and the particular form these take in the UK and EU
•       The ability to assess how two political systems interact through the operation of ‘multi-level governance’

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of this module students will have gained:

• The ability to make informed, considered and comparative analyses of the two political systems
covered in the course
• Enhanced writing skills through completion of one essay
• Enhanced oral skills through oral contributions and presentations in seminars
•       Extensive team working and problem solving skills gained throughout the simulation assessments.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Simulations 8-10 groups
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Drop in advice surgeries for each political system related to preparing for simulations and essays
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce students to the key information, concepts and debates that will provide the basis for self-directed study and seminar discussion. These lectures will draw upon a range of theoretical and empirical examples drawn from literature on the UK and EU political systems to provide relevant examples.

The seminars will provide an environment in which students can explore and deepen their understanding of the issues raised in lectures and readings through discussion in a small group context with their peers, via the exploration of case studies and through asking questions. The seminars will also provide the context in which students will develop many of the skills outcomes associated with the module. They will be central to the development of critical thinking and data synthesis skills. The seminars, with their requirement for advance preparation, will promote self-management skills while the in-seminar discussions will provide opportunities to develop and enhance interaction and group-working skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination602A40Unseen multiple response taken via Blackboard
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M351500 words (at end of semester)
Practical/lab report2M251x 2hr simulation (at end of semester)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The unseen multiple response examination will assess students understanding of key concepts, theories and empirical material across the entirety of the syllabus

The 2000 word essay will provide students with the opportunity to explore aspects of one political system in greater depth. The essays will provide a means of assessing their ability to place and synthesise the material gained from lectures and seminars in addition to empirical, conceptual and theoretical understandings derived from their own independent study. The essays will also assess students’ ability to critically and succinctly evaluate such material.

The simulation will provide students with a means of improving their transferable skills particularly relating to oral presentation, problem solving and team working skills via role-playing exercises related to one of the political systems which are the focus of the course. The political systems addressed by simulations and essays will alternate annually.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.