Module Catalogue 2019/20

POL3111 : UK Parliamentary Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Tom Caygill
  • 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



The aims in this module are to enable students:
1.       Gain a detailed knowledge of how the Westminster Parliament works in both theory and practice
2.       Scrutinise the capacity of Westminster to fulfill five key democratic functions of parliament: representation, recruitment and maintenance of a government, scrutiny of the executive, legislation, and debate
3.       View Westminster in comparative perspective

Outline Of Syllabus

Parliamentary Studies aims to provide students with a detailed knowledge of how the Westminster Parliament works in both theory and practice. The overarching and coordinating theme of the module will be to scrutinise the capacity of Westminster to fulfill five key democratic functions of parliament: representation, recruitment and maintenance of a government, scrutiny of the executive, legislation, and debate. It therefore focuses on how the Houses of Parliament operates. Westminster will be analysed in comparative perspective, particularly in relation to the devolved Parliaments in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. It provides students with a sense of why cultures, traditions and informal relationships matter as well as formal procedures. Indicative topics include:

•       The Functions of Parliament
•       The Scottish Parliament
•       The Northern Ireland Parliament
•       The Welsh Parliament
•       The role and reform of Select Committees
•       Parliament and scrutiny
•       Parties and Parliament
•       Descriptive representation and Parliament
•       Debate and deliberation in Parliament
•       The role and reform of the House of Lords
•       Parliament and the media
•       Public Engagement with Parliament
•       Parliament and E-Governance and E-Democracy
• Parties and Parliament

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module the student will be able to:
1. Integrate theoretical and practical knowledge about Parliament.
2. Apply conceptual tools to understand, evaluate and critically analyse, in-depth, the functions of parliament and the features of parliament that promote this function in practice.
3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the limitations of a feature of parliament to promoting a key function and demonstrate some originality and creativity by providing practical recommendations to address this failing.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Develop their critical-analytical ability and planning and organisational skills. Demonstrate appropriate communicative and transferable skills including making effective use of library and electronic resources to acquire relevant information, engaging in seminar discussion, and provision of written, reasoned and co-ordinated arguments.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study164:0064:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Student contact will primarily take place through a series of lectures and seminar classes, supported by engagement through the module’s virtual learning environment. The lectures introduce students to the key themes, focusing on the academic and theoretical framing of the theme. Each lecture would be followed by a one hour seminar where the seminars allow for participation by students in clarifying and exploring key ideas and issues. These help to develop critical-analytical and oral communication skills. Further materials will be available via the modules VLE, where there will be a further opportunity for a virtual and more flexible discussion of the module themes.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502,000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate skills in research, critical analysis, writing, referencing and working autonomously. The parliamentary report is aimed at developing academic and employability skills. In the course of selecting, researching, and writing up a report on a specific aspect of parliamentary operation students will learn about the substance of parliament, finding secondary sources, properly citing them, and developing research skills.


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.