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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


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

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.

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.

Reading Lists