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POL2045 : British Politics: State and Society

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nick Randall
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module aims to explore the interplay of the UK state and society by analysing key features of the context within which British politics is situated. It will examine key economic, social and ideational institutions and relationships, analyse major trends in relation to these and relate them to both government policies and central bodies of contemporary social theory.

Original Summary:
In this module we will explore the relationship between the UK state and society, examining how economic and social developments influence the agenda and policies of UK governments and how the UK state has shaped the society and economy it governs. We will consider the UK economy as a constraint upon the state and the political influence of trade unions, businesses, the media and think tanks and intellectuals. The impact of class, gender and ethnicity upon the agenda of UK politics will be examined. In addition, the role of the UK state in maintaining political order will be evaluated in the context of the Northern Ireland ‘problem’ and debates upon civil liberties in the UK.

Outline Of Syllabus

Indicative lecture schedule:

Part 1: The British State

1. Introduction to the Module
2. Theories of British Politics: The Westminster Model and Beyond
3. The Changing Character of the British State

4. Party Politics in the UK: 1945-1974 – The Rise and Fall of the ‘Postwar Consensus’
5. Party Politics in the UK after 1974: The Rise and Fall(?) of Neoliberalism

Part 2: State-Economy Relations

6. The UK State and the Performance of the UK Economy
7. The UK State and the Power of Organised Labour
8. The UK State and the Power of Business

Part 3: Social Divisions and the British State

9. Class and UK Politics.
10. Gender and UK Politics
11. The Politics of ‘Race’ and Ethnicity in the UK

Part 4: The British State and Civil Society

12. How the ‘Troubles’ came to Northern Ireland
13. ‘Peace’ in Northern Ireland?
14. Nationalist challenges to the UK state
15. Civil Liberties and UK Politics
16. The Media and UK Politics
17. The Role of Ideas in UK Politics

Part 5: Britain’s World Roles

18. Britain’s World Role: Losing an Empire? Finding a Role?
19. Britain’s World Role: The Anglo-American Relationship
20. Britain’s World Role: Europe and Brexit – The Return or the End of UK Politics?

Characterising State-Society Relationships
21. Leading the UK State

22. Structure and Agency in British politics

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion164:0064:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1100:00100:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the key features of the economic, social, ideational and international contexts of British politics. In addition they serve to outline and illustrate the principal concepts and theories available in understanding these contexts

The seminars will provide an environment in which these empirical, conceptual and theoretical issues can be further explored and critically evaluated by students.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50Take Home Exam (48hr)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A502,000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The 48 hour take home examination will assess the students understanding of, and ability to critically evaluate, in time limited conditions, the key ideas, concepts and theories and empirical material of the course across the entirety of the curriculum. The time limited character of this assessment fosters and evaluates the skills that students may be expected to possess in the graduate workplace.

The 2000 word essay will provide an opportunity for students to explore one of the topics in greater depth. It will assess the student’s ability to place and synthesise the material gained from lectures, and seminars and independent reading in appropriate contexts and their ability to critically and succinctly evaluate the ideas, concepts and theories introduced in lectures and explored in seminars.

Reading Lists