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POL3053 : Political Leadership in Britain

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nick Randall
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Questions of leadership are ubiquitous in British politics. Leaders are subject to ongoing commentary in print, broadcast and social media. Opinion polls routinely collect popular assessments of leaders, while valence politics renders attitudes towards political leaders increasingly electorally salient. The diaries, autobiographies, and biographies of leaders reach wide audiences. However, much of the discussion and assessment of leadership in Britain is insular and atheoretical. This module therefore aims to examine political leadership in Britain by reference to a range of theoretical debates in political science and kindred disciplines.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics on the syllabus are likely to include:

- What is Political Leadership?
- Biography, Psychology, Personality and British Political Leadership
- British Political Leaders and Their Followers
- Performance and British Political Leadership
- British Political Leaders and the Electorate
- The Body Politic? Gender and British Political Leadership
- Blunders, Scandals, Crises and British Political Leadership
- Foreign Policy Leadership
- Ethics and British Political Leadership
- Into the Political Sunset: Leaving Office, Political Legacies, and the Evaluation of British Political Leadership

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:3016:30Present in person lectures
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials140:307:00Pre-recorded videos examining the careers of the 14 prime ministers to be studied in the module
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:3016:30Present in person seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1160:00160:00Seminar preparation; assessment preparation and completion.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The pre-recorded video content introduces students to the careers of the 14 post-war UK prime ministers to be studied in the module.

The in-person lectures introduce students to the key topics of the module.

The present in person seminars are designed to actively engage students in critical discussion of the core theoretical, conceptual, and empirical concerns of the module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1004,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will complete one essay portfolio of 4000 words. The essay portfolio will comprise two components. The first component (2000 words) will analyse one individual leader in depth using the theories and concepts introduced and examined in the module. The second component (2000 words) will require students to select a theoretical approach to the study of political leadership. Students will then critically evaluate that perspective by applying it to several British political leaders studied in the module.

Reading Lists