2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue
PIED3160 Prime Ministers and British Politics
20 creditsClass Size: 90
Module manager: Prof. Kevin Theakston
Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable
Year running 2019/20
This module is approved as a discovery module
Module summaryWho has been the most successful British prime minister in the last half century? Who was the worst? How much power does the prime minister really have? Is the British system nowadays becoming more "presidential"? How do politicians get to the top of the "greasy pole"? How easy is it to get rid of a prime minister? How do different prime ministers handle the media, run foreign policy, deal with the bear pit of question time in Parliament? In this module you will look at the careers, political styles, governing methods and the records of all the Labour and Conservative prime ministers since 1964: Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May. You will also be introduced to key issues, theories and debates about the role, power and leadership of the prime minister in the British political and governmental system. The module presupposes some background in British politics and/or contemporary British history.
ObjectivesThe module is concerned with prime ministers and the prime-ministership in modern British politics. It involves case study analysis of prime ministers since 1964 - studying the careers, political styles, governing methods and the records of successive Labour and Conservative prime ministers in the context of the circumstances they faced in office (Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May). Each PM is also studied in terms of their experience of getting and losing the leadership; their use of Number 10 advisers and the government machine; their relationship to Cabinet, parliament, media and the public; their roles in economic policy and/or foreign policy . The module also deals with key issues, theories and debates about the role, power and leadership of prime ministers and assessment of their effectiveness and success/failure in office.
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the careers, political styles, governing methods and the records of British prime ministers in the context of the circumstances they faced in office;
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key issues, theories and debates and about the role, power and leadership of the prime minister in the British political and governmental system;
- demonstrate skills in the use and analysis of historical and biographical source material relevant to the study of prime ministers, together with an understanding of the relevant political science literature.
1. The changing role and power of the British prime minister.
2. Harold Wilson (1964-70 and 1974-76)
3. Edward Heath (1970-74)
4. James Callaghan (1976-79)
5. Margaret Thatcher (1979-90)
6. John Major (1990-97)
7. Tony Blair (1997-2007)
8. Gordon Brown (2007-10)
9. David Cameron (2010-16)
10. Theresa May (2016- )
11. Assessing British prime ministers.
|Delivery type||Number||Length hours||Student hours|
|Private study hours||178.00|
|Total Contact hours||22.00|
|Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)||200.00|
Private studyStudents are asked to read key articles and chapters listed in the module reading list in preparation for seminar discussions and their essays.
Students will be provided with lecture notes in the form of power point slides in the lectures, and will be provided with seminar preparation questions to guide their reading.
Students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on an essay plan and discuss this with the seminar tutor in preparation for written assessments
Opportunities for Formative FeedbackStudent contributions to seminar discussion.
Opportunities for individual discussions outside seminar times.
Opportunity to submit a short (up to 1500 words) essay plan or outline, and to receive written/verbal feedback and guidance.
Methods of assessment
|Assessment type||Notes||% of formal assessment|
|Essay||1 x 4,000 End of Term Essay||100.00|
|Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)||100.00|
Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated
Reading listThe reading list is available from the Library website
Last updated: 19/06/2019
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