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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED2126 The Conservative Party Since 1945

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Timothy Heppell

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces

PIED2123 The Conservative Party (Churchill to Cameron)

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module seeks to explain how the Conservative Party have defined and positioned themselves as a means to ensure electoral success (the politics of support) and then to demonstrate governing competence (the politics of power). The module will consider how the statecraft strategies adopted by the Conservative Party have evolved since 1945 as mechanisms designed to ensure that they retain their self-proclaimed status as the 'natural party of government'. The module will provide scope for students to analyse the changing nature of Conservative party policy (economic, European and morality) and to examine the evolution of Conservative 'ideology' within the context of Thatcherism and the crisis of meaning and identity in post-Thatcherite Conservatism. When considering the interrelationship between the ideological divides around the economy, European integration and social morality, the module will highlight the complex relationship between the party and their leaders.


The aim of the module is to examine the development of the Conservative Party in government and opposition since 1945.

The module will provide students with an appreciation of the main achievements, challenges and failings of all post war Conservative governments. It will provide students with an understanding of how and why respective Conservative governments lost office and how in opposition recovery and renewal was achieved. To aid students in this the module will exploit statecraft theory and its various component parts - i.e. effective party management; electoral strategy; political argument hegemony and governing competence.

Throughout the module students will reflect upon the ideological disputes that have characterised post-war Conservative Party politics, most notably Thatcherite and post-Thatcherite Conservatism. Here the emphasis will be on economic policy disputes (between wets and dries); European policy disputes (between pro-European and Eurosceptics / between hard and soft Eurosceptics); and between social conservatives and social liberals.

This emphasis on ideological factionalism will enable to students to reflect on the complexities in terms of party management within the Conservative Party, and how ideological factionalism can be linked to leadership selection within the party.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students should be able to:
a) demonstrate a critical understanding of the historical development of the Conservative Party in government and opposition since 1945;
b) demonstrate an in depth knowledge of the internal ideological disputes that have characterised Conservative Party politics and their impact on party management and party leadership selection;
c) demonstrate a command of a range of literature on post war Conservative Party politics;
d) appraise competing theories about the politics of the Conservative Party;
e) use their ability to draw on a range of relevant information in order to present informed arguments in a logical and coherent written format


The module will be delivered through a chronological structure. An indicative syllabus would read as follows (although this may be adapted slightly from one academic year to the next):

Defeat and the Development of 'New' Conservatism 1945-1951
One Nation Conservatism: Dominance and Decline 1951-1964
Policy Renewal and Ideological Change in Opposition1964-1970
The Failure of Quiet Revolution: Heath in Power 1970-1974
The Making of Thatcherism in Opposition 1975-1979
The Free Economy and the Strong State: Implementing Thatcherism 1979-1990
The Crisis of Post-Thatcherite Conservatism: The Major Era 1990-1997
In the shadow of New Labour: The Failure to Modernise 1997-2005
Modernised Conservatism in Opposition 2005-2010
The Debate over Cameronism and its legacy to the Conservative Party 2010-

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students 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 advance of lectures, and will also 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 their seminar tutor in preparation for written assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student attendance will be monitored on a weekly basis. Student contribution to class discussion will be monitored throughout the course, but not assessed. One 1,500 word non-assessed essay for progress monitoring to be submitted at mid- point of module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay 1 x 4,500 word essay (End of Term)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

One 1,500 word essay mid term - non assessed

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:29:43


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