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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Politics Short Name: POL201
Level: HE2 Module Co-ordinator: USHERWOOD S Dr (Politics)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability

Year long

Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
Essay (2000 words)
Essay (2500 words)
Student Presentation
Formal exam (2 hrs)
Qualifying Condition(s) 
·        50% attendance at tutorials/seminars is required to take the final exam

Module Overview

This module will present the basic elements of modern political systems to students. This works up from basic ideas of the link between state and citizens, to more precise institutional features. The last part focuses on challenges to the state system and its outputs. Students will explore specific case-studies illustrating the lecture topics in their seminars.

Module Aims

The maim aims of this module are to:

  • Consolidate and develop students’ knowledge of comparative government. 
  • Provide students with skills to describe and analyse national power structures and processes.
  • Introduce basic literature to students.
Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Learning Outcomes

  • By the end of the module, students will be expected to be able to: 
  • Describe national political systems and their constituent elements.
  • Identify and interpret power relations between political actors. 
  • Make critical evaluations of differences between various national political systems. 
  • Assess challenges to the position of the modern state. 
  • Critically apply theoretical literature to practical examples.

Generic Learning Outcomes and Skills

Cognitive Skills 

  • Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources.
  • Identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems. 
  • Construct reasoned argument, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement. 
  • Reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback.
  • Engage in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary debates. 
  • Evaluate research material. 
  • Apply theoretical frameworks to policy/empirical analysis.

Transferable skills 

  • Communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing. 
  • Use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information. 
  • Deploy a range of relevant research skills. 
  • Adopt a proactive approach to problem solving.

Practical skills 

  • Make appropriate use of information and communications technology. 
  • Demonstrate their ability to present work orally. 
  • Employ relevant research skills to investigate a politics- or policy-related area. 
  • Access relevant politics- and policy-related datasets and be able to retrieve data from them.
Module Content
  • Political Systems: Classifications, models and heuristics.
  • Constitutions: theoretical basis, models, scope and enforcement. 
  • Interest Representation: the link between citizen and state, individual vs. collective action, top-down and bottom-up approaches, socio-political change, electoral systems. 
  • Political Parties: definitions, classifications, activities, relationship to state, contemporary challenges to parties’ roles. 
  • Executives: definition, function, scope, relationship to legislatures, control mechanisms. 
  • Legislatures: definition, function, relationship to executives and citizens, changing roles. 
  • Judiciaries: definition, function, enforcement mechanisms, politicisation. 
  • Bureaucracies: definition, function, models, relationship to executives, contemporary challenges and reform. 
  • Europeanisation and Globalisation Effects on the State: how has the State reacted to the opening-up of transnational governance, with its potential bypassing of the national level? How have these processes affected state structures and processes?
Methods of Teaching/Learning

Lectures, seminars, student presentations, prescribed reading, independent learning.

Selected Texts/Journals


Hague, R. & Harrop, M. (2004) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction, 6th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave.


Almond, G. & Verba, S. (1989) The Civic Culture. London: Sage

Bogdanor, V. & Butler, D. (1983) Democracy & Elections: Electoral Systems and their Consequences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

LeDuc, L., et al. (eds.) (2002) Comparing Democracies 2. London: Sage.

Mény, Y & Knapp, A. (1998) Government and Politics in Western Europe: Britain, France, Italy, Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon Schuster.

Ware, A. (1996) Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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