Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
UK Politics Today: A Union Under Strain?
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 4 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word briefing paper  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,000 word briefing paper  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss in detail different accounts of the historical evolution of the UK state.
2. Outline in detail the main features of the UK’s evolving governing arrangements.
3. Identify and discuss the key points of debate within major areas of public policy across the UK.
4. Compare and contrast different positions taken in current debates regarding citizenship, solidarity and identity in the UK.

Brief description

The module aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to contemporary UK politics. The material covered will include: the historical evolution of the UK state; the nature of the UK’s current governing arrangements; the approaches to public policy adopted within the UK; and contemporary debates regarding notions of citizenship and identity, including the continued relevance of the idea of Britishness. A key question that will be examined throughout the module will be to what extent is it still tenable to conceive of the UK as a single and unified political system?


The module will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. It will be divided into four different sections:

Section 1: Development and structure of the UK state
This opening section will examine the historical development of the UK state, territorially, institutionally and economically. As part of this, the longstanding tradition of portraying the UK as a classical unitary state will be questioned and challenged.

Section 2: Governing the UK today
This section will critically examine the nature of the UK’s current governing arrangements. The discussion will begin by focusing on Westminster, before moving on to consider the implications of the devolution arrangements for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The section will also examine the place of England and its regions within the UK’s multi-level system of government, as well as considering the influence of the UK's links with regional or international institutions, in particular the EU.

Section 3: Policies and issues in UK politics
This section will focus on a series of key policy issues that reflect the nature of contemporary UK politics (e.g. public service delivery, economic management, foreign and defense policy). The different types of approaches that have been advanced in different policy areas will be examined, and in each case the respective influence of ideological and territorial affiliations will be considered.

Section 4: Citizenship and identity in the UK today
The module's final section will begin by analyzing the debates that have emerged regarding citizenship and social solidarity as the UK state has become increasingly decentralized. This will lead on to an examination of current debates regarding national identity, and in particular, a critical examination of the notion of Britishness.

The module will close with concluding sessions that seek to assess the current state of the UK and assess possible future trajectories.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Students will also be required to submit their written assessments in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication..
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from the module convenor and other students. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding how to answer assessed essay questions.
Information Technology Students will enhance their proficiency using Blackboard, where materials to support learning will be made available. Students will also develop skills in searching for, and assessing the validity of, online information sources as part of preparation for lectures, seminars and assessed tasks. Assessed work will be presented in electronic format, according to standard expectations.
Personal Development and Career planning The module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work requires students to write clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the preparation of two assessed pieces of written work will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and formulate an answer to the problem; reason logically; construct theoretical arguments; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research in order to complete the assessed work. This will involve utilizing a range of information sources, including core academic texts, journal articles etc.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: • Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module • Evaluate competing perspectives • Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary social and political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work


This module is at CQFW Level 5