Module Identifier IP34420  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Professor Michael Foley  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours (10 x 2 hours)  
Assessment Project report   Project (2,500 words)   40%  
  Exam   2 Hours   60%  


The module will enable students to understand the influence of traditional precepts in American political debate; to appreciate the reasons for the extraordinary intensity of some of America's key issues (e.g. abortion, gun control, death penalty); to gain an insight into the problems inherent in America's liberal state; and to grasp some of the relationships between historical, social, philosophical and political factors in both the raising of issues and the process of policy-making.

10 ECTS Credits


The course provides an analysis of the role that a number of key ideas have had not only in the history of the United States and in the development of its political system, but in the formation of contemporary issue agendas.

Brief description

Although the United States is traditionally reputed to be deficient in political ideologies, American politics is in fact informed and conditioned by a series of conflicts between several seminal ideas. Political discourse and argument is based upon the usage, application, mobilisation and often manipulation of certain fundamental core values that offer the prospect of legitimacy for political positions, policies and impulses. Far from ignoring or avoiding political ideas, the United States has cultivated an extraordinary facility for identifying and exploring them. American political culture is pervaded by profound attachments to such ideas as democracy, liberty, individual rights, property, constitutionalism, equality and national destiny. The conceptual properties, operational problems and social implications of such values placed in juxtaposition to one another characterise the conduct of American politics and largely determines how and what is decided in the political sphere.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
B Guy Peters. American Public Policy.
Manning Marable. Race, Reform and Rebellion.