Module Identifier IP34420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor Michael Foley  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours (10 x 2 hours)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment Project Report:  40%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will be able to:

- critically assess the impact of ideas upon the conduct of US politics;
- describe some of the relationships between historical, social, philosophical and political factors in both the raising of issues and in the formulation and projection of public policy options;
- identify and assess how the conceptual properties, operational problems and social implications of such values, when placed in juxtaposition to one another, influences the political agenda of American politics, which shapes how and what is decided in the political sphere.
- discuss and analyse both the motive forces and organising agency of ideas in political argument, and to demonstrate an awareness of how priorities can change either over different periods and across different issue areas.

10 ECTS Credits

Brief description

This module offers an introductory grounding in the nature and political implications of the United States' core beliefs and their relationship to the conduct of American politics.


The module 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.


The module will examine a number of key themes in the established belief structures of the US (e.g. constitutionalism, individualism, equality, democracy, conservatism). It will identify the main properties of each value; locate its significance in a historical and social context; and illustrate its significance in structuring attitudes and establishing priorities in the formation of political issues. The module will then move to describing and analysing the decision-making process and developing how institutions, ideas and traditions interact in the production of public policy (e.g. abortion, gun control, death penalty).

Transferable skills

Students will have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills which will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. Throughout the course, students should practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as basic numeracy skills and self management skills. In lectures students will develop listening and note taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars students will enhance their analytical skills and will practice listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team work and problem solving. Essay writing will encourage students to practice their independent research, writing and IT skills, and the examination will test these skills under time constraint conditions.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
D McKay, D Houghton & A Wroe Controversies in American Politics and Society
M Foley American Political Ideas
R Singh Contemporary American Politics and Society: Issues and Controversies


This module is at CQFW Level 6