State of Britain

Module description

The module will engage you in current political debates on how the UK policy agenda is set and the manner in which public policy has changed in recent decades. You will analyse the influences on these trends past and present and discuss the implications of these trends for politics and policymaking. The module combines the use of basic theory with case studies of UK policy making. These are updated on a rolling (annual) basis to ensure they explore contemporary issues that illustrate the role of the State in Britain. The module will provide you with a foundational understanding of how policy is made, exploring the policy process as it relates to the role of the British State.

There are no pre-requisites or co-requisites for this module. It is suitable for students specialising in Politics, but is also recommended for students on interdisciplinary pathways that include politics.

Full module specification

Module title:State of Britain
Module code:POL1001B
Module level:1
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Alice Moseley - Lecturer
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

Through both lectures and seminars, this module aims to:

  • Provide you with a detailed examination of trends, actors, institutions and agenda-setting in UK public policy;

  • Provide academic grounding for you to progress onto a more detailed understanding of public policy processes in stages two and three;

  • Draw together aspects from other level one modules that explore theory and practice in politics; and

Encourage you to bring together lessons learned on the course as a whole and apply them to the policy process in the UK in order to understand how the British State functions.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate awareness of key processes, institutions and actors in British Public Policy
  • 2. demonstrate awareness of the agenda-setting process and way in which different political actors attempt to influence the content and trajectory of public policy.
  • 3. Demonstrate awareness of the complexities of policy implementation, including the tools used and the actors involved
  • 4. Demonstrate an understanding of the changing approaches to public policy and management used by successive governments over the past 20 years, from the Blair Administration onwards

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Extrapolate from large amounts of descriptive material contained in newspaper reports and government publications to general academic understanding
  • 6. Engage critically with material and obtain a degree of academic impartiality on the prevailing trends in UK public policy

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. demonstrate an understanding of theory, moving from the abstract to the concrete.
  • 8. demonstrate essay writing techniques and seminar presentation skills.
  • 9. Work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity16.511 x 1.5 hour Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity10Tutorials are based on lecture topics. Every student will be expected to present a tutorial paper during the year.
Guided Independent study5Preparation for formative seminar presentation
Guided Independent study40Preparation and writing of essay
Guided Independent study40Preparation and revision for examination
Guided Independent study38.5Reading for tutorials

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial group presentation 15 minutes3,5,6, 7Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination501 hour 1-9Oral, from tutor
Essay502,000 words1-8Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination(1 hour)1-9August/September assessment period
EssayEssay(2,000 words)1-8August/September assessment period

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • What is Public Policy and why do we study it?

  • Policy making in the British State: parliamentary processes, institutions and actors

  • Multi-level policy I: Public Policy in a Devolved Britain

  • Multi-level policy II: The Europe Union and British Public Policy

  • Governance and the concept of policy networks: The Rise of the Hollow State?

  • Agenda setting: ideas and actors

  • Policy Implementation and the Tools of Government

  • Making policy in an era of New Public Management

  • Case Study: Health Policy and the NHS

  • Trends in British Policy Making: From Blair to Cameron

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bochel, H and Duncan S (2007) Making Policy in Theory and Practice, Policy Press. 
Colebatch, H. (2002) Policy, OUP 
Dorey, P. (2005) Policy Making in Britain: An Introduction, Sage. 
Judge, D (2005) Political Institutions in the United Kingdom, Oxford University Press. 
Massey, A. (2005) The State of Britain, PMPA. 
Seldon, A and Kavanagh D (2005) The Blair Effect: The Blair Government, Cambridge University Press. 
Richards D and Smith M (2002) Governance and Public Policy in the UK, Oxford University Press.

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