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School of Politics and International Relations

POL108 Background to British Politics

POL108 Background to British Politics

Credits: 15
Semester: 2

Module Convenor: Dr Colm Murphy
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: None

Description: This module provides the essential historical background to contemporary British Politics and interrogates the ways in which history shapes politics - and how politicians (mis)use history today. Adopting a mixed chronological and thematic approach, it begins by exploring the British Empire and decolonisation, the birth of the 'United Kingdom' and its centrifugal pressures, the origins of British democratic and representative institutions, and the development of the modern party system. The module situates these historical developments in social conflicts, political turmoil, and class, gender, racial, and global inequalities, and explores how they still shape (and polarise) politics today.  After this, the module examines three key debates about British political history after the Second World War, which frame contemporary political imaginations: the existence of the so-called 'postwar consensus', the importance and contested legacy of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative governments, and the disruptive impact of European integration until the 2010s. It finishes with two weeks on the political traditions of ‘conservatism’ and ‘socialism’ and their place in the Conservative and Labour parties.

Assessment: Item 1: 30% Presentation (5 minutes); 70% Essay (1500 words)
Level: 4

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