Course structure

Please see below an outline of the structure of GV311: British Government. The course will be held on Tuesdays from 5.00pm to 6.30pm throughout the Michaelmas and Lent terms.

GV311 course programme
Week   Date Title and summary Lecturer  Venue 
 1 8 October 2013

Introduction to GV311
British government and politics in wider context and the constituent parts of the system.

Tony Travers, Simon Hix  NAB.LG.09
 2 15 October 2013

Philosophical influences and ideas
The key philosophical influences that affect contemporary British politics.

Paul Kelly  NAB.LG.09
 3 22 October 2013

Evolution of State and Constitution
The development of the key institutions, notably the Monarchy and Parliament, which constitute today’s system of government, possible reforms to the Constitution

Martin Loughlin  NAB.LG.09
 4 29 October 2013

Development of modern British government
Changes since 1945, in particular, including the creation of a fully-democratic franchise, the development of mass welfare, the end of Empire, the increase in the scale of the State and demands for increased transparency and accountability.

Kate Jenkins NAB.LG.09
5 5 November 2013

Civil service, quangos
The development of the contemporary civil service, in particular its traditions of impartiality and generalism, the structure of central government departments and the willingness of successive governments to reconfigure Whitehall.

Kate Jenkins NAB.LG.09
6 12 November 2013

Parliament and government
The operation of the UK Parliament today, including key officers, the Parliamentary roles of government and Opposition, the legislative process, committees and all-party special interest groups.

George Jones NAB.LG.09
7 19 November 2013

Sub-national and local 
19th century municipal development, decline of local government power and its constitutional implications. Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Tony Travers NAB.LG.09
8 26 November 2013

Public finance
How taxation is determined and levied, and how public expenditure is planned and controlled. The operation of the Treasury as Britain’s ‘finance ministry’ within the context of the Parliamentary and legislative frameworks

Tony Travers NAB.LG.09
9 3 December 2013

Policy making and influence 
The ways policy is made and the processes it goes through prior to implementation. Party election manifestos, the use of special advisors, independent inquiries, think tanks, lobbyists and other elements in the evolution and delivery of government policy

Jill Rutter NAB.LG.09
10 10 December 2013

Political parties, election 
The development of political parties, party loyalty and bases of support. Protest voting and extremist parties. The voting systems used in UK national and local election.

Justin Fisher NAB.LG.09
11 14 January 2014

Recent reform 
Proposed reforms to Parliament, including a reduction in the number of MPs, new constituency boundaries, elections for select committee chairs, new types of committee, new sitting times, the removal of hereditary peers and more public accountability. The impacts of devolution.

Tony Wright 32L.LG.04
12 21 January 2014

Scotland and the UK 
Case for independence/staying within the union. Devolution to Edinburgh has created a radically separate political and governmental system since 1999, with further fiscal reform due to take place in 2016.

Jim Gallagher 32L.LG.04
13,14 28 January 2014, 4 February 2014

Party politics 
Relevance of the traditional British political parties in an era of less ideology, greater individualism, rapidly-developing new media and few party members. Are other factors interests now better able to generate mass memberships, policy and lobbying? How might government be organised in a ‘post party’ political system?

Patrick Dunleavy 32L.LG.04
15,16 11 February 2014, 18 February 2014

Role of the media 
These lectures will consider the way the press, TV and radio have traditionally been seen as a key feature of British government and politics. Can new media sustain investigative journalism and expose wrong-doing in government? Statutory restrictions on the media and the way politicians relate to powerful media organisations will be examined.

Charlie Beckett 32L.LG.04
17,18 25 February 2014, 4 March 2014

Accountability, finance
Accountability of government to Parliament in the light of Parliamentarians’ belief there is a need for more effective scrutiny of the executive, in particular in relation to failures of procurement contracts and/or IT systems. The role of the Public Accounts Committee

Richard Bacon MP 32L.LG.04
19,20 11 March 2014, 18 March 2014

Britain and Europe 
To consider the UK’s formal relations with the European Union, the Council of Europe, and other European institutions. Europe has had massive impacts on UK politics which affect domestic politics, with a continuing debate about the country’s relationship with the EU.   

Simon Hix 32L.LG.04