British Government

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Antony Travers


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course is capped at one group. The deadline for enrolments is 12 noon Friday 30th September 2016.


Students must have completed Introduction to Political Science (GV101).

Course content

The course will provide an introduction to contemporary British government, notably the institutions involved and processes of policy-making. The first part of the course will explain the evolution of British government from the earliest times, including the philosophical ideas that have come to underpin contemporary politics. The key institutions of British government will be described and analysed, focusing on factors that explain the functioning of a complex modern State. By the end of the course, students will have a practical understanding of the entire system of British government and the influences that affect it.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Lectures will run from Weeks 1 - 5 and 7-11 in MT and LT. Classes will run from Weeks 1-5 and 7-11 in MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to submit 2 unassessed essays in both the Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

Indicative reading

R. Heffernan, P Cowley and C Hay Developments in British Politics 9, Palgrave Macmillan

P. Norton, The British Polity, 5th Edition, London, Pearson Longman, 2010

M. Garnett and P. Lynch, Exploring British Politics, 2nd edition, London, Pearson Longman, 2009

R. A. W. Rhodes, Everyday Life in British Government, Oxford University Press, 2011

C. Hood, The blame game: spin, bureaucracy, and self-preservation in government, Princeton University Press, 2011


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
First 20.8
2:1 71.7
2:2 5.7
Third 1.9
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2015/16: 20

Average class size 2015/16: 20

Capped 2015/16: Yes (15)

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication