British Government

This information is for the 2020/21 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, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, 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 two groups. 


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.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 51 and a half hours across Michaelmas Term, Lent Term and Summer Term. Some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and classes. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of both the MT and LT terms.

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 summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 27.1
2:1 65.9
2:2 5.9
Third 0
Fail 1.2

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2019/20: 32

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication