Not available in 2021/22
GV4L1      Half Unit
Analytical Approaches to British Politics

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Torun Dewan


This course is available on the MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is designed primarily for students on the PSPE Msc with the relevant training in quantitaive methods and some game theory. It will also be available to students form other programmes with the relevant skill, space permitting.


The course is for students on the Msc Political Science and Political Economy and students fulfilling the core requirements of the programme --completion of GV4C8 and GV481--will be eligible. Other students can be accepted if they have similar quantitative skills as a student having completed the first term of the PSPE programme and space permitting.

Course content

Strøm (2000) argues that  the conceptual essence of Parliamentary government is a “historical evolution” – an accident of 19th century Britain that spread to other parts of the world. Recent analytical political science has shed light on Britain’s political development and how its institutions function, using game theretic modeling, rational choce naratives, and quantitative data. The course covers this literature and takes an analytical approach to topics such as: the historical development of British institutions and Imperial governance;  the emergence and impact of Government-vs-Opposition;  the historical development of the British party system;  the causes and consequence of franchise extension;  the Cabinet and its conventions; and the composition of the Executive and Parliament over time. 


15 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

One summative piece of work of 1500 words to be handed in at the end of reading week.

Indicative reading

  • Cox, G. (1987) The Efficient Secret, Cambridge University Press
  • Berlinski, S., Dewan, T, and Dowding K. (2012) Accounting for Ministers: Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945-2007, Cambridge University Press
  • Mclean, I (2002) Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric from and Manipulation from Peel to Blair, Oxford University Press
  • Schonhardt-Bailey, C (2006)  From the Corn Laws to Free Trade: Interests, Ideas and Institutions in Historical Perspective, MIT Press


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Two hour exam where students will answer 2 from 8 questions.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills