British Government

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Antony Travers


This course is available on the BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in History and Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Data Science, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy and BSc in Social Anthropology. 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. 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, 2011

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


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Online assessment duration: 7 days in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 31.2
2:1 62.5
2:2 5.2
Third 1
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 34

Average class size 2021/22: 17

Capped 2021/22: Yes (30)

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication