GV4L1      Half Unit
Analytical Approaches to British Politics

This information is for the 2022/23 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 MSc PSPE with the relevant training in quantitative methods and some game theory. It will also be available to students from other programmes with the relevant skill, space permitting.


The course is primarily for students on the MSc Political Science and Political Economy; 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 to students who have completed the first term of the PSPE programme, 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 theoretic modelling, rational choice narratives, 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.

There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

One formative 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


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Online assessment duration: 7 days in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half 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

  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills