PO3PAR-Parliamentary Studies

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn and Spring (Double presentation)
Pre-requisites: PO2BGP British Government and Politics or PO2CGP Comparative Government and Politics
Non-modular pre-requisites: Part 3 students must have successfully completed the second year module PO2BGP-British Government and Politics or PO2CGP-Comparative Government and Politics.Please note that the number of students able to enrol on this module is capped. In the event of oversubscription Part 3 students with the highest average mark across Part 2 modules will be accepted. All students will be notified whether they have been enrolled in the module after Part 2 results have been published in early July.
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Shanahan

Email: m.j.shanahan@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This highly innovative module is offered in partnership with the Houses of Parliament and is co-taught by parliamentary staff alongside staff from the Department of Politics. This module provides students with an understanding of the working of Parliament both in theory and in practice.

Students will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the functions and workings of the UK Parliament, how Parliament fits within the wider UK political system, and how the UK Parliament compares to legislatures in other democracies. This understanding will be based on real-world engagement with Parliament and parliamentarians as well as the insights of scholarly research. Students will also develop practical skills in interpreting current parliamentary activity in light of existing scholarly literature relevant to Parliament.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will:
• understand the functions and workings of the UK Parliament, how Parliament fits within the wider UK political system, and how the UK Parliament compares to legislatures in other democracies;
• understand and engage with debates about the efficacy of Parliament, how Parliament has evolved over time, and how Parliament might be reformed in the future to improve that efficacy;
• understand in detail the activities during the term in which the module is primarily taught of one particular part of Parliament and interpret how this relates to the roles of that part of Parliament and of Parliament as a whole.

Additional outcomes:
Students’ understanding of and engagement with British politics and democratic politics more generally will be enhanced through direct experience – both through a trip to Parliament and through participation in seminars with a range of parliamentarians and parliamentary officials.

Outline content:
The content here is indicative and may vary in its timing and delivery

Term 1
Week 1 – Business meeting
Week 2 – Developing the UK Parliamentary system
Week 3 – The structure of Parliament – fitting it all together
Week 4 – The Legislative Process
Week 5 – Stewarding the country – the Executive/Parliamentary relationship
Week 6 – The development and role of Select Committees
Week 7 – The role and reform of the House of Lords
Week 8 – Process in action – a visit to Westminster

Term 2
Week 1 – Parliament and Europe
Week 2 – Working with devolved powers – GLA/Welsh Assembly visit
Week 3 – The form, function and future of MPs
Week 4 – Parliament and the Media
Week 5 – The case for change: reforming Parliament

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Key topics are considered via a combination of lectures and small group seminars within two-hour weekly teaching sessions. Each session will begin with an interactive lecture. This will be followed by small-group discussion, presentations focused on specific questions and role play relating to assessed project work. Each session requires preparatory reading. Students will also be expected to attend four ‘Policy in Practice’ departmental seminars across both Autumn and Spring terms. In addition, this module includes a fully funded trip to Parliament.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 15 10
Practicals classes and workshops 3 3
External visits 8
Guided independent study 99 62
Total hours by term 125.00 75.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Report 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one report of 3,000 words (+/- 10%) evaluating the work over the duration of the module of a particular part of Parliament such as a committee or a specific office. Students will provide regular updates within seminars before writing a report outlining the purpose, activities and achievements of their object of study over the 11-week period. Non-submitted essays will be awarded a mark of zero. The mark for this part of the coursework is 50% of the module mark.

Students will write a briefing paper of 3,000 words (+/- 10%) on one aspect of Parliament: how this has developed over time, how it is judged to be working today, what arguments there are for and against reform and what evidence there is allowing us to evaluate those arguments. The briefing paper will count for 50% of the overall module mark.

Formative assessment methods:
Student will be expected to deliver regular updates on the focus of their report in the final part of weekly teaching sessions. Students are welcome to discuss reports and briefing papers with the module convenor during his feedback and consultation hours.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    There is no examination

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Candidates who fail their final year normally have the right to be re-examined on one further occasion at the next opportunity. These candidates will not normally be eligible for Honours (ie., only a ‘Pass’ classification would be attainable). Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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