PO3PAR-Parliamentary Studies

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: 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:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Shanahan

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

Type of module:

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 and members 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, and how Parliament fits within the wider UK political system. 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 and how Parliament fits within the wider UK political system;

• 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 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 module will introduce students to Parliament’s history and current function.  Working with parliamentary officials and Members, we will explore and assess the key elements of the institution including:

  • how legislation is made;

  • the relationship between Parliament and Government;

  • the House of Lords;

  • Select Committees;

  • devolved powers;

  • the role of the media.

The module also includes two fully funded trips to a devolved Parliament and to Westminster.

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 20 12
External visits 8 8
Guided independent study 102 50
Total hours by term 130.00 70.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 25
Report 50
Oral assessment and presentation 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:
There is no examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will prepare and deliver a research based presentation on a subject agreed with the module convenor by Week 3 in the autumn term, to be delivered in Week 9.  This part of the coursework provides 25% of the module mark.  Over Christmas students will write a 2,000 word reflective essay on their research and presentation, also worth 25% of the overall module score.

Students will write either a report 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, or an evidence submission for a Select Committee Inquiry. Suitable Inquiries will be identified before the end of the Autumn Term by the Module Convenor.  The briefing paper will count for 50% of the overall module mark. 

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment 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: 20 April 2018


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