PO3PUK-Politics in the United Kingdom since 1945

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
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 module aims to provide students with an understanding of the key developments in recent British political history and to enable students to analyse and evaluate the responses made by British politicians to the political, economic and social problems which governments have faced in the period primarily since 1945. The module begins by examining the 'consensus' which is said to have prevailed in British politics from the 1940s and then considers the attempts of successive Conservative and Labour governments to respond to the economic, social and political challenges of the 1960s. The years of crisis and failure in the 1970s are examined before the module moves on to consider the emergence of Thatcherism, the achievements of John Major, the record of the 'New Labour' government and the ‘rarity’ of the Coalition government. The module then examines a number of policy themes including Britain's approach to the EU, the impact of the 'special relationship' with the US, strategies to deal with British economic decline, the role of trade unions and recent constitutional reform before assessing the current state of UK politics using the lens of recent history. This module makes frequent use of documentaries in seminars as well as declassified government files.


Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • identify the key political events in the period since 1960, the opportunities and challenges they presented to British politicians and the varying ways in which they responded to them;

  • locate, assemble and analyse information on the subject by their own research, using a variety of sources;

  • appraise and assess critically competing interpretations of the ways in which British politicians and parties responded to the challenges they faced;

  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively;

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and student effectiveness in group situations.

Outline content:

Term 1 provides a chronological assessment of UK politics, starting from the post war consensus and working through to the 2017 Election. 

Term 2 revisits the politics of the period through a series of thematic lenses, covering key aspects such as managing the economy, relations with Europe and America, and constitutional reform.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught via thirteen two-hour seminars requiring preparatory reading and research. Students will be required to participate in structured group discussion and give oral assessed presentations. A revision session will be held in the summer term.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16 10 2
Guided independent study 80 80 12
Total hours by term 96.00 90.00 14.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 40
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One three hour examination 50%

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write one 4,000 word essay (+/-10%) during the course of the two terms from a list of selected topics. Non-submitted essays will be awarded a mark of zero. This essay will be worth 40% of the overall module mark. Students will also give one presentation on one seminar topic which will form the basis of class discussion. Presentations will be 15 minutes in length and count for 10% of the overall module mark of which 75% will be based on content, including visual aids, and 25% will be based on the oral presentation itself. Visiting students will follow the same assessments but only those enrolled for the summer term will sit the examination. Those visiting students who are here for the Autumn term only but wish to gain full credits will also write a 4,000  word essay in place of the examination, to be submitted by the first day of the summer term. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in the Autumn term will submit one 4,000 word essay in total. 

Formative assessment methods:

All students are expected to contribute extensively to class debate.

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:

    University wide rules apply.

    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.

    Examination: Re-examination takes place in August/September of the same year.


    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):



    Required text books

    There are no set texts for this course and much of the reading list is available electronically.  However, if a student wishes to invest in recommended texts, key titles would be K. Morgan 'Britain since 1945' (RRP £16.99) and Peter Dorey 'British Politics since 1945' (RRP £31.95).


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    Last updated: 26 April 2018


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