module specification

GI6061 - Modern British Politics (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Modern British Politics
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75%   Essay (2,500-3,000 words)
Seminar 25%   Seminar contribution
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module focuses on the principal developments in British politics since the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in 1979. In particular, students will evaluate the claim that there was a ‘Thatcher revolution’ during the 1980s and explore the impact of various economic, ideological and electoral factors shaping policy during this period. On this foundation, the module then explores the Major governments and the end of the Conservative ascendancy, the rise of ‘New Labour’ in the 1990s and the record and doctrinal position of the Blair party and governments since 1997, the impact of the Cameron coalition since 2010 and the transformative effects of the Brexit vote.

Module aims

This module seeks to enable level 6 students to:
  • develop a deeper knowledge of key events in British politics, policy and party competition since 1979
  • analyse and evaluate the various forces and factors shaping British politics and political development during these years
  • comment critically upon historical debates
  • enhance personal confidence and competence through the further development of the analytical, writing and communication skills acquired at levels 4 and 5



The structure of the module is broadly chronological but it explores the following themes:

‘The Thatcher Revolution’; economic decline and the multiple crises of consensus: the origins of Thatcherism; Thatcherite policy on the economy, welfare, industrial relations; Thatcherism, votes and electoral values; the fall of Thatcher; the Major governments; ‘Black Wednesday’ and the collapse of the Conservative ascendancy. Labour in decline 1979-84; the rise and fall of the SDP-Liberal Alliance; Neil Kinnock and Labour ‘modernisation’ 1983-92; Blair and the origins of New Labour; New Labour’s ideological heritage; the Labour Party and ‘Blairism’; the record of the Labour governments since 1997; the Brown premiership, the economic crisis and the defeat of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats since 1997, David Cameron and the Conservative / Liberal coalition after 2010: Brexit and British politics.

Learning and teaching

Teaching consists of a weekly lecture followed by a hour tutorial. Lectures will involve a combination of taught lectures, videos, skills workshops, and the use of primary and secondary documents and websites. During the module seminars will combine a variety of methods including discussion based on pre-set questions and role plays. Blended Learning will be a key component of the module, building on existing face-to-face contact time via a virtual environment, and offering additional resources for students to develop further their subject knowledge and skills. Lecture notes and primary and secondary documents for use in class will be posted on line, as will web links for academic and governmental websites, as well as video links.

Materials for use in class will be posted at least one week in advance on line to allow students to reflect on the subject and prepare. Questions for class discussion will be available from the beginning of the module via the Module Booklet available on weblearn, which will include a list of resources students can use to answer the questions and study the subject in greater depth.

Learning outcomes

Upon the successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the major developments in British politics, policy and party competition since 1979;
  • analyse and evaluate evidence from a variety of sources concerning the various forces and factors which shaped British party competition and policy during this period;
  • think in broad conceptual terms about the nature and validity of the notion of a ‘Thatcher Revolution’ and to evaluate critically the debate about the ideological sources and origins of ‘New Labour’ doctrine and policy; grasp the nature and implications of Brexit for British politics.
  • refine their communication skills by advancing, explaining and defending their analysis in general contributions to class discussion throughout the unit;
  • prepare effective written answers to specific questions;
  • produce written work that conforms with appropriate standards of prose, presentation, analysis and documentation.


Assessment strategy

One formative piece of work is required for this module: this will involve the production of an essay plan by week 9. This plan will be discussed with the module tutor and other students.

The summative assessment involves the submission of the final essay of 2,500. This is due in week 15. Essay titles will be chosen from a list selected by the tutor.

The second component of summative assessment will take the form of seminar assessment. There are two aspects to this assessment. Students will be required to deliver a short presentation to their seminar group, drawing from a list of topics provided by their tutor. Secondly, students will be graded for their general participation in and contribution to seminar discussion over the course of module


Bale, T. (2007) The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, Polity Press
Beech, M. &Lee, S. (2011) The Cameron-Clegg Government, Palgrave
Dorey, P. (ed)(1999) The Major Premiership, Macmillan
Heffernan, R. et al, (2011) Developments in British Politics 9, Palgrave
Kavanagh, D. &Cowley, P. (2010) The British General Election of 2010, Palgrave
Lee, S. (2009) Boom and Bust: The Politics and Legacy of Gordon Brown, One World
Seldon, A. &Collings, D. (1999) Britain Under Thatcher, Longman
Seldon, A. (ed), The Blair Effect: The Blair Government 1997-2001 (Little, Brown, 2001)
Seldon, A.  &Lodge, D. (2010) Brown at 10, Biteback
Seldon, A. &Kavanagh, D. (eds) (2005)The Blair Effect: The Blair Government 2001-2005, Cambridge University Press
Vinen, R. (2009) Thatcher’s Britain, Simon & Schuster.
R. Ford and M. Godwin, Revolt on the Right: Explaining support for the Radical Right in Britain, Routledge, 2014