Week, Author, Reading and
Topic (give priority to bold readings)
Norton, 1: Contemporary Landscape [Lecture] [PPT]
Week2How have the British economy and polity developed over 300 years?A look at the political culture, and its modern evolution
What have been the impacts of democratization, industrialization and the welfare state?
How has Britain been affected by evolutionary rather than revolutionary change?
How does a constitutional monarchy work?
What does parliamentary sovereignty mean?
Is Britain more a participant or a deferential society?
What are the basic elements of British geography, society and culture?
What caused Britain's postwar, relative economic decline?
Social class: has it eroded?The classic sketch on the three social classes (John Cleese and the Two Ronnies), about 1971, 2'30" [Sound track very quiet]
Updated sketch for 2000's New Labour Man, with Stephen Fry, 3'
Norton, 2: Political Culture [Lecture] [PPT]Week 3How can we analyze the British political culture?Readings on British Politics After 2010 [Reporters]
What elements are there in the British political culture?
Is the allegiant political culture in decline, and what is replacing it?How would coalition government affect Britain after the 2010 election?More recent changes in culture: will high tech confuse the old?
Was a hung Parliament a real possibility?
How long had it been since a coalition had ruled the UK?My Blackberry Is Not Working! (greengrocer's shop meets technology) - The One Ronnie, BBC, 2'
Norton 3: Past & Present [notes needed] [Lecture]Week 4How did parliamentary government emerge?Jeremy Lewis: Battle of the Falklands /Malvinas | Lecture | Maps | [PPT, introduction] [PPT, air-sea and land battles]
How did the welfare state develop along with the managed economy?
How did the politics of Thatcher and Blair break with the postwar consensus?
Has the British economy suffered long term decline?
What are the economic, social and structural explanations for British economic change?What was the longterm historical relationship of the islands to the British, Argentine and other governments?
Did either the British or the Argentine governments have any legal claim to the islands?
What diplomatic, economic and political failures caused the battle to happen?
Should the battle even have been fought?
Why did the naval war unfold as it did?
What factors affected the air-sea phase of the battle?
What factors affected the land battle?
What might have caused the outcome to be reversed?
Which of these was most significant: strategy, technology or expertise?
What were the effects of: missiles? the emphasis on special forces? submarines? innovation?What happens when an old colonial commitment is challenged?
How should force be balanced with mission and diplomacy with strategy?
Norton 4: Uncodified Constitution [Lecture] [PPT]Week 5Lecture on British and US Constitution, for US Constitution Day [PPT]GoogOlympics: readings on Gdrive about Brexit's ramifications for UK institutions
What is a constitution?
What are the sources of the British constitution, and where is it written down?
How can the UK constitution be amended?
Who interprets the UK constitution?
How are the powers separated in UK?
How does the rule of law square with parliamentary sovereignty?
How does membership of the EU fit with common law and the UK constitution?
What are the effects of a flexible constitution?
How many US constitutional principles emerged from UK traditions?
Can we say the US and UK have two constitutions divided by a shared tradition?
[Harding, Berry, Pearson, Ohliger, TItus, Vise, Compton, Carson, Hunnicut]
Norton 5: Electoral System: Fair and Workable? [Lecture] [FPTP example]Week 6How does one become a candidate in British elections?Readings on Elections and Voting [Reporter]
How do voters cast their votes?
How are votes counted?
What influences voting?
Is the system of counting votes fair -- or is it dysfunctional?
What are the results of this type of electoral system?
Should the electoral system be reformed?
See Dates page for Test 1, short answer and essay questions on all the above.
Norton 6: Political Parties: More or Less Than a Two Party System? [Lecture, PPT] [Time graph]Week 7How did the British party system develop?GoogOlympics: readings on Political Parties [Reporters]
What are the different parties in Britain?
What elements are there to each party?
What are the differences in ideas and structure of the two major parties?
What has been the role of minor parties in the UK?
Are British political parties in decline?
Has there been a structural dealignment of British parties?General questionsBritish election system, PPT
Was the fragmentation of the two-party system a new phenomenon?
Was the 2010 election a victory for the Liberal Democrats?
Among the nationalists and the Greens, which parties are growing most?
In Scotland, did multiple minor (or "flash") parties in the 2000s indicate fragmentation of the electorate -- or a realignment to the SNP?
Why is a practical majority of the Commons 323 seats, not 326?
Why would a minimal winning coalition be more desired than a grand coalition?
What is the difference between a "Triple Lock" in the Lib. Dems and "monarchy with regicide" among the Conservatives?
How did the Alternative Vote system produce fratricide in a Labour leader?
How did student tuition fees damage the Lib. Dems?
Should Labour expect voters to drop after the last opinion polls?How does the UK election system work, and how big a vote margin would it take for the Conservatives to "win"?When feasible: Test 1 returned, with exemplary written answers presented
Which regions favor each party?
Which recent election was the fairest? Should seats be proportionate to votes at all?
What chance was there of a hung Parliament -- and would it cause a crisis?
GoogOlympics: investigate the multi-party system via parties' sites:
Cons | Lab | Lib Dems | Plaid | Scot Nats | UKIP | BNP | Greens
Norton 7: Interest Groups: Insiders or Outsiders? [Lecture, PPT]Week 8What are the functions of interest groups?GoogOlympics: readings on Interest groups and pressure politics [Reporters]
How do British interest groups differ from US groups?
What types of interest groups are there in Britain?
How can we analyze group behavior, and what causes groups to behave in certain ways?
Is Britain a corporatist country?
What is the process of lobbying?
Where do British interest groups lobby most heavily?
The deferential culture in UK: challenges from Freedom of Information and mass leaks worldwide
"Heather Brooke, "My Battle to Expose Government Corruption," TED talk, 18' [Reporter]When, in using the FOIA, Heather Brooke revealed expenses corruption in Parliament in 2009, did she undercut deference and trust in British political culture?Julian Assange, "Why the world needs WikiLeaks," Ted talk, 2010, 19' [Reporter]
How widespread was this corruption?
Has there been a digital enlightenment that makes this an international trend?
Are mass leaks and WikiLeaks part of this? What are the consequences, for those in power, and for the sources?
Should there be punishment for officials who conceal documents, or fail to release them?What was the result in Kenya of leaks on corruption?
What was the effect of leaking the video of the gunship airstrike in Baghdad?
Does mass publication of secret official documents overturn the relations between rulers and ruled?
Norton 8: Executive: Government at the Center [Lecture & class notes, table of PM power & constraints] PPTWeek 9How does the executive figure in the policy process?GoogOlympics: readings from Gdrive on executive governance [Reporters]
Does Britain now have cabinet or prime ministerial government?
Where is the power of the prime minister laid down in law or a constitutional authority?
Does the power of the PM depend on the patronage function?
What types of PM have been found?
What is the practical role of the cabinet?
How did the cabinet develop?
What law or constitutional authority lays down the functions of the cabinet?
Examples of executive leadership in Britain and contrasts with the USA. [Reporters]
British links for Churchill - or Audio CD: Winston Churchill, Wartime Speeches to the House of CommonsWhat difficulties did Churchill face in wartime and how did he treat them in public speeches?UK government, "Cabinet Secretaries talk about their time in office" (interviews with Lord Hennessy and Dr. Anthony Seldon, historians) in Cabinet Confidential series by Mile End Group, documentary videos on 10 Downing Street YouTube channel, May 2013. Example: Lord Wilson, interviewed.
To what degree did Churchill prepare the public for wartime suffering and sacrifices?
How does Churchill's leadership stand the test of time?
Jeremy Paxman of BBC Newsnight interviews Ann Coulter (YouTube, 2006, 7'), an iconoclastic American Lawyer. (This version includes the introduction; higher res. versions available but without the first minute.)How fair is his introduction and his prompts?
How coherent and well supported are her answers?
Lecture on Welsh society and devolution [PPT]Week 10
Lecture on Scottish society and devolution [PPT]
Lecture on Northern Ireland [PPT]
Norton 10: New Assemblies: Government Beyond The Center [Lecture] [PPT]What was the effect of establishing regional assemblies?Norton 11: Local Government: Below the Center [Lecture] [PPT]
What have been the difficulties of re-establishing home rule in Northern Ireland?How were the early units of local government in the UK established?GoogOlympics: readings from Gdrive on devolution [Reporters]
What statutes have reformed local government in the British unitary system?
How influential are the political parties in local government?
What is the scale of local government staff?
From where do local governments derive their income?
Supplementary course materials: British
See Dates page for the AlaPSA conference (Friday afternoon & Saturday morning).
GoogOlympics: The Oxford and Cambridge "Blues" boat races, (oldest collegiate sporting event, raced on the flood tide and sometimes in heavy wind, upstream on the Thames from West London):
Videos, women 2016, highlights, 2' | Women, entire, 29' | men 2016, entire, 25'
Norton 9: European Community: Above the Center [Lecture, PPT]Week 11How has the EU affected British politics?GoogOlympics: readings from Gdrive on UK's place in the EU [Reporters]
When did the EEC become the EU, and what was the significance of this move?
What are the three pillars of the EU?
What happened to Britain's first application to the EEC?
What did Britain chose to do about joining the common currency?
What should British courts do when faced with EU laws?
How has the EU affected British trade?
What is the Euro and how well did the new system work?
What are the main institutions of the EU and how do they work?
How does EU democracy work -- and how different is it from the British version?
To what degree do British people uphold the EU?
See Dates page for Test 2, which may include questions on all since Test 1.
Research Design workshop: bring your research design to class. Explain the nature of the problem or issue to be explored; the approach you will take to investigating it and the nature of your coverage (periods, states, institutions, elections, parties, countries, presidencies); and what differences, causes or consequences you expect to find. Provide a list of the main sources you find useful.See Dates page for Spring Break
Research Design: Simple Template PPT [Reporter]
Norton 12: Parliament: Commons and Lords [Lecture, PPT]
How are the members of the Commons and Lords elected or appointed?GoogOlympics: readings from Gdrive on the changing parliament [Reporters]
What are the terms of office?
Who are the members of the Commons?
What is the role of the Speaker?
How large is the parliamentary staff?
How generous are the salary and perks of office?
Which tasks of an MP are more important?
In what ways can MPs influence policy?
How are the committees organized and what types are there?
What types of debate are held in parliament?
How does the House of Lords differ from the Commons?
Who are the members of the Lords?
How should the Lords be reformed?
Lecture, House of Commons Question Time: the seating, the conventions and the struggle
C-SPAN videos: House of Commons Question Time and debates: Thatcher, Feb. 1990
Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons (PQMT) examples
When feasible: Test 2 returned, with exemplary written answers presented
Norton 13: Monarchy: Above the Fray? [Reporters] Monarchy lecture notesWeek 13How did the constitutional monarchy develop?GoogOlympics: readings from Gdrive on Monarchy [Reporters]
In what sense does the monarch still play a political role?
How is the monarch constrained by the constitution?
How did the separation of powers develop?
What is the role of the monarch in the established church?
How did the abdication crisis affect the monarchy?
What role does the extended royal family play, and at what cost?
What criticisms have been leveled at the monarchy?
Will the monarchy survive into the next generation?
Curtis (ed) v1: James I, On The Divine right of Kings [Reporter]On what does James I base the royal prerogative of ruling?See Dates page and Requirements page for research project
What are the duties of the monarch as seen by James I?
What should be the relationship of monarch to subjects?
Briefings workshop: develop an Illustrated briefing of your research project, framing the problem or issue; explaining its importance; explaining how you approached it; surveying the arguments in the literature; summarizing each section of your material; and giving your findings; followed by main sources.Week 14
Briefings calendar | Advice | Optional, simple template for slides: [PPTX] [PPT]
Examples from past seniors' capstone presentations (see especially Rainey, McCollum and Pierce PPTs)
Norton 14: Enforcement: Courts & Police [Lecture, PPT]How does the UK justice system work, and how does it differ from the US?GoogOlympics: readings from Gdrive on policy topics:
What changes have been forced by the EU in the British justice system?
Security and terrorism issues [Reporters] [Lecture]How has Britain responded to the second wave of terrorism, post 9/11?Economic issues [Reporter]
How does the British economy rank in the world? (See IMF, World Bank, Europa.eu, Economist).
How would Brexit affect the British economy?
Illustrated briefings by students of their research projects, followed by interrogation and critical thinking discussion
[ Lecture on Civil Liberties]
Illustrated briefings by students of their research projects, followed by interrogation and critical thinking discussionSee Dates page for Comprehensive Exam for this class.
Norton 15: Communication & Feedback: Mass Media [ table of media, PPT]
Readings on the changing news media environment" [Reporters] [Lecture]What are the characteristics of the British mass media?
How do the media relate to the State?
How has the State adapted to the age of public relations?
GoogOlympics: comedy about the media and politics.
Yes, Prime Minister: the Party Political Broadcast episode.
Monty Python, the Choreographed Party Political Broadcast sketch, 1973 (YouTube, 4')
Monty Python, Romans Go Home, sketch, from Life of Brian film, ca. 1973 (YouTube, 3')
Monty Python, What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?, sketch, from Life of Brian film, ca. 1973 (YouTube, 2')
Monty Python, Constitutional Peasants - Monty Python and the Holy Grail film, ca. 1973 (YouTube, 2')
Sky News, Special Report: The Queen at 90, (YouTube, 43') Youthful declaration of service at 12'30".
Norton 16: Future Directions: The Polity Under Challenge (new version for this edition) [Lecture]How is UK government changing, and what traditional strengths are being retained?GoogOlympics: readings on Britain in the World [Reporter] [Lecture on Britain After Blair]
[Lecture on Future of Westminster model]What will British politics look like in the generation after Blair?
Is the Westminster model still influential -- and does actual British politics resemble the model?
Is British politics actually distinctive -- or has it converged on the modern politics of other states?