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Unit information: Political Systems of Modern Europe in 2015/16

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Unit name Political Systems of Modern Europe
Unit code MODL20008
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Allinson
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to the political systems of the major modern European states, and thereby also to key concepts of political science, the state and of constitutionalism. After tracing the emergence of modern constitutional systems in the 18th and 19th centuries, with particular reference also to the United States of America, the unit considers the current political systems of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain, and the ways in which political systems were organised in the USSR, the Third Reich, Franco' s Spain and Mussolini 's Italy. Consideration is also given to the ways in which matters such as human rights, sovereignty, federalism and electoral systems are and have been organised in these polities. This dual approach provides students with detailed knowledge of the political systems of individual states, but also enables a comparative approach to understanding modern political systems and principles.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  1. have advanced knowledge and understanding of theories and general principles of constitutionalism and the state;
  2. have advanced knowledge and understanding of the political systems of a number of the principal European states, and an understanding of their historical contexts;
  3. have further developed their skills of textual analysis;
  4. have developed their skills of research from primary sources and academic texts;
  5. have developed their skills of written presentation.

Teaching Information

Interactive lecture format

Assessment Information

One 2000 word essay (50%) and one two-hour exam (50%). (assessing ILO's 1-5)

Both forms of assessment will test subject knowledge of the field. Students will be required to developed detailed and extended analytical arguments based on independent research using a range of source materials.

Reading and References

The constitutions of the states to be studied in this unit will be made available in English translation on a Blackboard site, and will constitute the primary texts.

  1. Tim Bale, European politics. A comparative introduction
  2. S.E. Finer, Vernon Bogdanor and Bernard Rudden, Comparing Constitutions
  3. Jan-Erik Lane, Constitutions and political theory