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IP310 The Monarch: The Role of the Head of State in the British Political System (since 1952)

St Edward's Crown

Dr Martin Mik

Module Leader

Term 1
10 weeks

Principal Aims

  • To develop an understanding of political systems and the role of heads of state (whether elected or hereditary);
  • To understand key theories of political representation and representativeness;
  • To develop the ability to interpret, compare, analyse, and evaluate the role of heads of state;
  • To strengthen students' ability to develop policy proposals, having applied their knowledge, undertaken research to find out possible alternatives, examined their benefits and downsides, formulated (and justified) their proposed solutions;
  • To hone students' research and team-working skills.

Principal Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module student will have:

  • Examined and critically assessed arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data relating to the challenges and benefits of a hereditary head of state;
  • Acquired an understanding of theories and approaches to political representation and representativeness;
  • Demonstrated an understanding of the evolution of the role of heads of state in different political systems and the British political system in particular;
  • Demonstrated their ability to engage in an academic debate by identifying areas of enquiry, carry out research projects and present well researched and substantiated arguments;
  • Developed their ability to construct arguments based on a selected theory and defend their choice of theory;
  • Applied their skills to develop evidence-based responses/solutions to identified problems;
  • Demonstrated the ability to communicate complex and contentious ideas and problems clearly and succinctly.


1. Development of the role of the head of the state

2. Role of the head of state in the 21st Century

3. British Monarch and the Legislature

4. British Monarch and the Government

5. British Monarch and the Judiciary

6. British Monarch and Diplomacy (Commonwealth and beyond)

7. British Monarch and the Armed Forces

8. Defender of the Faith: British Monarch and the Faiths

9. British Monarch and the Country

10. Future for the British head of state

Indicative Bibliography

Bagehot, W. (2000 [1867]), The English Constitution. Kitchener, Ont.: Batoche.

Bentley, T., and J. Wilson (eds.), Monarchies - What are Kings and Queens for? London, Demos, 2002.

Assessment (2019-20)

Exam Oral examination (viva) (15%)

Presentation (20%)

Policy Brief (1,000 words) (25%)

Essay (3,000 words) (40%)