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Politics of the USA

Programme overview

This module gives you the opportunity to consider questions about US politics with academic rigour. You will draw on the work of a wide range of renowned scholars, consider the historical, cultural and societal contexts within which developments are taking place, and also analyse primary documents such as political speeches, congressional hearing transcripts and US government webpages.

The module provides a comprehensive introduction to the political system of the United States of America and to the rival theoretical accounts explaining the political outcomes this system generates.

In the first term, it focuses on the ideas that influence US politics, and the key actors that participate in the American political system, including the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, political parties, and the electorate.

It also, in term two, assesses the power and influence of informal actors such as the media and interest groups, as well as considering the impact of race, ethnicity, gender and religion on political participation and representation.

Finally, while the main focus is on US domestic politics, the module explores the formulation of foreign policy.

Programme content

Learning objectives:

  • to be familiar with the main foundations of the US political structure; to understand the format, functions and powers of the major institutions of US government at the federal level;
  • to have an awareness of the major policy debates in contemporary US politics;
  • to be familiar with a wide range of contemporary academic literature on US government and politics;
  • to be able to critically analyse complex ideas, both orally and in writing with relation to contemporary US politics;
  • to develop IT and research skills through the use of the Library, internet and e-mail based resources.

Module Director:

Trevor McCrisken