Undergraduate Modules

Consensus, Crisis and Coalition: Introduction to British Politics

In this course I look at the course of British politics since the end of the Second World War through to day focusing each week on a particular prime minister and their legacy. What I try to show is how many of the problems faced by politicians today have been confronted by generations of politicians past. I am interested in what has changed in British politics and what has not changed and how decisions which were taken in the past have shaped the choices faced by British leaders today. I look at the way in which a consensus was created in British politics during the 1950s and 1960s and at how that consensus was challenged by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. In the tutorials I look at whether there is a now a new consensus in British politics and how the major political parties are struggling to adapt to changes in the electorate, the economy and society.

Topics covered on this module

  1. Leadership in British politics – structure and agency, luck and power 
  2. Planning Britain’s future – Attlee and the post-war consensus
  3. Churchill and Eden – losing an empire… finding a role?
  4. Macmillan and the age of affluenza – had Britain never had it so good?
  5. Overloaded and ungovernable – Wilson and the trade unions
  6. A question of national sovereignty – Heath’s march towards Europe
  7. Hung parliaments and vanishing majorities – Wilson and the demise of two-party politics
  8. From boom… to bust? – Callaghan and death of the post-war consensus
  9. The paradoxical lady – Thatcher’s free economy and the strong state
  10. A Major loss of power – crisis, Black Wednesday and the erosion of sovereignty
  11. Out with the old, in with the New – Blair and the rise of New Labour 

First Year | Spring Semester

Module Code: POL115

Teaching Methods:

  • 11 1-hour lectures
  • 11 1-hour seminars


  • 1 Essay (50%)
  • 1 Exam (50%)