POLS6004 Britain's Constitutional Revolution
Course Code: POLS6004
Course Tutor: Professor Robert Hazell (Department of Political Science)
Length: One term
Teaching: 20 hours lectures/seminars
Assessment: Two 2,000 word essays (40/60%)
Credits: 0.5 course units, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS)
About this course
In a quiet revolution the British constitution, the oldest and greatest "unwritten" constitution, has been transformed over the last 10 years. The scale and pace of reform has been extraordinary, and constitutional reform will be seen as the Labour government's greatest single achievement. The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government is planning equally dramatic changes. Professor Robert Hazell has been centrally involved in these developments, as an adviser to government, Parliament and the political parties. Taking the course is like having a ringside seat at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, as Prof Hazell takes students through the dramatic developments of the last 10 years, and draws out underlying principles of constitutional design. By engaging with the redesign of the British constitution, foreign students come to look on their own constitutions in a different way.
By the end of the course students should be able to:
- Understand the difference between codified and "unwritten" constitutions, and between parliamentary and presidential systems;
- Understand the principles and conventions of the British constitution, including parliamentary and popular sovereignty, the role of the Crown, separation of powers and the rule of law;
- Assess how much the British constitution has been transformed, with devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Human Rights Act, reform of the House of Lords, referendums and new voting systems.
A series of lectures explains the principles of the British constitution, its strengths and weaknesses, its organic nature, and the extraordinary changes of the last 10 years. In the accompanying seminars Prof Hazell facilitates student presentations, debates and small group discussions. Visits are organised to the Houses of Parliament and the new Supreme Court.