UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0044: American Political Development: Politics and Institutions, 1900-present

***NOT RUNNING IN 2023/24***

Module convenor: Dr Nadia Hilliard

This module provides students with an advanced understanding of the institutions, politics, and history of the United States through the framework of American Political Development (APD). Students will engage with the multidisciplinary scholarly literature on APD, and evaluate that literature through seminar discussion and a final essay. Students will gain familiarity with the diverse methods (qualitative and quantitative) used by this wide-ranging literature, and use the conceptual tools of historical institutionalism and APD to assess the domestic politics and history of the United States. In this module, we focus on the institutional arrangements of Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court; the operation of the federal bureaucracy; the party system; the welfare state; and state and local politics. The module provides the theoretical and empirical foundations for independent research in US politics.

Introductory Reading

  • Abramowitz, Alan I. 2011. The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Balogh, Brian. 2015. The Associational State: American Governance in the Twentieth Century. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Frymer, Paul. 2007. Black and Blue: African Americans, The Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Hacker, Jacob. 2002. The Divided Welfare State: The Battle Over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Johnson, Kimberly. 2007. Governing The American State: Congress and the New Federalism, 1877-1929 Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Mettler, Suzanne. 1998. Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 
  • Schickler, Eric. 2001. Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Skowronek, Stephen & Karen Orren. 2004. The Search for American Political Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Skowronek, Stephen. 1997. The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
  • Whittington, Keith E.  2007. Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History. Princeton University Press.

Assessment mode

A 4000-word essay