Department of Political Science


POLS0034 British Parliamentary Studies

Course Code: POLS0034

Course Tutor: Professor Meg Russell (Department of Political Science)

Length: One Term (Spring Term)

Teaching: 20 contact hours

Assessment: One 1000 word project summary (50%) and one 2000 word essay (50%)

Credits: 15 credits/4 US Credits/7.5 ECTS Credits

Module Level: L6 (Advanced)

parliament, Westminster, representation, legislation, scrutiny

About this course

This course introduces students to the working of the British parliament (both House of Commons and House of Lords). Uniquely it is jointly delivered with the parliamentary authorities, and part taught in parliament itself. As well as academic study of various aspects of parliamentary processes, it involves contact with practitioners, and an introduction to parliamentary research through a joint research project. It has some vocational content (what is it like to work in parliament, or to research parliament) as well as answering academic questions – how does parliament work, what are its political dynamics, to what extent and how does it influence the policy process, and how might it be reformed. The course combines formal, procedural knowledge with more political analysis of the role of political parties, and other actors/groups, and is strongly research-led. It is delivered by one of the leading academic experts on the UK parliament.

Course aims

To introduce students to the workings of the British parliament, and its political dynamics – from both an academic and a practitioner perspective. To give students a sound understanding of the role of parliament in British politics, and of the role of parliaments more broadly. To build students’ vocational skills and make them aware of career options in parliamentary politics – by introducing various roles working in and with parliament, and introducing them to parliamentary research. To develop students’ critical skills and independent research ability through a joint project.


Students taking this module are expected to have some grounding in politics, ideally including basics of British politics and/or familiarity with other legislative institutions (e.g. US Congress). Although no specific modules serve as prerequisites, students who have not studied politics modules in the earlier years of their degree will be admitted only at the discretion of the course tutor.

Please note that POLS0034 is an advanced Political Science module. Its delivery is based on the assumption that you are familiar with facts and ideas relevant to British politics. If this is not the case, you may find additional background reading necessary to appropriately engage with the course material, and in particular a good-quality recent textbook in British politics may prove useful.

The following text is core to the course:

Norton, P. (2013). Parliament in British Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

You may also want to look at the POLS0034 reading list from last year (accessible via the UCL Library) to get an idea of other readings and topics covered in the module.