Birkbeck offers a range of modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level that deal with the study of British politics.


Undergraduate Modules

Contemporary British Politics: A core module on the BA Politics that provides students with an understanding of British politics and government, its key actors and institutions, and the main issues of controversy and contestation.

Parliamentary Studies: An optional module on the BA Politics that offers students a unique opportunity to understand how parliaments work by learning from parliamentary officials themselves.

British and comparative foreign policy analysis: An option module on the BA Global Politics and International Relations that provides students with an understanding of the analysis and practicalities of foreign policy formulation in the UK and other states.

Postgraduate Modules

Modern British Politics: A core module on the MSc Government, Politics and Policy that examines cutting edge debates about the government and politics of Britain.

Public Policy: Interests, Ideas and Institutions: A core module on the MSc Government, Politics and Policy and MSc Public Policy and Management that applies key paradigms in the study of public policy to classic and contemporary policy issues in the UK and beyond.

Public Management: Theories and Innovations: A core module on the MSc Government, Politics and Policy and MSc Public Policy and Management that explores changes to the machinery of British government.

PhD studies

Birkbeck’s Department of Politics has a track record of successfully supervising PhD students working in the field of British politics.

For further details about Birkbeck’s PhD programme, please see here.

Recent Posts

Making a Good Parliament: Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow Visits Birkbeck

by Dr Ben Worthy

Rt Hon John Bercow MP

How can Parliament be reformed? The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, took time out from imposing order on MPs to tell a packed audience of Birkbeck students how he intends to do it. Since his election in 2009, the Speaker has made his name as someone who wants to make Parliament a different place  and the Commons is undoubtedly different as a result. When Bercow became Speaker, Parliament famously had a shooting gallery but no creche. In his speech he pointed to some of his successes, including allowing children through the voting lobby. However, as he said, more needs to be done.

Drawing on, or in his words, ‘shamelessly plagiarising’, the Good Parliament report by Birkbeck’s own Professor Sarah Childs, the Speaker spoke of the principles around which any future change needs to be built. Change is not just about tinkering with the rules of an institution but about transforming the culture inside to make sure reforms really happen. Any reforms need to be made along several dimensions at once, a mixture of ensuring equal participation, altering the infrastructure and changing the culture.

Listen to a recording of the event on SoundCloud

Although passion and even anger can be normal parts of political discourse, he emphasised the need for MPs to be treated with respect. He also pointed out the importance of making Parliament a more diverse place, a vital democratic principle in itself when, for example, women make up 32% of the MPs in the Commons but 52% of the population – it’s good, but not good enough considering the average voter is likely to be a woman. Opening up Parliament, he pointed out, is also a way of broadening the views, ideas and experience coming into the House of Commons, and he highlighted the work of Tan Dhesi, the first turbaned Sikh in the House of Commons .

The Speaker ended by making the point that change was also about the culture around politics and how it was reported. Prime Minister’s Questions, while a vital public event, sometimes gives the public the wrong impression of the work of the House and the atmosphere inside. He pointed to his commitment to make the lobby who report on Parliament at least 40% female by 2020.

So, as one audience member asked, will it work? The Speaker argued that without cultural change, no other reforms will really ‘stick’, as ‘culture eats strategy’. But he felt that at a time of unhappiness with elites, and a desire for making things different, the House of Commons was readier for change than it had been.

More information:

  1. Votes for Women… and Seats, and Parliaments, and Politics for Women
  2. Our Plans for 2018
  3. Question Time for Mr Speaker
  4. Rafael Behr: Life in the Lobby at Westminster
  5. Authenticity in Politics
  6. Desperately Seeking an Elderly Gentleman with a Large Majority … to Persuade Parliament to Allow MPs to Job-Share
  7. Let’s put the champagne on ice: the Commons’ missing women
  8. General Election 2017: Pre-Election Predictions
  9. Can Progressive Parties Work Together?