Contemporary British Political Themes and Issues: 2016 to 2024

106,107 TUTOR: Max Stafford (PhD)


A revised version of a successful course! With a post-2016 focus, the course explores current themes and issues within the British political landscape. We begin by setting British politics within its current post-COVID context. The course then progresses onto constitutional change, modern leadership and whether our politics is capable of reform. Did Boris Johnson's premiership indicate a step-change in British politics and what does Liz Truss believe? Who will lead each party in the future? The course offers tutor-led lectures but with plenty of interaction and subsequent discussion. It is led by a current university tutor who has a background as a political aide.


Course Notes


Day 1:

 Introduction to course & exploration of the constitutional structure of British Politics. Questions to consider include: Where does power lie within our current system? Is the monarchy still relevant to British democracy? Are we living in an age of apathy?

 From Brexit to Partygate: The years between 2019 and 2022 saw British Politics encounter Brexit, a pandemic, and crises in Downing Street. This session explores these and asks whether we have learnt from them (or failed to do so).

Day 2:

Elections and Campaigns. Questions to include: Is First-Past-the-Post relevant to modern, multi-party, politics? How have the advent of social media and TV debates changed public engagement? What effect has "referendum politics” had?

Parties I: The Conservatives. Questions to include: Is Britain naturally Conservative? Are the Conservatives really just the "English National Party”? Why did the Conservatives fall back in 2017 but take "Red Wall” seats in 2019? Who will the next Conservative leader be?

Day 3:

 Parties II: Labour. Questions to include: Does the Labour Party have a prolonged identity crisis? Is there a route back to power for the party? Can Labour's "broad church” be kept together? Who will the next Labour leader be?

Parties III: The "Others”. Questions to include: Do we now have a multi-party system? Will Britain ever accept a more coalition-based politics?

Day 4:

Foreign Policy. Questions to include: Has Britain found a role post-Empire? Is the Special Relationship really special at all? What are the big upcoming challenges?

The Prime Minister and Government. Questions to include: Does personality now matter more than policy? Do we have a prime minister or a quasi-president?

Day 5:

London and Levelling Up. Questions to include: Are we too "London-centric”? Is the Northern Powerhouse really that important? Can we confront the North-South divide in British Politics?

Round-up and Final Questions. Questions to include: What are the greatest threats to Britain's democracy? What will be the great reforms of this parliament? Who might win the next election?

Student Equipment

Paper, notepad, pens etc for note-taking (or electronic equivalent)


Course Tutor

Max Stafford


About Max


Dr. Max Stafford is a university lecturer and former political adviser. He currently does research into the role, significance, and evolution of the Downing Street Chief-of-Staff and is writing a book on this topic. He has published on a range of themes related to political leadership, policy innovations and British Politics. He previously worked for former cabinet ministers.


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Summer School Dates for 2024

All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM