Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC3096: American Democracy and the Challenges of the 21st Century

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.

Module Aims

This module aims to equip you with the tools to analyze and evaluate American politics and the American political system. The module begins by focusing on the American Constitution, the debates and compromises that inform it, and the ways in which the Constitution remains highly relevant to any understanding of contemporary US politics. We then turn to other “foundations” of American politics, such as its political culture, before looking at the means by which public opinion is transmitted to elites—elections, pressure group lobbying, and so on—and then at the major federal institutions before finally turning to the public policy that results. You will have the opportunity to discuss and evaluate contending theoretical and empirical perspectives throughout the module and to bring theory and practice together to form their own perspectives. You will be encouraged to think critically about all of the key concepts that are explored in the module and about how they relate to wider questions and debates in Politics and International Relations (and also in history) about political culture, institutional design, and comparative politics. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. demonstrate detailed knowledge of the major theories of US Politics in the various subfields we examine in oral and written work;
2. evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and research in oral and written work;
3. apply a range of theories about US Politics to historical and contemporary issues in oral and written work;
Discipline-Specific Skills4. to expertly use key concepts pertaining to US Politics in oral and written work;
5. synthesize and critique a variety of theories and arguments in the field in your written work;
6. demonstrate a deep understanding of the implications of new evidence for a given theory in your oral and written work
7. demonstrate that you understand different methods of research in the field and their implications for findings in your oral and written work;
Personal and Key Skills8. work independently and in groups, including presentations for class discussion, and in spontaneous discussion and defence of arguments in class, and to manage conflict;
9. demonstrate oral and written analytical and organizational skills in essays, group presentations and group discussion; and
10. write essays to a deadline.