Power in British Politics: The Role of the Prime Minister

This module explores British politics by focusing on the role of its central figure – the Prime Minister. Judging by media coverage, it would seem that the Prime Minister dominates the decision-making process, dwarfing other institutions such as the Cabinet, Parliament and the judiciary. But does this impression reflect reality? Does Britain really have a system of ‘Prime Ministerial’ – or, as some commentators have claimed – even ‘Presidential’ government? The module attempts to answer these crucial questions through case-studies of recent Prime Ministers and an examination of the sources of Prime Ministerial power, such as the ability to appoint ministers, to influence public opinion and to shape Britain’s foreign policy.