PIR-10039 - Debates in American Politics
Coordinator: Jonathan N Herbert Room: CBB2.027 Tel: +44 1782 7 33539
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2019/20


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2019/20

American Politics is driven by debate. Americans are divided over their foreign policy. Over social issues such as race and abortion, the U.S. has embarked upon debates so heated that they're sometimes referred to as the "culture wars". Then there are ongoing contests over areas such as education and environmental policy. This module will introduce to many of these debates. Each week, we look at a new policy area and get you to debate the rights and wrongs of current U.S. policy and where it should go next. The module also serves to introduce you to the subject of American Politics - it's all pitched at those new to the topic. Much of the module depends on your presentations, advocating one side or the other of a debate in a key policy area. Over the semester, you should learn about a series of policy debates, who's advocating what and develop your skills in presentation and argument.

1. The module will introduce students to a number of high-profile public policy issues in American politics and the debates surrounding those issues.
2. The module will develop students' ability to present, advocate, research a case and discern between different qualities of research source.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate knowledge of 3 key debates in U.S. politics. Will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02, 03.
Demonstrate ability to pursue research employing online sources. Will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02.
Demonstrate an ability to work in a team to produce a presentation. Will be achieved by assessments: 01.
Research a topic online to advocate a specific case. Will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02.
Present material in a persuasive audio-visual form accompanied by oral argument will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02.
Research one topic in a more directly academic manner will be achieved by assessments: 03.
Discern between advocacy and academic debate will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02 vs 03.
Communicate ideas and arguments through writing with clarity. Will be achieved by assessments: 03

Study hours

Lectures: 11 hrs (11 x 1hr)
Workshop (in module's first week): 1hr
Preparatory Reading for Seminars: 30 hrs (10 x 3hrs)
Seminars: 10hrs (10 x 1 hr)
Preparation of Group Presentation: 18 hours
Preparation of Solo Presentation: 40 hours
Researching &Writing of Essay: 40 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Group Presentation weighted 20%
Team of 3 presents for 15 mins arguing one side of debate
Expectation that presentation should be audio-visual and audio-visual materials must be submitted to tutor as part of the assessment. The presentation should be based upon research using websites of stateside groups actively involved in issue advocacy. Module Tutors to use common feedback form to guarantee thorough and relevant feedback. Should be a confidence builder in the first few weeks of the module to prepare for Assessment 2.

2: Presentation weighted 40%
Individual presents for 15 mins arguing one side of debate
Reproduces Assessment 1 but as an individual activity.

3: Essay weighted 40%
1,500 word essay
An essay to be written on a different subject from those addressed in the students' presentation. The essay will be a far more traditional academic exercise as part of the attempt to encourage students to discern between advocacy and more traditional academic use of evidence.