Introduction to United States

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
16 February 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA T700 American Studies (United States),
BA T702 American Studies (United States) (UK Study),
BA T708 American Studies (United States) (Including Year Abroad),
BA T710 American Studies (United States) (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA T712 American Studies (United States) (UK Study) (Including Placement Year),
BA T770 American Studies (United States) (including Placement Year),
BA MT26 Criminology and American Studies (UK Study),
BA MT27 Criminology and American Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA MT28 Criminology and American Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA MT2R Criminology and American Studies,
BA MT3R Criminology and American Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA MT62 Criminology and American Studies (UK Study) (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This course is designed to explore the structures and dynamics of American government, providing a broad introduction into the history, ideas, and institutions that shape contemporary politics in the United States.

We will focus on three major areas: foundations of Democracy and the American system, American political institutions, and the role informal political institutions and actors in shaping American politics (e.g., interests groups and parties, political participation). Our analysis will draw on documents from America's formative period and on insights from modern political science, law experts, and journalists, allowing us to examine important political phenomena from a variety of perspectives. Throughout the course we will visit the often conflicting values of order, liberty, and equality.

Module aims

Ultimately, the goal of this course is to help each member of the class arrive at a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape American government and politics. Upon completion of this course that students will not only have a solid understanding of the institutions and processes of American government and politics, but an appreciation of the important role that we, the people, play in maintaining modern democratic institutions. Along these lines, the course is designed with the follow aims in mind:
a) To provide students with a basic introduction to the American political system and explain how the American citizens interacting with institutional rules and norms to create policy outcomes;
b) To provide students with an understanding of how the American political system has evolved over time;
c) To encourage students to absorb information about U.S. Politics through an informed and analytic lens.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will:

1. have a basic knowledge of the structure of the political system and its institutions;
2. have knowledge of how those institutions interact and work together;
3. understand the link between society and government;
4. have some understanding of how public-policy outcomes are reached.

Module information

Compulsory for 1st Yr BA American (United States) Studies.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught over 2 hours per week


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Test  13/12/2023  65% 
Coursework   Essay  25/01/2024  35% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Lawrence Ezrow, email: ezrow@essex.ac.uk.
Prof. Lawrence Ezrow
Module Supervisor: Prof. Lawrence Ezrow - Ezrow@essex.ac.uk / Module Administrator: Nicola Rowley, govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.