American Political Institutions

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 17 January 2022
Friday 25 March 2022
01 September 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

American Political Institutions is designed to promote strong analytic thinking with respect to political institutions in the United States (e.g. Congress, Presidency, Electoral Campaigns, etc.).

Students should be reasonably familiar with the American political system so that these topics can be studied in more depth than a general introduction class. Particularly, this module offered in this semester will focus on American Congress.

Module aims

After taking the class, students should be able to have a strong working knowledge of the American political system, and they should also be able to understand how research takes place within each topic area.

Module learning outcomes

• Students will gain an understanding of the role of political institutions in shaping the dynamics of American government, public policy, and political behavior.
• Students will learn about a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of American institutions.
• Students will learn to think critically and analytically both about American institutions themselves and the bodies of research that seek to understand these institutions.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be structured with a mix of lecture and in-depth class discussions of weekly topics. As such, it is required that students come to class prepared, having completed all assigned readings for the week they are assigned and having thought critically about the arguments and evidence presented in the readings. Students should pay close attention to the research methods used to test hypotheses and support theories, why the authors chose such methods, and whether the methods present a reasonable test of theory.


  • Fiorina, Morris P.; Abrams, Samuel J. (2008-06-15) 'Political Polarization in the American Public', in Annual Review of Political Science. vol. 11, pp.563-591
  • Poole, Keith T; Rosenthal, Howard; Poole, Keith T.; EBSCOhost ebook collection. (©2007) Ideology & Congress, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
  • Davidson, Roger H.; Oleszek, Walter J.; Lee, Frances E.; Schickler, Eric. (2019-07-26) Congress and Its Members, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc.
  • Binder, Sarah A. (2014-05-27) Polarized We Govern?.
  • The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription | National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript
  • Bafumi, Joseph; Herron, Michael C. (August 2010) 'Leapfrog Representation and Extremism: A Study of American Voters and Their Members in Congress', in The American political science review: American Political Science Association. vol. 104 (3)
  • Poole, Keith T; Rosenthal, Howard; Poole, Keith T. (©2007) Ideology & Congress, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
  • Krehbiel, Keith. (1998) Pivotal politics: a theory of U.S. lawmaking, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (2015) 'Causes and Consequences of Polarization', in Solutions to political polarization in America, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Moodle Test 1     30% 
Coursework   Moodle Test 2    30% 
Coursework   Essay  11/03/2022  40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ju Park, email: jp20761@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Julia Park jp20761@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator: Edmund Walker govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 325 hours, 10 (3.1%) hours available to students:
315 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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