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What will you learn?

This article outlines the main topics this course will cover and the big political questions that you will explore and solve along the way.
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© The Manchester Grammar School

What will you learn in this course?

The aim of this course is to solve the question ‘Who is more powerful in theory and in practice, the UK Prime Minister or the US President?’, based on what you learn over the next few weeks.

In this course over the next four weeks, we will:

  • Evaluate the key political institutions within the systems of government in the UK and US
  • Explore the governmental systems in the UK and US through a series of fascinating case studies and examples
  • Compare the systems of government in the UK and US
  • Critique the systems of government in the UK and US
  • Debate in forums, which political system is more effective.
  • Discuss key current political issues in the UK and US.
  • Solve the answer to the question ‘Who is more powerful in theory and in practice, the UK Prime Minister or the US President, based on what you have learnt in this course.

More specifically, this week, we will:

  • Explore the UK and US constitutions through a series of fascinating case studies and examples.
  • Compare the UK and US constitutions.
  • Compare the powers of the Prime Minister and President that are outlined in the constitutions.
  • Evaluate what the different types of constitution and constitutional changes mean for Prime Ministerial and Presidential power.
  • Discuss flaws in the UK constitution.
  • Debate if the UK Prime Minister has become like a US President.
  • Solve the answer to the question so far, based on what you have learnt, ‘Who is more powerful in theory and in practice, the UK Prime Minister or the US President?

In future weeks we will:

Week 2 – we will look at the power of the Prime Minister and President in relation to how secure their position. We will learn more about how Boris Johnson was able to remain Prime Minister in January 2022 despite investigations by the Metropolitan police about him breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. We will also find out why Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives after losing the 2020 Presidential election but can stand again in the 2024 Presidential election. The reason for this is due to how differently the UK and US constitutions are set out, which is why we will start by focusing on the constitutions.

Week 3 – we will learn more about the role that Parliament and Congress play in relation to Prime Ministerial and Presidential power – primarily why the Prime Minister and President are reliant upon persuading Parliament and Congress to get the laws and policies passed that they want, why this it is much easier for the Prime Minister than the President, due to the system of separation of powers than exists in the US compared with the fusion of powers that exists in the UK, and therefore why recent US presidents have needed to find ways to get around Congress to pursue their political agenda. The reason for this is also due to how differently the UK and US constitutions are set out.

Week 4 – we will finish the course by looking at the differing judicial systems in the UK and US. We will look at the powers of the UK Supreme Court and US Supreme Court. In week one you will have learnt that the powers of each Court differ considerably due to the different constitutional systems in the UK and US. In this final week we will look at what this means for the Prime Minister and President. Both Supreme Courts have been accused of acting increasingly politically in recent years. We will explore why this is and will evaluate whether we think the Supreme Courts in the UK and the US are too political and too powerful. We will also explore in detail recent appointments to the US Supreme Court and their significance because this has been one of the most contentious issues in US politics and society in recent years.

This is a discussion led course where social learning is the focus – you will enjoy the course more if you engage with the content and other learners through the comments section.

You can find 5 useful tips and tools for social learning and more about what social learning is here

Watch out for the discussion prompts throughout the course and get ready to be active in the conversations!

As this is a discussion led course, this will be the main way that you will be assessed.

© The Manchester Grammar School
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Introduction to Political Systems and Power in the UK and USA

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