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American Politics

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code SO107-302) Add to Basket Wed, 19 June, Thu, 20 June & Fri, 21 June, 10:00-16:00 (3-day course) G42 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Frazer McGlinchey MA PhD
£125.00 Concessions and discounts

Course Summary

This course explores the current political landscape of the United States. Students will learn about key institutions of the political system and the issues that will shape the mid-term election 2022.

Course Details

Content of Course

This course provides an overview of the main institutions and processes of the American political system, with a focus on the upcoming election. It will cover the different branches of government, the role of the president, the electoral system and key political actors, such as the Democratic and Republican parties. The workings of the political system will be explored in relation to the issues of the day.

The course is organised in three main parts:

1. The American Political System.

This introductory section will provide a brief history of the American Constitution from the Founding Fathers to the present day, and examine the roles and interactions between Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court. We will explore the emergence and evolution of a distinctly American political culture.

2. Elections and Political Parties.

Topics covered in this section may include the history of recent elections, the nature of the electoral system, the evolution and current state of the Democratic and Republican parties, and other political actors that influence election results.

3. Current Issues in American Politics.

In the final section, we will discuss the current president’s record in office, some of the key fault-lines in American politics and recent political developments, which will provide the backdrop for the mid-term election in November 2022.

Teaching method(s)

The course will combine lectures with short videos, exercises and tutor-led discussions. At the end of the course, students will be provided with links to blogs, open access articles and other material for further optional reading.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the constituent parts of the American political system and explain the relationship between these parts;

  • Describe the processes at work in electing the President and Congress of the United States;

  • Analyse the role of actors such as political parties, interest groups and the media in American election campaigns;

  • Engage in constructive debate on current political issues.


Core Readings



  • Belenky, A.S., 2016. Who Will Be the Next President? A Guide to the U.S. Presidential Election System. 2nd ed [online]. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Available at:

  • McKay, D., 2017. American Politics and Society. 9th ed. Oxford: Blackwell.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.