The University of Lincoln is one of 24 UK universities running the Parliamentary Studies module with the UK Houses of Parliament. Parliamentary Studies is an undergraduate module co-taught by scholars from the School of Social and Political Sciences and officials from the Houses of Parliament.
Following a competitive process the University of Lincoln was selected to run the module from 2016. The programme was expanded in 2019 and Lincoln was delighted to be selected once again to deliver the programme for a further five years.
Talking about the Parliamentary Studies module, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, has said that:
There can be no better time to learn about politics – how Parliament operates and to hear from the people who work there – than right now when the topic is on everyone’s mind. Our Parliamentary Studies Module brings the procedures of the House of Commons and the House of Lords to life, providing a wonderful complement to on-campus teaching with a range of resources and services aimed at engaging students and university staff.
Parliamentary Studies at Lincoln aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of how the UK Parliament works, in theory and in practice. It focuses on Parliament’s twin relationships with the Executive and with the citizen and situates these within broader theories and debates about democratic accountability and the nature of representation. The module looks in detail at particular aspects of Parliamentary activity, such as the legislative process, parliamentary questions and debates and the select committee system, and examines ongoing debates around parliamentary reform including restoration and renewal and House of Lords reform.
In addition to a series of visiting speakers from the Houses of Parliament, the module draws on the extensive expertise on parliament within the School of Social and Political Sciences and the ParliLinc research centre, including sessions on petitions systems, scrutiny of the executive and representation. The module also enjoys the support of local MPs and members of the House of Lords who have contributed to teaching on the module.
A highlight of the module is undoubtedly the annual visit to Westminster to watch parliamentary business and receive briefings on the operation of Parliament from members and staff .
The module also draws on the insights of members of Lincoln’s alumni network now working at Westminster. This includes graduates of the School of Social and Political Sciences now sitting in the House of Commons and a large number of Lincoln graduates now working in the Westminster and constituency offices of MPs. This has allowed for the inclusion of a strong employability element in the programme which exposes current students to the various interesting and rewarding employment opportunities at Westminster.
Our alumni have contributed to sessions on working in parliament as part of the annual visit to Westminster and in Lincoln, ensuring that for some of our graduates at least, engagement with parliament continues beyond the Parliamentary Studies module.
The Parliamentary Studies module is coordinated by Dr Andrew Defty.
Opportunities for parliamentary studies at Lincoln continue at postgraduate level with a new Comparative Legislatures module offered as part of the School of Social and Political Sciences’ MA in Politics. The Comparative Legislatures module allows students to examine differences in the form, structure, role and impact of legislature across a range of states. Drawing on the wide range of expertise within the School the module focuses on the differences between legislative systems through a series of case studies which examine the operation of legislatures in a number of states including the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia and Russia as well as the European Parliament and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The module also aims to provide the students with the opportunity to visit legislative chambers beyond Westminster. Students on the module this year visited the Scottish Parliament.
The Comparative Legislatures module is coordinated by Dr Mark Bennister.
Internationalising Parliamentary Studies
Through the annual School of Social and Political Sciences overseas study trip students at all levels have been provided with an opportunity to visit a range of institutions across Europe and North America including legislatures. As part of these trips students have had the opportunity to visit and received briefings at legislatures including the US Congress, the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, and the national parliaments of Germany and the Netherlands.