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The Labour Party & Socialism - POL00021H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Daniel Keith
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The module considers the nature of the relationship between labour, capital, and the state, with specific reference to the governing experiences of the British Labour Party. It begins by scrutinising the claim that socialism represents a more desirable form of economic and social organisation than capitalism and that the formal representation of the labour movement in the institutions of the state is therefore a positive development. We will then ask why there have been only limited moves towards a socialist economy despite the representation of the labour movement in government by the Labour Party. This task is approached theoretically by considering the nature of the state in capitalist society, and empirically through an examination of the challenges that British Labour Governments have faced when they have been elected to office. This empirical examination will not simply historicise the governing experiences of British Labour Governments, but also considers how the state's relationship to capital in given historical conjunctures like the Great Depression, the 1970s stagflation, and the era of globalisation, have served to shape the form of British socialism.

Module learning outcomes

Demonstrate understanding of the origins, evolution and contemporary dynamics of the Labour Party and the labour movement (PLO1)

Apply theories, concepts and methods to explain the challenges encountered by the Labour Party and to use critical reasoning and (where appropriate) empirical testing to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. (PLO2)

Conduct independent research on the Labour Party (or the labour movement) using theories and concepts; selecting and applying appropriate tools to gather and interpret data; and by justifying conclusions. (PLO3)

Evaluate Labour Party policies and to present recommendations through the application of appropriate theoretical and practical perspectives, and where appropriate analysis of empirical data (PLO4)

Communicate the selection of appropriate theories and concepts, the gathering and interpretation of data and appropriate and justified conclusions to explain the development of the Labour Party (PLO5)

Demonstrate awareness and a reflective approach to differing visions of socialism and perspectives found in research on the Labour Party (PLO6).


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 10
N/A 90

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 25 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

David Coates (1975) The Labour Party and the Struggle for Socialism, Cambridge University Press.

Patrick Diamond ed. (2004) New Labour's Old Roots: Revisionist Thinkers in Labour's History, 1931-1997, Imprint Academic Steven Fielding (2003) The Labour Party: Continuity and Change in the Making of 'New' Labour, Palgrave.

Ralph Miliband (1972) Parliamentary Socialism, 2nd Edition, The Merlin Press.

Eric Shaw (2007) Losing Labour's Soul: New Labour and the Blair Government 1997-2001, Routledge.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.