British Studies Web Pages



Government and Politics - bibliography

British Studies textbooks

Academic books

Mini Reviews


British Studies textbooks


  • Lavery C 1995 Focus on Britain Today Phoenix ELT
    • Unit 2 Parliament
  • McLean, A 1993 Profile UK Heinemann
    • Unit 2 The Voice of the People
  • Musman R & Adrian-Vallance D 1989 Britain Today Longman
    • Ch 4 Democracy and Government (see mini-review down page)

Good for statistics

  • Harvey P & Jones R 2002 (2nd ed) Britain Explored Longman
    • Unit 2 Constitution + Unit 4 Politics (see mini-review downpage)


  • Goodman J & Addis C 1992 Britain Now Book One: British Life and Institutions BBC
    • Section 2 Politics + Section 4 Local Government (see mini-review downpage)


  • McDowell D 1999 (2nd ed) Britain in Close-up Longman (see mini-review downpage)
    • Ch 2 System of Government + Ch 3 Government and Politics + Ch 4 Local Government
  • O�Driscoll J 1997 (2nd ed) Britain OUP
    • Ch 6 Political Life + Ch 7 Monarchy + Ch 8 The Government + Ch 9 Parliament + Ch 10 Elections
  • Oakland J 1995 (3rd ed) British Civilisation Routledge
    • Ch 3 Political institutions + Ch 4 Local Government
  • Irwin J 1994 (3rd ed) Modern Britain Routledge
    • Ch 2 System of Government + Ch 3 Local Government
  • Bromhead P 1991 (9th ed) Life in Modern Britain Longman (see mini-review downpage)
    • Ch 2 Gov and Politics + Ch 3 The House of Lords + Ch 4 Local Government


  • Crowther J (ed) 1999 Oxford Guide to British and American Culture OUP
    • Act of parliament p4 + Elections to parliament p173 + Local government in Britain p314 + Parliament p400-5 + Political parties in Britain p419 + plus individual entries
  • The Office for National Statistics 2000 Britain 2001 The Stationery Office

o        Ch 6 Government (Produced every year - get the most up-to-date)

  • Oakland J 1993 A Dictionary of British Institutions - a student�s guide Routledge

o        Individual entries

  • Room A 1990 An A-Z of British Life OUP

o        Individual entries

  • FCO Booklets e.g. British Democracy in Action/ Britain�s System of Government/ Passing Legislation in the United Kingdom

o        Those available will probably be from the mid-90s - irregularly updated


Academic books

Many of these books can be found in the British Studies Resource Points. For a full list of what can be found there see British Studies Books.

         Roberts D (ed) 1995 British Politics in Focus Causeway (see mini-review downpage)

         Lively J & Lively A (eds) 1994 Democracy in Britain: a reader Blackwell (see mini-review downpage)

         Paxman J 1991 Friends in High Places - Who runs Britain? Penguin


The British Studies Now bibliography has a very good annotated list of further books on government and politics but there is no guarantee they will be available in Poland


Mini Reviews


Harvey P & Jones R 2002 (new ed) Britain Explored Longman

         Ch 3 The Constitution + Ch 4 Politics

Audio cassettes are available to accompany this book, suited for intermediate level ELT work. It offers fairly simple description of the themes within these two chapters, with slightly less text than full-colour illustrations, diagrams and photographs. A well-presented, easy to use book in the classroom or for self-study. There are good questions for discussion and comprehension work is also presented.

Goodman J & Addis C 1992 Britain Now: British Life and Institutions BBC English

         Section 2 Politics + Tapescript

         Section 4 Local Government + Tapescript

This comes complete with audio cassettes prepared by a BBC team with plenty of experience and a good reputation for producing ELT/background to Britain materials.

It contains authentic interviews with politicians, journalists and others about the specific political topics, attempting to provide real situations and opinions and bring the issues to life. There is good language work to be done with such material both inside and outside the classroom. The booklet provides a succinct guide to the two areas covered, with relevant figures and diagrams and only little textual discussions because the emphasis tends to be on the interviews.

Comprehension questions and discussion points are provided for both teachers and learners and a glossary of key terms.

Some of the material may seem a little dated now as it was produced in 1992, when Mr. Major was still in power although the institutions and processes of government have changed only a little since then. Useful for use with intermediate level students.

Musman R & Adrian-Vallance D 1989 Britain Today Longman

         Ch 4 Democracy and Government

This book attempts to look at life in contemporary Britain as seen through the eyes of a number of British people. Several families are introduced at the beginning, from different social strata, and their views and descriptions are included in this chapter, as in the others.

Some useful background information and history of democracy and government in Britain is given before moving on to a dialogue between members of one of the families about election day.

Other sections in the chapter vary between factual and contextual material and descriptions, dialogues and narratives from the family members.  In some ways this can seem confusing to the reader, especially if you only wish to look at this one chapter and have not, therefore, built up some sort of reader�s relationship with the characters. Yet, on the other hand, first hand information from �real people� is provided, and not just the author�s views and accounts. The characters do enliven the chapter to some extent and their accounts can be exploited in the classroom.

There are useful photographs and illustrations along with maps and flow charts.  A glossary is provided of the more difficult vocabulary as well as exercises for students. Useful for use with intermediate to advanced learners.

McDowall D 1997 Britain in Close-Up Longman

         Introduction: the Political Background + Ch 2 The System of Government

������������ + Ch 3 Government and Politics + Ch 5 Local Government

As can immediately be seen from the amount of space given over to the theme, government and its many related aspects and issues is a focus of this excellent book which makes it a key text for the study of this subject within the British Studies classroom. In fact, the theme informs most of the other chapters, such as on Education since policy is, after all, decided by government.

The Introduction clearly sets the context for the study of modern Britain within the realm of politics and dismisses any notion that the area of �government� is dry and uninteresting. It is very much focussed on the 1980s and the politics of Mrs. Thatcher, along with their continued repercussions. The government of Mr. Major is also discussed.

Chapter 2 outlines the necessary workings and problems within the Crown, Whitehall, Westminster, the electoral and party systems. The Houses of Commons and Lords are also described along with good accounts of parliamentary procedures and committees.

Chapter 3 shifts the focus to the notion of the �Constitution�, with the Monarchy and how it sits besides the government and civil service. The need for reform to this rather traditional system is outlined along with the relationship of ordinary people to political parties and the challenges that these parties now face.

Chapter 5 on local government briefly outlines how this operates before moving on to the tensions that often exist between local and central government, which have sometimes in the recent past been brought to crisis point such as with the so-called �poll tax revolt� in 1990. This is generally agreed to have hastened the downfall of Mrs. Thatcher.

Although there is some important history set out in all of the relevant chapters, the emphasis is very much on what is has happened in the recent past (up to the time of rewriting, which was just before the New Labour victory in the General Election of 1997.)  McDowall usefully sets out the issues and debates within the areas of both national and local government, including the important issues of devolution and possible changes in the electoral system, so that it leads very much into current issues now being discussed both inside and outside of the corridors of power in Whitehall and Westminster.

If one word could sum up the texts, it is �change� which is exactly what is happening right now on the verge of the 21st century. The book contains excellent resource materials and clearly explains often complex issues without oversimplification. Each chapter has useful exercise material at the end and there are good photos and other illustrations.

At the start of the book, there is a very good list of useful sources and books for further reading whilst at the back we can find a glossary and an index for quick reference. Recommended for use by intermediate to advanced learners and those with a special interest in political themes.

Bromhead P 1991 (9th ed) Life in Modern Britain Longman

         Ch 2 Government and Politics + Ch 3 The House of Lords + Ch 4 Local Government

This is the revised edition so is fairly up to date, although there have been other major developments since 1997. As with the McDowall book, a large amount of space is given over to the theme and the author recognises throughout the key role that government plays in everyone�s life.

Chapter 2 provides necessary historical background with factual and contextual material. Useful diagrams and tables are provided and the text is, at times, quite densely packed.

A whole chapter, number 3, is dedicated to discussion of the House of Lords, often seen as the most undemocratic part of the British political system and one that is capable of delaying and overturning new laws. These issues are documented clearly by the author who points out the possible changes that may occur within this sector of government in the near future.

Chapter 4 on Local Government also looks at the issues as well as how it works with a short but comprehensive account of the system and its problems.

There are few illustrations in this book and the photographs are all black and white thus it would not appeal to younger learners but rather to advanced learners and students.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1995 Britain�s System of Government

A glossy, official publication of 36 pages with useful information on various aspects of government, its institutions and processes. As usual with such a publication, there is little emphasis on issues with an attempt at succinctly and objectively describing the way things are at the present. It is easy to use with plenty of colour photographs of the places and people it describes.

The main sections are on the Monarchy, Parliament, Her Majesty�s Government, the Civil Service, Local Government, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland, the Legal System, Britain and the European Union. Finally, there is a list of government departments and agencies, with their contact addresses. These may be useful for adventurous students or researchers wishing to find out more about a particular department. Only the essential information is provided for those seeking only the main points and not wishing to delve too deeply into the themes.

Suitable as a. background resource for teachers of intermediate to advanced learners

Roberts D. et al. 1997 British Politics in Focus Causeway Press

This specialist book offer 600 pages of excellently researched and presented information and material. There is almost everything here you might need to know about politics in Britain up to the time of writing. It is not an ELT book but could be used in the ELT classroom given the good, easy to use layout, explanatory notes, chapter summaries and key definitions. There are plenty of diagrams and illustrations throughout, such as cartoons and bar charts, as well as black and white photographs. The illustrations alone offer great potential for exploitation as well as the accompanying texts.

The book is divided into 5 main sections: Political argument, British politics in context, representation, decision-making and finally citizenship, with a total of 19 chapters.

It goes beyond the usual description and accounts of formal political bodies, although these are present, to include discussion of the relationship between government and the media which has been a very topical issue in recent months.

We can also find information on law and order which often figures quite highly on the election manifestos of all political parties in the UK. The judiciary and its links to government and politics are described. Part 3 presents discussion of the many and varied types of pressure groups that can be found in the UK and how they work in the informal as well as formal spheres of politics. Notions of political ideology are tackled early on in Part 1.

The necessary history can be found but the emphasis is on how things work in the contemporary period and what changes we can expect.

It is also good on the European and International contexts, which are sometimes overlooked. We live in an increasingly internationally governed world with some of the traditional parliamentary powers now subsumed by European Union bodies in Strasbourg and elsewhere. This may be of special interest to readers in Poland as the country stands on the verge of EU accession.

The chapter summaries are useful in providing at a glance information and at the end of each chapters there are relevant references. As can be expected with a book of this size, there is a large, comprehensive index at the end as well as further reading. An excellent source book as well as something to use in the classroom with intermediate to advanced learners and for those with a special interest in politics.

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