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  2. MA Government Studies
optional module
15 credits

The History of The Civil Service: Evolution of the Machinery of Government

This innovative new module, in partnership with the Cabinet Office, focuses on the evolution of the British Civil Service and how its role has developed alongside the changing role of the state. World wars, the creation of the welfare state, as well as technological, economic and societal change has carved new functions and expectations of what government is there to do.

Much of the focus of the study of British government centres on the politicians – the powerful individuals who lead government for a period. Though they are powerful and vital, Prime Ministers and their Cabinet are temporary. There is however a permanent side of the coin in British government – the Civil Service. The Civil Service acts as a repository of influence and institutional power in government. At present there are close to 500,000 civil servants based in Whitehall and around the country. The Civil Service has historically been a place where many people spend much of their careers, and work for governments of several different political hues. Yet there is a lack of understanding of how this enduring institution has shaped the history and workings of statecraft.

Visiting Professor & Cabinet Secretary Simon Case speaking at a Strand Group event in 2021

This module will be led by Dr Michelle Clement and Professor Jon Davis. The module will include innovative teaching techniques that centre on individual, small group and whole class learning to debate and develop our critical understanding of how and why the Civil Service works. We will also utilise our proximity to the heart of British government to conduct special guest classes with practitioners.

Students will gain a strategic understanding of how the British Civil Service has developed, how the most senior civil servant position of Cabinet Secretary was established and how it has evolved, how successive prime ministers have shaped this permanent part of the state, and how public services have been shaped by governments since 1945. This strategic foundation will set students in excellent stead for careers and further study in and around British government.

Learning Outcomes:

Teaching Team:

Dr Michelle Clement

Professor Jon Davis

*Plus, special guest practitioners