2014 Undergraduate Dissertation
Showcasing Politics students’ research
This year Politics students have outdone themselves in producing their independent research project – the final year dissertation! Indeed, external examiners commented on the quality and range of work, praising our students highly.
The diversity of topics and approaches is mind-blowing, showing that Northumbria Politics students are globally minded, drawing on a broad range of ideas and theories to explain contemporary political phenomena.
British politics were a hot topic in a post-recession, EU election and pre-general election year. Topics here ranged from analyses of recent elections, the role of the electoral system to the Conservative Party and government politics:
- What influences our voting decisions? A study of the impact of the 2008 economic recession in regards to the voting patterns of the 2010 UK general election
- Proportionality and electoral systems in Great Britain in comparative perspective. How does the electoral system in Great Britain facilitate the representation of smaller parties, such as the Green party, in Parliament?
- The Big Society: Devolution of power and success of policy reform in Cameron’s Britain. To what extent have the Coalition Government’s ideas of the Big Society been a success in regards to planning policy reform?
- The demise of the Tartan Tories. What are the causes for the decline in support of the Conservative Party in Scotland during the period 1950 to the present day?
- A critical analysis of the Austerity narrative
The EU, immigrants as well as racism were hot topics in a year in which UKIP became a threat to mainstream parties:
- A study using discourse analysis into the portrayal of Islam within British newspapers. How is Islam portrayed within British newspapers and what implications this might have?
- To what extent have counter-terrorism measures in Britain affected state legitimacy in minority communities?
- Immigration. An indepth look into the factors affecting British people’s negative views
- Racism in Britain since the 1990s. A study of the extent to which racism within British society has increased or decreased as time has progressed since the 1990s
- Ideology versus strategy. Explaining Margaret Thatcher’s decision not to involve Britain in the Economic and Monetary Union
- From Bruges to Bloomberg: a historical analysis of the development of Euroscepticism within British politics
…with one student even correctly PREDICTING the outcome of the 2014 local government elections!:
- The Rise of Britain’s New Right. How has the change in British politics and the transformation of voter behavior in Britain enabled the British National Party and the UK Independence Party to gain support?
Others asked broader questions about British society…
- Does the existence of electorally alienated youth imply that there is a potential revolutionary class in the UK?
- Anarchy in the UK. Has anarchy become anarchic? A look at the social perception of anarchism in Britain today
- The social class gap for educational attainment. A comparison between the UK and Finland
while some were interested in wider questions of democracy, representation and religion…
- E-democracy. A revolution for democracy? To what extent can new technology such as the internet be utilized to increase turnout and participation to help revolutionise democracy?
- Faith, community and the nation. A study assessing the place of religion in the modern world.
- Everybody’s Got Soul. Analysing unelected representation from rhythm and blues during the civil rights era
- Insider/Outsider. How do the methods pressure groups use to influence public policy impact upon democracy?
and global governance:
- From the Ritz to the rubble. The potential tragedy of the internet commons. Through the application of global commons and norm theory in what way can the international community approach the issues associated with online activity and the problems that arise from it, specifically focusing on illegal person-to-person file sharing
- An examination of the current climate change regime
- How was political and financial support obtained for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games bid
Many students drew on the department’s modules in area studies, looking around the world to explain politics in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East:
- A democratic recession: An assessment of the usefulness of transition theory and liberal democratic theory in determining the future of China’s political system in the next 20 years
- An exploration and analysis of how United States foreign policy impacts on Bolivian national sovereignty
- The failure of socialism in Cuba. An assessment of how US foreign policy towards Cuba contributed to the failure of Castro’s socialist system
- Deciphering Israel’s unique nuclear policy. Was maintaining Israel’s nuclear policy of opacity the correct course of action in response to Iran’s apocalyptic rhetoric during the Ahmadinejad presidency?
- Rwanda: a case of modern genocide or a template of conventional mass murder?
Politics in the United States remain a key interest as this country’s contradictions continue to puzzle:
- To what extent do the use of informal powers, which the president of the United States of America posses, make them a successful leader?
- The disproportional influence of the NRA. An evaluation of how and why the National Rifle Association undermines the majority of Americans who want stricter gun control
- Health inequalities and policy in the United States. An assessment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
- The American public – influence or nuisance? To what extent does public opinion influence United States’ foreign policy?
- Does the media influence political behaviours in society? A study of how the media influences voting behaviours, with a sub-focus on United States presidential elections
Finally, war, intervention and terrorism continue to be key concerns for those interested contemporary security concerns, International Relations and the role of the great powers in relating to the rest of the world through force, diplomacy or regulation:
- Broken Promises. How has the War on Terror exposed contradictions of the Obama administration that depart from the platforms in his campaign in 2008?
- Just Bush Wars. Were Operation’s Just Cause (Panama 1989) and Iraqi Freedom (Iraq 2003) humanitarian interventions? A critical analysis
- Sovereignty vs. Responsibility. A study into whether foreign intervention is a legitimate course of action when a state is experiencing a humanitarian crisis, looking at potential changes in the understanding of state sovereignty and the development of norms relating to humanitarian intervention since 1945
- Examine whether the actions taken by the US and UK governments to intervene in Afghanistan and Iraq were legitimate in relation to Just War theory
- Home-grown Terrorism. An assessment of the Crone and Harrow framework for identifying acts of home-grown terrorism
- A Tale of Three Presidents. An assessment of the position of the ‘democratic entitlement’ within the American policy on humanitarian intervention from 1990-2009
- Who defines terrorism? An assessment of how mass media, think tanks and politicians portray cases of individual and state terror, and the power relations between them
- The British bomb. A changing role in the post-Cold War world
- The Great Game: Britain in Afghanistan. Can Realism and Idealism identify what motivated Britain’s intervention into the governance of Afghanistan?
- Conformity and defiance. An assessment of United States imperialism in Venezuela from 1958 onwards
- Blowback. Al-Qaeda, theology and imperial foreign policy. Is the prominence of Al-Qaeda as an anti-western force the result of interventionist foreign policy, Middle Eastern geopolitics or Islamic ideology?
- Is International Relations Theory still relevant today when looking at the contentious diplomatic issues of East Asian foreign policy? An insight into what models of International Relations theory best describe the actions of Japan and China with regards to the disputed Senkaku Islands in 2012
- The withdrawal of great powers from regions from which they had previously been engaged affect the policy of regional actors with particular attention to the case studies of Vietnam and Afghanistan