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Government & Politics   >   Devolution

Devolution and the United Kingdom

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In this course, Professor Nicola McEwen examines devolution in the United Kingdom. In the first lecture, we outline what devolution is, how it differs from federalism, and the key terminology involved in understanding devolution. In the second lecture, we take a much closer and more critical look at this historical background to devolution. In the third, we highlight the different devolved and reserved powers across Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In the fourth, we consider devolution in the aftermath of Brexit and discuss the problems created by the 2020 United Kingdom Internal Market Act (UKIMA). In our fifth lecture, we turn to England. We first explore some initial failed attempts to devolve in England, as in the North-East referendum of 2004, before moving on to consider the asymmetric devolution deals struck with combined regional authorities across some city regions in England over the last decade. In the sixth and final lecture, we wrap up with a conclusion underlining the territorial complexity of the UK constitution and highlighting the various strains on the relationship between the UK government and regional devolved governments in the aftermath of Covid-19, Brexit and UKIMA.

Devolution and the United Kingdom

In this module we outline what devolution is, focusing in particular on: (i) how it differs from federalism; (ii) the different forms of devolution across the UK and their historical origins; (iii) the purpose of devolution; (iv) the idea that, ultimately, authority lies with the central Parliament in Westminster; (v) the all-important Sewel Convention, which states that the UK Parliament will ‘not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters’; (vi) some key terminology, including the distinctions between legislative, administrative, symmetrical and asymmetrical forms of devolved and federated systems.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McEwen, N. (2022, January 05). Devolution - Devolution and the United Kingdom [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McEwen, N. "Devolution – Devolution and the United Kingdom." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Jan 2022,

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Prof. Nicola McEwen

Prof. Nicola McEwen

Edinburgh University