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US Politics - The Separation of Powers

2. Historical Context

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In this module, we think about the history of the United States, focusing in particular on: (i) the origins of the US, before it was so named, and the later wars of the European powers over that territory; (ii) the British colonies and their rule, marked by taxation, oppression, and even tyranny, in the run-up to the Revolutionary War; (iii) the creation of American government as we know it today, beginning with the Articles of Confederation; (iv) the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and (v) the fundamental document of American government: the US Constitution.


In this course, Andrew Wroe (University of Kent) explores the theory and practice of the separation of powers in the United States. In the first module, we are introduced to our key concepts and begin to complicate the notion of separated powers with Neustadt’s formulation of ‘separated institutions sharing powers’. The second module consists of a brief historical overview, providing a useful backdrop to the powers of government enshrined in the US constitution. In the third module, we explore the separation of powers more thoroughly, and in the fourth module, we complement this with an exploration of checks and balances. In the final module, we look at these concepts in practice, thinking about developments over recent years and finishing with the question of whether these political structures and institutions are still fit for purpose in the modern US.


Dr Andrew Wroe is Senior Lecturer in American Politics at the University of Kent. His current research interest is the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Previous work has focused on trust in government, particularly the reasons for its decline and its effects on the wider polity, and on how low levels of political trust frame citizens' perceptions of elected officials and may actually help engender political scandals. He has written, edited and contributed to many books on US politics. These publications cover areas including the politics of immigration reform, the Republican party and the alleged 'culture war' in the United States. His most recent book is The Ordinary Presidency of Donald J. Trump (2019).

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APA style

Wroe, A. (2021, October 14). US Politics - The Separation of Powers - Historical Context [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wroe, Andrew. "US Politics - The Separation of Powers – Historical Context." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Oct 2021,

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