American Presidency

Module code: POPP 3046

Module descriptor

This is a module about presidential power, and how it has been used and misused by modern presidents.

Beginning with Richard E. Neustadt's theory of presidential power, the course will unfold by examining presidential role and reputation and the prestige that comes with this. Issues of leadership and character will be analysed, looking at what expectations of the presidency and presidents themselves exist. Congressional Quarterly's presidential success ratings will be used, along with public opinion polls to illustrate how greatness is measured and perceived.

The significance of the vice-presidency and the first lady will be considered, and following on from this will be the emergence of the post-war imperial presidency and the related problems of power. The presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt will be the first to be examined individually and this will lead to the end of the autumn term. The Spring Term will focus on the trajectory from the imperial era to the post-imperial years of Gerald Ford and others to the resurgent presidency of George W. Bush and the unlikely rise of Barack Obama. Criteria for analysing individuals will include character traits, significant achievements and failures, relationship with the media and other actors, and relative historical greatness.

Contact hours per student per year

  • Lectures: 24 hours
  • Tutorials: 24 hours
  • Other: Extra-curricular activities such as Congress to Campus and US Embassy trips occur on top of the above contact hours


  • Portfolio and in-class task (Ongoing log-book tasks in term one (total of six). Students choose best 4 x 250 words for submission.Plus 500 word critique of primary source item and in-class task): 50%
  • Seen Exam 48 hour take-home paper (2 questions. 1000+ words each): 50%

Additional costs

Extra costs: #DMUglobal trip to US Embassy, London. Optional extra, partially funded by #DMUglobal