You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

UK Politics – Devolution

2. The Democratic Foundations of Devolution

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module we take a closer and more critical look at the historical background to devolution, focusing in particular on: (i) the differences between the various devolved regions in the UK; (ii) the democratic foundations of devolved powers in each region; (iii) the decades-long campaign for self-government in Scotland; (iv) the lukewarm response the same project garnered in Wales up to 1997; (v) the distinctive situation in Northern Ireland and devolution in this context as a form of conflict resolution rather than self-government; (vi) that all forms of devolution in these regions had some form of democratic foundation.


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.


Nicola McEwen has published widely in the field of territorial politics, nationalism, devolution, and multi-level parties and elections. She is actively involved in informing debate within the wider policy and political community. She frequently provides expert media commentary and advice to parliamentarians and governments and is Co-Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change. Other recent research projects include an ESRC Senior Scotland Fellowship exploring the implications of Scottish independence for cross-border relations. She is also a Fellow of the Constitution Unit at University College London.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McEwen, N. (2022, January 05). UK Politics – Devolution - The Democratic Foundations of Devolution [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McEwen, N. "UK Politics – Devolution – The Democratic Foundations of Devolution." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Jan 2022,

Image Credits

Get instant access to over 6,400 lectures