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Excellent MOOC on American Government

Mike McCartney

13th April 2021

In fact, it's now a series. But when I did it it was one entire course. And it is excellent.

A previous post here has talked about the virtues of MOOCs. See:

I highly recommend this one, delivered by Thomas Patterson, Professor of Government at the Kennedy School, Harvard:

I say this with some authority, because I completed it in June 2018. I try to follow the principle that I wouldn't ask my students to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself. So this was my second go at doing a MOOC. The first was on Economic Development, by Paul Collier, also on the edX site.

Personally I just find Professor Patterson's tone, pace of delivery, and style of presentation eminently watchable. He doesn't veer off at tangents or go into unnecessary detail. And while I didn't do all of the extra reading suggested, those I managed to have time to source and read would be ideal for an A Level student. If you haven't completed a MOOC before and are about to embark on your studies of the US element of the A Level course, this would be an ideal complement. Don't just take my word for it. A number of my previous students have done it, and they have all found it really useful in helping them understand the US political system better, and helped them get the grades they wanted for university.

As I said above, the course has been sliced into several parts, so you can dip in where you think is most appropriate.

You might have already covered the constitutional foundations:

You can either go on to look at the institutions:

Or what is essentially the participation strand of the course, though polling and the media don't closely mirror the A Level content:

Personally I enjoyed the section on public policy the most, but the only bit that chimes with A Level much is on foreign policy:

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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