This chapter provides an overview of the characteristics of the contemporary administrative state. It sketches out the essential features of state institutions mainly created under the prerogative power or statute. This includes central government, the National Health Service, local government, the police, and non-departmental public bodies. The chapter is also concerned with explaining the character of the modern administrative state as a ‘contracting state’ which relies increasingly on contractual relationships between government and independent and private service providers. In the light of widespread privatisation, the modern administrative state is discussed finally as a regulatory state.