A Level Government & Politics

What do I need to be able to do this course?

Politics is a live, constantly-changing subject. A Level Government and Politics is set against this background. You first need to ask yourself: do you have a genuine interest in current affairs? To succeed in this subject, students must refer to political sources on a regular basis. This includes reading a quality newspaper, following some of the many current affairs programmes on the television and radio, and using internet sites like the BBC. Media sources on politics are just as important as textbooks. While there are no specific requirements to take up this subject, you must be able to cope with the demands of a written subject, so as a guide we suggest that B/C (or 5) in either English or History is desirable.

 

Curriculum

We follow the Edexcel specification. The course involves the study of Politics today in the UK: how the UK is governed and what powers politicians have over our lives.  We focus on the role of the media and on how citizens respond to Politics, either through involvement in Political Parties or Pressure Groups, by voting or even being alienated from society. We look at some of the main ideas that inform political action, and we undertake a comparative topic with politics in the USA.

The course will cover the following areas:

Component 1: UK Politics

This component will cover two main areas: Political Participation and Core Political Ideas. In the first part, you will explore how people and politics interact. This will cover the development of democracy in the UK and its different forms, whether direct or indirect. You will also look at the role and scope of political parties that are so central to contemporary politics. You will examine the different electoral systems in operation and how individuals and groups are influenced in their voting behaviour. You will further examine the role of the media in contemporary politics. In the second part you will explore the three traditional political ideas of conservatism, liberalism and socialism.

Component 2: UK Government

This component introduces students to the set of rules governing politics in the UK, the Constitution, which is different in nature from the rest of the world. You will be introduced to the specific roles and powers of the different major branches of the government – including the Judiciary, Parliament, Civil Service, Prime Minister and Cabinet – as well as the relationships and balance of power between them. You will also consider where sovereignty is now located within the system. In the second part of this component you will explore a non-core political ideology: Feminism.

Component 3: Comparative Politics

The USA has been considered by some to be a ‘beacon of democracy’. As a world power, understanding the nature of US democracy, and the debates surrounding it, is crucial given the considerable impact that the USA has on UK, European and global politics. We will explore the US Constitution and the arguments surrounding this guiding document of US democracy. We will also explore the key institutions of government in the USA including the roles of the Congress, Senate, President, Supreme Court, as well as the parties and systems involved in US elections and the influence of pressure groups and the issue of civil rights. The course will investigate key similarities and differences between the UK and US political systems.

How is the course assessed?

All components will be assessed through written three equally-weighted 2-hour examinations at the end of Year 13.

What can I do with this course?

This is an invaluable course for improving your ability to analyse, argue and make judgements.  In the 21st century employers and Higher Education institutes are looking to attract people with thinking and communication skills: Government and Politics enables you to broaden these skills.

Government and Politics is an excellent foundation to any future degree course in related subjects such as International Politics or Comparative Studies.  It is also an excellent subject to support any Humanities or Arts subject, or it can give breadth to a Science application.  Students considering careers in the Legal System, Public Sector or Armed Services are recommended to study Politics.

Lessons in Government and Politics

Learning methods are varied across the two schools, but activities will include:

  • Discussion
  • Debate
  • Note taking and exam technique
  • Individual and group research
  • News reviews

Students will all be issued with relevant chapters from board-approved textbooks throughout the course, be given access to relevant online resources plus other updates as and when necessary.

Where does Government and Politics lead?

First and foremost Government and Politics is a well-respected A Level accepted by all universities. It is a subject that would add variety and depth to any selection of subjects – it is a great fourth choice to accompany arts or science based options. It is also an excellent accompanying subject for History and Economics.