‘I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to politicians’ – Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), former President of France.
Political decisions shape our lives now and in the future whether we like it or not, whether we are interested in politics or frustrated by decisions made by people ‘at the top’.
A-level Politics is an exciting and intellectual challenge with the emphasis on debate, discussion and argument. Politics exists because people disagree and this A-Level looks at how and why people disagree. Politics A-level is all about how society manages differing opinions and is as much about compromise and concession as it is about strength of conviction. It impacts at every level of daily life, irrespective of your chosen career path or skill base.
If you believe keeping up to date with the latest political and social news is a fundamental part of your day – if you enjoy discussion and accept that there are no right or wrong answers, then you should consider the A-level Politics course.
Although some students may go on to read politics at university, the skills you’ll develop on this course will equip you for a wide range of subject areas including, Law, International Relations, Economics, History and Philosophy.
In essence, you’ll learn analytical skills, researching and essay writing, communication and debating and team building. These are skills that will benefit you, whatever your chosen career. The course is structured to give you a strong grounding in the subject, specifically in terms of the structure of government and politics and its application.
It’s important that you understand the topics at a practical level and that’s why classroom discussions and debates, as well as independent study projects, will focus on helping you to form your own supported views on topical matters. In your first year you’ll learn about the UK system – the theory behind it, as well as a strong emphasis on current affairs in Britain. We will cover topics such as democracy, elections, political parties, Parliament, the Prime Minister, and the Constitution. In your second year, we will study the nature and branches of the American political system.
The course is assessed entirely through exams, with no coursework. You’ll take three written exam papers of equal value, at the end of Year 13.
This section explores the nature of politics and how people engage in the political process in the UK. Students will investigate in detail how people and politics interact and will explore the emergence and development of the UK’s democratic system and the similarities, differences, connections and parallels between direct and indirect democracy. There will is a focus on the role and scope of political parties that are so central to contemporary politics, including the significance of the manifestos published at election time and their relevance to the mandate of the resulting government.
This section allows students to understand the individual in the political process and their relationship with the state and their fellow citizens. Students will examine how electoral systems in the UK operate and how individuals and groups are influenced in their voting behaviour and political actions. This component will further examine the role of the media in contemporary politics. It will also give students an understanding of voting patterns and voting behaviour. The units are as follows:
- Democracy and participation
- Political parties
- Electoral systems
- Voting behaviour and the media.
Core Political Ideas
This section allows students to explore the three traditional political ideas of conservatism, liberalism and socialism. Students will learn about the core ideas and principles and how they apply in practice to human nature, the state, society and the economy, the divisions within each idea and their key thinkers. There are three content areas in Core Political Ideas:
Politics is ultimately about people, but most political decisions are made by a branch of government whose roles and powers are determined by a set of rules: the constitution.
This component is fundamental to understanding the nature of UK government, since it enables students to understand where, how and by whom political decisions are made. The component also gives students a base of comparison to other political systems. The component introduces students to the set of rules governing politics in the UK, the UK constitution, which is different in nature from most of the rest of the world. It further introduces students to the specific roles and powers of the different major branches of the government – legislative, executive, and judiciary – as well as the relationships and balance of power between them, and considers where sovereignty now lies within this system.
Students will explore the following key themes: the relative powers of the different branches of UK government; the extent to which the constitution has changed in recent years; the desirability of further change; and the current location of sovereignty within the UK political system.
There are four content areas:
- The constitution
- Prime Minister and executive
- Relationships between the branches
Optional Political Ideas
This section allows students to explore one of five additional political ideas. Students will learn about the core ideas and principles, the effects of these ideas, the divisions within each idea and their key thinkers. The five optional ideas to choose from are:
Government and Politics of the USA
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. Students will explore the US Constitution and the arguments surrounding this guiding document of US democracy. In learning about the key institutions of government in the USA and analysing the manner in which they achieve this power and exercise it over their citizens, students will judge ultimately whether ‘liberty and justice for all’ has been achieved in the USA.
Students will be expected to highlight the debates on the nature of democracy in the USA and evaluate the extent to which it remains an issue. The impact of the US government on the world beyond its borders is increasingly a feature of international politics. Students will begin to engage with this interaction by comparing and contrasting politics and institutions in the US with those in the UK. This will develop a wider understanding of politics as a discipline, underpinned by the theoretical concepts of comparative politics.
There are six content areas:
- The US Constitution and federalism
- US Congress
- US presidency
- US Supreme Court
- US Democracy and participation
- US Civil rights
AO1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of political institutions, processes, concepts, theories and issues. 35%
AO2 Analyse aspects of politics and political information, including in relation to parallels, connections, similarities and differences. 35%
AO3 Evaluate aspects of politics and political information, including to construct arguments, make substantiated judgements and draw conclusions. 30%