Why study Government and Politics?
Every part of every day is affected by politics. The choices available to us as citizens and our future health and wellbeing are determined in part by politics. If you have a keen interest in news and current affairs and a desire to know about the real issues facing politicians and their differing ideas about how our country should be governed then you will thoroughly enjoy Government and Politics at ‘ A’ level. The lessons encourage independent learning as students discover how to research from a wide range of sources from newspapers and the internet to political journals, textbooks, the radio and television. In Year 12 a great deal of learning takes place outside of the classroom: trips to visit the Parliaments in London and Edinburgh, the opportunity to attend Politics Conferences, specialist revision days and the possibility of a trip to Washington D.C in Year 13 help to bring the subject to life. Additionally, guest speakers have included Graham Stuart the local MP for Beverley and Holderness constituency, Professor Bandeira from Leeds University Politics Department and a specialist in Parliament who assists the Petitions Committee in the House of Commons and Lord Norton, Professor of Government at Hull University and a member of the House of Lords.
The Edexcel ‘ A’ level course focuses on 3 areas of Politics: UK Politics, Comparative Politics and Political Ideas. It is assessed through 3 exam papers taken at the end of the two year course.
A central part of the course at A level is learning about and analysing UK politics. We study voting behaviour and the electoral system and how this determines the type of governments that are elected. We examine how decisions have been made and who makes them and how laws come into being through Parliament. We also explore the ways in which people can organize and put pressure on those in power. In this way we consider the rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups. We consider whether we have a healthy democracy and where power and influence really lies in British politics – is it with the politicians, the voters or with more unaccountable and unrepresentative groups and organizations such as big businesses and the media? Does Parliament work or does it need changing? Does the Prime Minister have too much or too little power? How does government operate in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and at a local level? What impact has devolution had on UK politics as a whole? What is our relationship with Europe and how has this impacted on us, our politics and how will this change in the future? All of this is set in a wider overview of history and how things like the right to vote and the exercise of power has changed and evolved over time. Politics is dynamic and awareness that it is not a fixed process but constantly in flux is essential. Being prepared to share your own views on many challenging and sometimes controversial issues will make for great discussion and enhanced understanding of the topics being studied.
Students will study US Politics, drawing a comparison as such with UK politics and the operation of government. We study the American political system and consider the political parties, American pressure groups, the elections and voting behaviour. We consider civil rights in the US and put all of these into the framework of government, by studying the Constitution, the Legislature (Congress), the Executive (the Presidency) and the Judiciary (Supreme Court). The issues in American politics often differ greatly to those in Britain and discussions on many topical issues such as gun control, the death penalty, freedom of speech and abortion make for challenging and interesting analysis.
There may be an option to study Global Politics as the comparative study which would involve examining theories about how states operate in the world, their power and how they exercise it and the range of political and economic problems facing the globe, such as climate change and terrorism. This involves researching into the role of the United Nations, NATO, EU, IMF and other such intergovernmental organisations. Similarly, there is a focus on international justice and the development of human rights and the complicating factors facing developing states in an increasingly globalised world.
This section of the course focuses on the core political ideas underpinning Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism and how key thinkers have developed political ideologies that have evolved and changed over time e.g. Locke and Rawls, Hobbes and Nozik, Marx and Giddens.
In addition to these core ideologies, students will be able to choose one ideology from a wide range of political ideas: Anarchism, Ecologism, Feminism, Multiculturalism, and Nationalism.
How does Politics fit with other subject choices?
A course in Government and Politics will be of benefit to any Post-16 student, but it will be of particular interest to pupils also studying, or interested in, History, Law, Psychology, Geography, Media Studies, Religion and Philosophy, and Sociology.
What degree course or career will it lead to?
Government and Politics provides an excellent basis for many subjects at degree level and as an academic subject it is very highly regarded by universities, including the Russell Group of Universities. It is a useful qualification for any career as the skills developed from: debating and discussion, learning to write structured and convincing arguments, producing presentations on complex issues and analysing a wide range of information, data and statistics provide students with invaluable workplace skills. Careers in Politics, Law, Business, Teaching, Local Government and a wide range of other professions are just some of the possibilities open to students that study this course.