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Sixth Form

Government and Politics

The Nature of the Course

The major themes of the course involve the central ideas of citizenship, democracy and participation through the study of political parties, pressure groups and elections.

In Paper 1 we look closely at the major institutions of UK government, examining their relationships with one another and considering their effectiveness. Aspects of government such as The Constitution, Parliament, the Prime Minister and Cabinet are all investigated. We will also look at Democracy and Participation; Elections and Referendum; Political Parties and Pressure Groups.

In Paper 2 students examine the representative processes of the US political system and consider their adequacy in terms of popular participation and full democracy. Students investigate elections and voting, political parties, pressure groups, and racial and ethnic politics as well as the institutional framework of US government, the inter-relationships of its legislative, executive and judicial processes and the health of US federalism. We also examine the Constitution and Supreme Court, the Congress, Presidency and Federal Bureaucracy, and investigate the nature of the federal system. Students also will study comparative politics so they can analyse the similarities and differences between the USA and UK.

In Paper 3 students will study four core ideologies: Liberalism; Conservatism; Socialism and Feminism. The study of Liberalism will require an understanding of Liberal ideas on human nature, the individual, welfare, the state, society and the economy. It will encompass tensions between classical and modern liberalism as well as neo-liberalism’s relationship to the New Right. We also look at the ideas of key liberal writers like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Mary Wollstonecraft and Betty Friedan.

Special Features

The main requirement is an interest in current affairs and politics but in addition we recommend a minimum of a Grade B in GCSE English as much of the course is essay based. Many students who take Politics have not done History but, where History has been taken, a Grade B at GCSE is indicative of possible future success at A Level.

Among the many skills developed by the A Level course are:

  • Comprehension, synthesis and interpretation
  • Analysis, prioritisation and evaluation
  • Selecting and organising relevant material to construct arguments
  • Effective communication
  • Good English skills
  • Research skills

Skills Demanded and Developed

The main requirement is an interest in current affairs and politics but in addition we recommend a minimum of a B in GCSE English as much of the course is essay based. Many students take politics who have not done History, but where History has been taken we would again recommend a B at GCSE is desirable to ensure success at A-Level.

Among the many skills developed by the A level are:

  • comprehension, synthesis and interpretation
  • analysis and evaluation
  • selecting and organising relevant material to construct arguments
  • effective communication
  • good English skills
  • research skills

Careers and Higher Education Implications

Politics sits well with both science and arts based subjects. It offers breadth to a student’s Sixth Form studies and flexibility in career options. The essay writing and analytical skills developed are highly valued by universities and it provides a good support for many different degrees courses. The up-to-date nature of the subject means that students are in touch with the world in which they live and it develops good debating and communication skills.

Politics is a highly respected A Level and students studying Politics have been successful in obtaining places on prestigious Politics courses, including students currently at both Oxford and Cambridge, as well as other very well respected degree courses.

Strong A-Level Combinations

Possible Further Study and Degree Courses

English, History, Latin, Psychology, Philosophy and Ethics Law and International Relations, Journalism, Management and administration, Marketing
Geography, Biology Environmental work and pressure group politics
Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths Medicine, Health and Engineering Management
Economics, Business Social Science degrees, Management and Marketing
Languages Work in the EU, and for the EU

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