What does democracy really mean? How powerful are Prime Ministers? Can we be trusted to govern ourselves or should others make decisions on our behalf? Why have some governments handled the pandemic well, and others have not? Why do some Prime Ministers stay in power despite obvious mistakes in their leadership and governance?
If you take an interest in these sorts of questions, read the news and enjoy a heated debate, then Politics is for you!
In Politics we study and criticise the institutions, systems and ideologies that govern us.
You will focus on the government and politics of the UK and core and optional political ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, conservatism and anarchism. You will consider important concepts such as democracy, power and influence. You will learn how Parliament works and why some are now calling for big changes to the system.
As we analyse the fallout from party gate and Johnson, and the Post-Brexit and Post-Covid UK, we will ask ourselves what future the two main parties have, whether Scotland will ever achieve an independence referendum in the UK, what the long term impact of Covid-19 will be on the economy and society, and whether 16 year olds should get the vote.
A fascinating part of the course is the questioning of an MP or a peer that takes place yearly when we either visit the Houses of Parliament in Westminster or welcome politicians into our classrooms.
During your second year you will study the government and politics of the USA and engage in comparative politics with the UK. You will explore the nature of the American Constitution, the ideology of America’s political parties, the influence of pressure groups, voting behaviour, the power of the President, and the role of race and ethnic politics. We will analyse the 2020 election and explore the Trump phenomenon, and why there has been a collapse of centrist politics in the USA.
Specification – Edexcel (Pearson) units of study (each unit represents 33.3% of the overall exam award)
Unit 1: Politics of the UK
• Democracy and participation
• Political Parties
• Voting Behaviour and Media
• Electoral System
Students will study core ideologies: Liberalism, Conservatism, Socialism
Unit 2: Government of the UK
• The Constitution
• Prime Minister & Executive
• Relationships Between the Branches
Students will also be able to study options ideologies: Feminist, Ecologism, Nationalism, Multiculturalism, Anarchism. We have chosen Anarchism as the optional ideology.
Unit 3: Government and Politics of the USA (Comparative USA & UK)
• Supreme Court
• Civil Rights
• Democracy & Participation
Students will also analyse key similarities and differences between the USA and UK.
The course is taught by well-qualified and experienced staff, and students are provided with handouts for all topics. Teaching methods include lectures, case studies, discussions in large and small groups and presentations by students. Students are expected to undertake background reading, keep a weekly news diary, write regular essays and short answers. Up to date study material is issued throughout the course.
Methods of Assessment
The assessment is based on three timed written examination papers which are essay based. Each exam is 2 hours long and all exams are taken at the end of the second year of study. Each exam is worth 84 marks.
Year 12 students usually visit Westminster in the summer of year 12, there will be some optional events for year 13 students.
Many speakers, including MPs and House of Lords peers, come and face question time from the students. Last year we met with and interrogated MPs and the Mayor of Bristol.
We have also attended webinars and conferences.
Students can expect to develop their key skills in communication (especially verbal debating and written arguments) and IT. Students will have opportunities to develop their key skills in working with others, improving their own learning and performance, and problem-solving.
Students are provided with appropriate textbooks to use in the classroom, revision guides and VLE resources through VLE books. The College Library is well stocked with relevant books and students are encouraged to make use of internal and external Internet resources such as Seneca Learning.
There is a compulsory trip to the Houses of Parliament which takes place every summer of year 12. Charges are approximately £20.
This trip is subsidized for bursary students (financial assistance is available through the College Bursary Scheme).
A-level Politics provides a good basis for university degree courses in Politics and International Relations, Philosophy, Public Administration, Social Science, Economics and Law.
In addition, career prospects are opened up in local government departments, the civil service, the legal system, media, management and teaching.
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