What does democracy really mean?
How powerful are Prime Ministers?
In the light of Brexit, or of President Trump's election victory, can we be trusted to govern ourselves or should others make decisions on our behalf?
What is freedom? Do we have it? How can we change our lives for the better?
If you take an interest in these sorts of questions, read the news and enjoy heated debate, then Politics is for you! In Politics we study, applaud and challenge the institutions, systems and ideologies we have created to govern ourselves.
If current affairs interest you, if you have a point of view and are not afraid to share it, and you want to keep yourself informed about recent political developments, this course looks to entertain, inform, and educate you further.
Studies involve significant reading and writing, and a constant interest in contemporary political developments. Classroom debate develops your sophisticated, informed and independently minded ideas and position on the ever-changing world of political intrigue.
This subject combines well with other essay based A levels like English and History where there is an emphasis on clear written communication, evaluation and analysis. In addition, subjects like Economics, Geography, Philosophy, Law and Sociology include elements of political knowledge or where an awareness of political concepts is useful.
However, the key consideration is whether you want to immerse yourself in a study of 2 years of British and American politics or not. If yes, vote Politics!
Year 1 and Year 2 Units
Unit 1:UK Politics
Democracy and participation, political parties, electoral systems, voting behaviour and the Media.
Core ideologies: liberalism, conservatism, socialism
Unit 2:UK Government
Composition, role and power of the executive and legislative branches; the judiciary, constitution, relationship between the branchesOptional ideology: anarchism
Unit 3:US/UK comparative politics
The US Constitution and Federalism, Congress, The Presidency, Supreme Court and Rights, Elections, Political Parties and Pressure Groups.This unit also includes comparisons with UK Government and Politics
Students will have the opportunity to visit Parliament.
ITV Clip from St Brendan's about youth voting
During your 1st year, you will visit Westminster and be given a tour of the Houses of Parliament.
During your 2nd year you will have the opportunity to attend lectures and take part in a residential trip abroad. In the recent past students have attended a conference in Paris, and travelled to Washington DC.
Many speakers, including current MPs and Peers come and face question time from students. St Brendan's host hustings events that include representatives of all the major political parties when key political events take place.
You will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of political institutions, concepts and theories and be able to anlayse and evaluate political arguments and views.
The development of written communication in the form concise exam based essays is essential, as is the ability to construct written clear arguments using appropriate examples and advanced political language. You will be fully supported in developing these skills.
You can also expect to increase your confidence in IT. There are also opportunities to develop key skills in working with others, improving your own learning and performance, and problem solving.
Methods of Assessment
The assessment is based on timed written examination papers which include short answers, data response and extended essays. All 3 units of study are assessed by written examination at the end of the 2nd year.
Methods of Teaching and Learning
The course is taught by experienced, specialist members of staff. You are provided with textbooks and hand-outs for all topics. Teaching methods include lectures, case studies, discussions in large and small groups and some presentations. You will be expected to undertake background reading, complete tests, write regular essays and complete short answer and data response questions. Up to date revision material is issued throughout the course.
You will be provided with appropriate textbooks for class use for the course's duration, as well as revision guides and VLE resources. The journal Politics Review is available for you to use throughout your studies. The College Learning Resource Centre is very well stocked with relevant books and you are encouraged to make use of internal and external Internet resources.
A-level Politics provides a good basis for university degree courses in Political Studies, European Studies, Philosophy, Public Administration, Social Science, International Relations, Economics and Law. In addition, career prospects are opened up in local government departments, the civil service, the legal system, management, banking and finance, media, journalism and teaching.
There are no charges payable in connection with this course, except for any optional visits you may wish to take part in (e.g. Houses of Parliament trip). These will vary depending on the place and length of the educational visit.