Politics involves studying the science of government and the practice of conducting political affairs. Since political structures and processes have a profound effect on people’s lives, they are well worth studying, and fit well with any other A level subject. We study British Politics in the first (AS) year and American Politics in the second (A2) year.
There are two modules studied in the first year. The first entitled ‘People, Politics and Participation’ looks at Political Parties in the UK, Electoral Systems, Voting Behaviour and Pressure Groups and Protest Movements. The second, entitled ‘Governing Modern Britain,’ looks at The British Constitution, Parliament and The Prime Minister and Cabinet. It also briefly examines Local Government and The European Union.
There are two assessed modules at AS, equally weighted, with each involving a one and a half hour exam and each source-based. The papers are both heavily essay based.
There are two modules. The first, entitled ‘The Politics of the USA’, echoes the AS module People/Politics only looking at America instead of the UK. The second, entitled ‘The Government of the USA’, again reflects the shape of the second AS module but looks at America.
There are two assessed modules at A2, each with a one and a half hour exam. There is no coursework and no internal assessment. The focus at A2 is much more on essay skills and discursive writing than at AS.
The course was initially developed under the aegis of the History Department but has recently been adopted by the Economics department. Politics A Level fits particularly well with History but also subjects such as Economics and Psychology, Religious Education and Philosophy. It can be taken as a one year AS Level contrasting with other A Levels (e.g. for a student studying three sciences) as well as the full two year course. It is expected that students will be taken on a visit to The House of Commons and Lords as part of the course and they will of course be encouraged to take an interest in contemporary political debate/current affairs. External speakers, especially MPs, Peers and journalists are invited in when relevant. It would be surprising if students did not read a newspaper.
Examining Board: AQA
Head of Department: Jonathan Selby