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Government and Politics

Why Study Government and Politics?

The political landscape has never been more unpredictable than at the present time with old assumptions and institutions under challenge from the rise of populism with its profound conse-quences both in the UK and USA. Politics should appeal to anyone who is interested in the struc-tures of authority and power within British society and the USA. The course provides pupils with a clear understanding of the theories, motives and values that underpin political processes and governmental decision-making. It also examines the role of key institutions in the UK and the US exploring how they resolve conflicts, allocate limited resources and respond to changing politi-cal behaviour. In addition pupils will explore the key ideologies which have shaped the polity of the UK and the USA and the key thinkers who have developed political thought and discourse in the areas of conservatism, liberalism, socialism and feminism.

Entry Requirements

Grade 6 in GCSE History or Geography and Grade 6
English Language.

Course Outline

The A-level course comprises three modules: each equally weighted and assessed by a written examination.

Component 1: UK Politics & Core Political Ideas

This unit introduces pupils to the study of politics by looking at the central ideas of citizen-ship, democracy and participation by examining the role and development of Parties, Pressure Groups, the Electoral System and Referendums. Pupils will learn about the traditional political ideas of Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism, how they apply in practice to human nature, the state, society and the economy, the divisions within each idea and their key thinkers.

Component 2: UK Government & Non-core Political Ideas

This unit examines the functioning of the constitution, the role and significance of Parliament, the power of the executive and the effectiveness of the courts in protecting civil liberties. Pupils will learn about the political idea of Feminism, its core ideas and principles, the divisions and key thinkers.

Component 3: The USA & Comparative Politics

This module involves a study of the US Constitution and federalism, Congress, the Presiden-cy and the Supreme Court. In addition issues of civil rights, democracy and participation are covered. The comparative element examines rational, cultural and structural approaches to ex-plaining similarities and differences in the government and politics of different countries with a comparison of the main features of the UK and US systems.

Course Delivery

During the course Pupils will learn to analyse rhetoric, to weigh evidence against opinion and to understand how people’s lives as citizens are affected by political activity. We aim to develop a critical awareness of political events and issues and an empathetic understanding of the main political viewpoints as well as studying the key ideologies which have helped to shape the world we live in.

Through essay writing and documentary analysis you will develop the skills required to argue a case with relevance and coherence: valuable assets in a wide range of professional managerial and business fields. In short, this course is both an academic discipline and a preparation for effective participation in society.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

The first year of a Politics degree will often involve an introduction to international relations, political science, political systems and institutions and comparative politics. Pupils will exam-ine domestic politics in various nations and draw parallels. The following years may involve the study of topics like political protest, political violence, gender in politics, global security, war and terrorism, empire, environmental politics, politics of asylum, states and markets, parliamen-tary studies and the role of non-governmental organisations like the United Nations, Internation-al Monetary Fund and World Bank. Many choose to study individual ideologies, such as Marxism or liberalism, or countries’ journeys through particular periods of history, like South Africa since apartheid, Russia since the Cold War or post-war Germany; or individual parties and their evolu-tion, like the rise of New Labour.

The transferable skills a Politics degree develops are in high demand. Politics graduates have a wide variety of career choices and will gain the understanding required to work in almost any industry. The transferrable skills acquired in the course of a politics degree include the ability to think critically, conduct research thoroughly and communicate effectively. Some eventually become MPs, starting off as parliamentary researchers, special advisors, or civil servants. Other graduates pursue careers in public affairs, marketing, media and communications, business, finance, and human resources, with many working for supranational organisations. Whilst some will go on to work in think tanks, pressure groups and charities.