With an incredible series of unexpected and unpredictable events at home and abroad in recent years, the study of Politics has never been more relevant or more fascinating and it’s a great subject for those with enquiring minds and a desire to find out just what is going on in the world today and why.
A level Politics is divided into a number of components covering a broad spectrum of political themes:
UK Politics and UK Government: You will study and discuss such questions as ‘What is Brexit all about and why is it happening?’, ‘What powers does the Prime Minister have?’, and ‘Is Britain truly democratic?’
Political Ideas: You will examine some of the great ideas that have shaped our world for good or ill, including Liberalism, Socialism, and Conservatism; and at the work and influence of key political thinkers such as Karl Marx, Mary Wollstonecraft and Edmund Burke.
Comparative Politics: You will also have the opportunity to compare and contrast UK politics with either US politics or Global Politics. Find out the answers to questions like ‘How did Donald Trump become President?’, ‘Why it so easy to have a gun in the USA?’, ‘Why is race such a big issue in America?’ or ‘How has globalisation impacted the world?’
Will this subject suit me?
A level Politics involves a lot of discussion, so is ideal for those who enjoy talking and thinking about current affairs. You will also need to keep up-to-date with what is happening in the world via the internet, newspapers and TV programmes, and will need to engage in independent learning to increase your knowledge of politics past and present. An interest in current affairs is perhaps the most important requirement as it is very beneficial to be able to bring at least some existing knowledge of political events and personalities to your studies. Some knowledge of history can also be helpful as so much of contemporary politics is informed by past events and decisions. If you enjoyed Ethics and RS you will also enjoy utilising your critical thinking and debating skills to compare political ideology. You will need a good level of English in order to deal with the essay writing demands of the course.
The Politics A level is assessed at the end of the course through three exams.
Paper 1: UK Politics and Core Political Ideas: This paper lasts two hours and requires you to answer two 30 mark essay questions on UK Politics topics including Democracy and Participation, Political Parties, Electoral Systems, and Voting Behaviour and the Media. You will also answer a 24 mark short essay question on either Liberalism, Conservatism or Socialism.
Paper 2: UK Government and Non-core Political Ideas: This paper lasts two hours and requires you to answer two 30 mark essay questions on UK Government topics including the Constitution, Parliament, the Prime Minister, and Relations between Political Institutions. You will also answer a 24 mark short essay question on either Anarchism, Nationalism, Feminism, Ecologism or Multi-culturalism.
Paper 3: Comparative Politics: This paper lasts two hours and requires you to answer two short 12 mark questions comparing US/Global politics with UK Politics, and two 30 mark essay questions on US/Global Politics content.
US Politics Content - The US Constitution and federalism/US Congress/US presidency/US Supreme Court and US civil rights/US democracy and participation/Comparative theories
Global Politics Content - The state and globalisation/Global governance: political and economic/Global governance: human rights and environmental/Power and developments/Regionalism and the European Union/Comparative theories.
There is no coursework but the final exams for Politics are heavily essay based and you will get a lot of practice in researching and writing answers to sample exam questions.
English Language and Literature at GCSE at Grade 5 or above.
Politics is a well-regarded A level on a par with Psychology and Sociology, and will help to provide you with many of the skills required for university study. A Politics A level is not required to study the subject at degree level but many Politics students enjoy the subject so much that they continue their studies at undergraduate level or in related subjects such as International Relations. A-level politics could also lead you to university degree courses in sociology, ethics, philosophy, advertising, media studies or journalism A-level politics presents you as a person who can rationally debate, understands the needs of the UK, how the country is run and what affects it. It also demonstrates you can look at arguments with an empathetic but level-headed view and with great social knowledge. You will be a strong candidate for jobs in politics, international organisations, the media, civil service, journalism, academic teaching and research.