Government and Politics is not available at GCSE – so no student studying the subject at A Level will already have a qualification in the subject. All that you will therefore is a particular interest in current affairs, and a willingness to read newspaper articles, watch and listen to news and political programmes on all platforms of media and social media.
You do not have to be a political expert in order to study the subject – a curiosity to find out more is often a good starting point if you are considering Government & Politics as an option. This subject involves a lot of reading and written work. Most of the marks in the A Level examinations are awarded for questions that require long written answers.
THE GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS DEPARTMENT AT WYKE SIXTH FORM COLLEGE
The Government and Politics Department is staffed by highly-qualified and experienced teachers, who are committed to providing an excellent learning experience for students following the subject.
PAPER 1 – UK GOVERNMENT
In the first section of this module, you will examine how Britain is governed, including the role of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the functions of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
You will also look at the role of individual MPs and evaluate their powers and responsibilities. In addition, the course examines the nature and reform of the UK constitution, the role of the judiciary in the UK political system and devolution.
Also as part of Paper 1, you will study three core political ideologies – those of Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism. You will learn why these ideologies developed, what their main values and beliefs are and how they have impacted political parties and the countries in which they have been applied. This aspect of the module comprises 8% weighting overall
PAPER 2 – UK POLITICS
In the second paper of this A Level, you will examine the reasons why and how people participate in politics, and why others do not. You will closely analyse the many varied forms of political participation that are available to UK citizens.
You will also look at the different electoral systems in the UK and the ideologies, views and functions of political parties will be examined. You will then consider the activities and impact of pressure groups, and conclude with a study of the European Union.
In addition to the three core ideologies, you will study an optional ideology, Nationalism as our chosen ideology. This is an aspect of Paper 2 (with an 8% weighting).
PAPER 3 – COMPARATIVE POLITICS: USA
Section one covering the US government examines the working and amendment of the United States constitution. It also assesses and analyses the three branches of government, namely the Presidency (Executive branch), Congress (Legislative branch) and the Supreme Court (Judicial branch).
Section two covering US politics considers the electoral process and direct democracy. There is also an analysis of US voting behaviour. This module examines ideology and the political party system in the USA before moving on to the activities and significance of pressure groups with specific reference to the democratic process. This section concludes with an examination of Civil Rights in the USA.
Section three deals with comparative politics, where you will use what you have learned about the government and politics of the UK and the USA to draw comparisons and contrasts between the two systems. This aspect of the Government and Politics A Level has a 33% weighting overall.
HOW THE COURSE IS DELIVERED
There are four 70 minute sessions per week for each lesson of Government and Politics. You will be involved in a variety of activities within each lesson including written work and debate.
To enhance your understanding of UK Politics, you may have the benefit of visiting speakers, such as the local MP, a member of the House of Lords, or a lobbyist. In addition, Government and Politics students have the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. to support their studies of United States Government & Politics. This trip first ran in March 2014 and has ran annually since then.
Government and Politics students can also participate in our annual trip to Westminster, in which we visit the Houses of Parliament, and the UK Supreme Court, among the other many sights of London.
WHAT DOES THIS COURSE LEAD TO?
Many students who have taken the A Level in Government and Politics often become so enthusiastic about the subject that they go on to study Politics at university. In this respect the subject is one of the many humanity/social science subjects that enable students to progress to careers in the civil service, business and finance, the legal profession, public sector professions and journalism and the media more generally. Some former politics students have become researchers or joined local or national government. At least two former Wyke politics students have go on to become MPs, but none have become Prime Minister (so far).
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PREPARE ME FOR THE COURSE?
You could have a look in some newspapers and follow some political stories and see how they develop over a week or so. Tune in to news programmes such as Channel 4 News or Newsnight on BBC2. Both these programmes have excellent coverage of current affairs. The college has a number of open events where you can come along and find out more about the subject. Before you come to an open evening, think about the questions you want to ask and write them down just in case you forget them. You can also visit the Edexcel website as this the exam board that Wyke uses for teaching Government and Politics. You can follow the links, and find much useful information about the subject, including a student guide as well as a copy of the course details and past examination question papers and mark schemes.
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