Politics A Level at The Harvey Grammar School
Examining Board: EDEXCEL, Head of Department: Mr M Duncan
The general aim of this course is to enable you to understand, analyse and evaluate the workings of the UK and US political systems, as well as the political ideologies of liberalism, conservatism, socialism and feminism. Students with an interest in current affairs and who are keen to discuss controversial issues will find the course particularly stimulating. It will require a great deal of keeping up with current events outside of the classroom – so those with a particular enthusiasm for politics should apply.
Students will study current systems of direct and representative democracy, the expansion of suffrage in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the work of the suffragettes, pressure groups and other influences, and the development of rights in Britain. They will then investigate the UK’s established, emerging and minor political parties, and the development of the UK’s multi-party system. After this, students are introduced to different electoral systems, analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and considering the impact of referendums since 1997. Finally, students consider factors influencing voting behaviour and the influence of the media, studying three election case studies – one from 1945-92, the 1997 election, and one since 1997.
Students will study the nature and sources of the UK constitution, including how it has changed since 1997, the impact of devolution, and debates on further reform. They will then investigate the UK Parliament, including the structure and role of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, how Parliament interacts with the Executive, and the complexities of the legislative process. After this, students are introduced to the role and powers of the Prime Minister and Executive, considering the role of the Cabinet in dictating events and determining policy. Finally, students consider relations between institutions, investigating the UK Supreme Court, the locations of sovereignty, and the impact of the European Union.
Political Ideologies (conservatism and liberalism)
Students will study the core ideas and principles of conservatism and liberalism and how they relate to human nature, the state, society and the economy. They will then investigate the differing views and tensions within conservatism (traditional, one-nation, New Right) and liberalism (classical, modern), and the key ideas of conservative thinkers (Thomas Hobbes, Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick) and liberal thinkers (John Locke, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Betty Friedan).
Political Ideologies (socialism and feminism)
Students will study the core ideas and principles of socialism and feminism and how they relate to human nature, the state, society and the economy. They will then investigate the differing views and tensions within socialism (revolutionary, social democracy, Third Way) and feminism (liberal, socialist, radical, post-modern) and the key ideas of socialist thinkers (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Beatrice Webb, Rosa Luxemburg, Anthony Crosland and Anthony Giddens) and feminist thinkers (Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Simone de Beauvoir, Kate Millett, Sheila Rowbotham and Bell Hooks).
Government and Politics of the USA and comparative theories
Students will study the nature and principles of the US Constitution and the main characteristics of US federalism. They will then investigate the structure of Congress (House and Senate) and how far it adequately fulfils its representative role. After this,
students are introduced the US presidency, and are asked to consider the sources and extent of presidential power and accountability. Next, students study the nature and role of the US Supreme Court, the protection of civil liberties and rights (including
the role of race in contemporary US politics), and the extent of the Court’s power. Students then study the US electoral system, the key ideas and principles of the Democratic and Republican parties, and the importance of interest groups. Finally, students
must study comparative theory – rational, cultural and structural – and apply this to an extended comparison of the UK and USA constitutions, legislative branches, executive branches, judicial branches, and party systems.
Entry Criteria: GCSE grade 5 in English (Language or Literature).
Plus: GCSE grade 5 in Mathematics
There are three examinations at the end of Year 13, each lasting two hours. The examinations are mostly centred around extended writing, with each examination including two 30-mark essay questions and either a 24-mark essay question or two 12-mark short essay questions. There is no coursework in A Level Politics.
Many of our Politics students also choose to study History which fits particularly well as part of an A level programme. However, Politics also fits well with subjects such as English, French, Geography and Economics. It has formed a useful part of Maths/Science-based courses for many students. Government and Politics at A Level is a good choice for anyone considering law, research, politics, data analysis and journalism.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Harvey Grammar School directly.