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Government and Politics A level **FEES PAYABLE** at Blackheath High School

Course description

Government and Politics is a well-respected academic subject and fits particularly well with History, English, Economics and Business and Psychology but would be a good subject to choose alongside most others.  It gives you a very good understanding of the way politics works both in the UK but also the EU and the USA.  It develops excellent skills of analysis and argument construction and is a very good preparation for careers such as law, journalism and even teaching!  Politics is an ideal subject if you follow the news and have an interest in current affairs.

Course content

Unit 1 - People and Politics

This unit introduces students to the key channels of communication between government and the people and encourages them to evaluate the adequacy of existing arrangements for ensuring representative democracy and participation.

Key concepts that will be explored are:

  • Democracy - defining what we mean by democracy, looking at the different forms it takes and the strengths and waeknesses of our current system of democreacy in the UK.  We will also explore suggestions for reform such as lowering the voting age, making  more use of referenda and changing the way we vote.
  • Political Parties - what are political parties and what functions do they serve?  What are the traditions of political parties; what did they believe in the past, have their policies and principles changed and why?  How far do our political parties believe in similar things and does this matter?
  • Elections - how do elections work in the UK?  What different electroral systems do we use?  What are the key arguments for and against keeping our current electoral system?
  • Pressure Groups - what are they and what role do they serve in the UK?  What are the different types of pressure groups?  How much power do they have and how much should they have?

Unit 2: Governing the UK

This unit introduces students to the major governmental processes within the UK.  It encourages them to develop a critical understanding of the role and effectiveness of key institutions and the relationship amongst them in the context of multilevel governance.

Key concepts to be studied are:

  • The Constitution - what is the British Constitution and where can it be found?  How has the constitution changed over time and what are the main suggestions for how it could be changed in the future?
  • Parliament - how does Parliament work and does it work well enough?  How would things be different if we had a President? What is the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords?  Should Parliament be changed?
  • Prime Minister and Cabinet - what roles do the PM and the Cabinet have?  What 'rules' govern the way they operate? Where do Prime Ministers get their power from and why do different PMs seem to have different amounts of power?
  • Judges and Civil Liberties - what do we mean by the judiciary and how much power does it have?  Can Judges affect or control what the Government does?  What are our civil liberties and how well are they protected?

A2 Level Course content:

Unit 3 - Representative Processes in the USA

This topic looks at the representative processes of the US political system and considers their adequacy in terms of popular participation and full democracy.

Key areas of study are:

  • Elections - how do they work in the USA and what factors explain who wins and why?
  • Political Parties - what do the Democrat and Republican parties really stand for?  How strong and effective are political parties in the USA?
  • Pressure Groups - what are they and how important are they?  How do they influence decisions?
  • Racial and Ethnic Politics - what are the issues concerning civil rights?  How well are people represented and how successful have attempts been to reduce racial division in the US?

Unit 4 - Governing the USA

This topic examines the institutional framework of US government and considers the interrelationships between its legislative, executive and judicial processes and the health of US federalism.

Key areas of study are:

  • The US Constitution - how does it work, how well does it work and does it protect people's rights?
  • Congress - how does Congress work, what are the problems with it and can it stop the President from carrying out his wishes
  • Presidency - where does the President's power come from?  Why do some Presidents seem to have more power than others?
  • Supreme Court - how are Supreme Court judges appointed?  What is the role of the Supreme Court?

Entry requirements

At least a grade B in a literacy based subject such as History, RE, English Lit, Geography

A commitment to read a quality newspaper on a regular basis and to follow the political news on the BBC.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Blackheath High School directly.

Last updated date: 26 August 2016

Key information

  • Start date: Next September