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Government and Politics A Level at St John Fisher Catholic High School

Course description

The AS course involves the study of Politics today in the UK: how the UK is governed and what powers politicians have over our lives. We focus on how citizens respond to Politics, either through involvement in Political Parties or Pressure Groups, by voting or even being alienated from society. There is some comparative work with the USA system of Government and the impact the EU has had on the UK.

This is an invaluable course for improving your ability to analyse, argue and make judgements. In the 21st century employers and Higher Education institutes are looking to attract people with thinking and communication skills: Government and Politics enables you to broaden these skills.

Course content


Unit 1: People and Politics
This unit looks at four key areas: Democracy, Elections, Political Parties and Pressure Groups. How people take part in politics is a theme that runs through the course. Students explore how effectively democracy functions, how well different election systems work, the ideas and policies of the main political parties, and the ways in which pressure groups provide an outlet for political activity. The emphasis is on what is happening in UK politics today.

Unit 2: Governing the UK
This unit explores the workings of some of the key political institutions in the UK, including Parliament, the Civil Service, the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It also explores the Constitution and how it might be reformed. An important concept is that of sovereignty, which looks at where political power in the UK is located. Again, the emphasis is on current UK politics.
Both units are examined in the summer of Year 12 in a 1 hour 20 minute paper for each unit. The exams consist of a range of short and long answer questions.


Unit 3: Key UK Political Issues: Economy, Welfare State, Law and Order and Environmental Policy.

Students build on their work from AS Level to look at four issues in UK politics: the Economy, Welfare State, Law and Order, and Environment. Each of these topics is explored in considerable detail, with the emphasis being on the political dimension of each area. The background of each topic is taught first, but the main focus is on current party policies and the political debates between (and sometimes within) political parties.

Unit 4: Key EU and European Issues

Students explore how the EU has developed into its current form. This covers the major reform Treaties and the functions / powers of the key EU institutions. The impact of the EU on the UK is also looked at. Among other things the nature of different viewpoints on Europe (pro-EU versus Euro-scepticism) is explored. This topic is relevant for anyone who wants to understand more about the ongoing crisis in the EU and what the future holds.

Unit 3 and Unit 4 are examined in the summer of Year 13. Both exams are 1½ hours long and consist of short answer questions and essays.

Entry requirements

The majority of students come to this subject with no previous academic experience of studying Politics. It is preferable for students to have a Grade B or above in either English or History, although this is not a strict criteria. We stress the importance of students following current affairs as they develop during the one or two years of study. Enthusiasm is as important as previous study and those students who engage fully with the news find the course most rewarding.

Future opportunities

Government and Politics is an excellent foundation to any future degree course in related subjects such as International Politics or Comparative Studies. It is also an excellent subject to support any Humanities or Arts subject, or it can give breadth to a Science application. Students considering careers in the Legal System, Public Sector or Armed Services are recommended to study Politics.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St John Fisher Catholic High School directly.

Last updated date: 06 July 2015

Key information