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Goverment and Politics A Level at Congleton High School

Course description

Politics might seem like a dry subject, but once you start to think about what MPs actually do all day, it isn’t. Anyone concerned about the stories behind the news will be interested in studying politics. Law and order, levels of unemployment, immigration, the education system, the use of Britain’s armed forces, are just a few of the problems that our politicians wrestle with on a daily basis. If you care about these, this course is for you.

Studying politics will involve a variety of methods including class discussions, group work, individual research, and presentations. However the real world of politics changes almost daily and students will need to read well beyond a text book. Taking an active and critical interest in real world current affairs is crucial to achieving a strong grade.

The most successful politics students are those who critically consider a range of ideas and not just their own. Politics will help you to debate competing interpretations of the ways in which the world is organised and problems within it. You will learn to defend your views whilst listening and responding to opposing ideas. The best politics students do not rush to superficial judgement, but consider the deeper implications of people’s actions and beliefs. The career skills developed through the study of Politics include: reasoned argument and debate; presenting your case; and making considered judgements.

Course content

At Congleton High School we follow the Edexcel syllabus. This covers both the theory of politics and how Britain is governed on a daily basis. We currently study the following units;

Unit 1 – People and Politics
This unit will introduce you to the fundamentals of what politics is all about. We begin by discussing democracy itself and how it operates in the real world. We then study the advantages and problems of the wider use of referendums in the UK before moving on to the origins, history and traditions of the main UK political parties. The vexed questions of the fairness of various electoral systems are then considered, before we finish with a study of the role and influence of pressure groups in the UK.

Unit 2 – Governing the UK
Once students have a good grounding of the theory of politics, we move on to investigate how it operates in practice in the UK. What is the UK constitution, and how effective is it? How does parliament operate and is it in need of reform? What makes a good or bad prime minister? Do judges and the law courts have too much power over parliament? Both units 1 and 2 are assessed by an exam at the end of year 12 giving students an AS Level qualification. They then have the option of completing units 3 & 4 to gain a full A Level.

Unit 3 – Introducing Political ideologies
Year 13 studies begin with a fundamental investigation into four key political ideologies; liberalism, socialism, conservativism and anarchism. How, why and where did these ideas originate? How well have they worked in practice? Are they still valid ideas today and do they have a place in the 21st century?

Unit 4 – Other ideological traditions The course concludes with an exploration of political ideologies outside of the mainstream. Nationalism, feminism, ecologism and multiculturalism are all considered. Do they offer a workable alternative to the ways in which societies are currently organised? Are they a coherent and valid set of ideas or the stuff of dreams?

Both units 3 and 4 are examined by a 1 hour 30 minute exam at the end of Year 13.

Entry requirements

To study this course, It is recommended that you should have achieved at least a grade B in GCSE History and/or English.

Assessment

Studying politics will involve a variety of methods including class discussions, group work, individual research, and presentations. However the real world of politics changes almost daily and students will need to read well beyond a text book. Taking an active and critical interest in real world current affairs is crucial to achieving a strong grade.

Assessment will be continual with formal assessments in the shape of essays and examinations.

Future opportunities

Politics is a subject that can be taken further should you make a move into higher education. It can be studied as a subject in its own right, but is also often offered as a joint honours course alongside History, Law, International Relations and other humanities subjects.

How about careers? Clearly not everyone can become an MP overnight, however there are career paths such as political researchers, civil servants and campaigning groups which value the skills you will acquire during A Level studies. The ability to evaluate evidence and then produce a coherent and sustained argument is a core skill in many professions. Politics also allows access to many different careers including; public relations, journalism, law, the media, finance and business.

Further information

This course can be taken in conjunction with other vocational or academic courses at Congleton High School Sixth Form or The Congleton College. Politics combines well with many subjects, but particularly complements History, Law, Economics, Sociology and psychology. However Politics is an interest in its own right and can be studied with any combination of subjects at A Level.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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