Why Politics? You can take a Politics course without any previous knowledge, although most people already have ideas about the subject from television and newspapers. The AS course is based on current politics in Britain and the A2 course in the Upper Sixth is about both Britain and the U.S.A. They help explain many national and world events. Current and recent developments - like the fortunes of Obama’s presidency, the 2015 General Election, Cameron’s renegotiation of Britain’s position in the EU and controversy over the EU referendum - are all part of the courses.
Students who enjoy debating, take an interest in current affairs, like developing arguments on paper or have found a 20th century history course interesting will find that Politics may well be the right subject for them. It is important to like reading; articles and newspaper items form an important part of the course material, as well as textbooks and videos.
Many of the techniques are similar to those used in History and the subject matter fits well with Economics. It can also combine well with English, Geography or Business Studies. Politics will be relevant for careers in the media or law, however it also provides useful knowledge for a wide variety of jobs in business. The types of analysis involved help to prepare students for a range of university courses and professional or managerial jobs.
The AS course is based on British politics, including a study of Britain’s relations with the E.U. The full A Level in the Upper Sixth continues with a course based on American politics and comparisons between how Britain and the U.S.A. are governed.
Both the British and American courses start by examining how the country is governed: the British Parliament, Cabinet and Premiership and the American Congress and Presidency. Students investigate how power is distributed between these, how British ministers try to control Parliament and American Presidents work with Congress, how policies are made, how civil servants carry them out and how varied pressure groups such as trade unions, Greenpeace or animal rights organisations gain influence. The course also examines how people can take part in politics. Course topics include the impact of newspapers and television and election campaigns. There is an investigation of political parties, their beliefs, policies, how they are run and who has power in them. There are also some opportunities to hear leading politicians and writers at Sixth Form conferences in London.
Exam questions include some shorter ones based on extracts from political articles or tables and some involving longer, more developed arguments about government and political issues.
Several politics students have gone on to study the subject at university, although it also leads on well to a variety of arts or business courses. The opportunities for varied types of writing and the range of issues examined for Politics A Level are valuable for a large number of university courses and careers.
A Level Government and Politics
OCR A Level Government and Politics consists of four units of study:
- Unit 1 Politics of the UK
- Unit 2 Government of the UK
- Unit 3 Contemporary US Government
- Unit 4 Synoptic Paper linked to US Government
How the course is taught
You will have two subject teachers during both the Lower and Upper Sixth years. Lessons involve explanation, questioning and discussion on topics with occasional role plays, debates and tests.
You need to read and research topics throughout the course using textbooks, academic articles and newspaper items which you will be given. You must also keep up-to-date with current political news and be able to use information when you write.
Students investigate some key political terms and political party policies and should look at major news developments during the summer before they start the A Level course.
A minimum grade B in English Language and in History is required. If you have not taken History, you need a B in English Literature.