A Level Politics

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

Two of the most momentous decisions in recent political history have both been decided at the ballot box. In June 2016, the Brexit campaign victory opened the way for the UK’s departure from the European Union; and, in November of the same year, Republican candidate Donald Trump was voted in as the 45th President of the USA. Yet, the winning Brexit popular vote was of 52% of 72% of those eligible to vote; and the Republican victory, in the US’s ‘first past the post’ system, only required 46% (2% or 3 million votes fewer than obtained by the Democratic candidate) of the 58% of Americans who could have voted. What do such statistics tell us about the legitimacy of these two different forms of electoral process and which, if any, is the more ‘democratic’.

By studying Politics at A level, you will become equipped to address questions like these with the care that they deserve. Politics is an academically rigorous subject in which you will learn both political concepts and the structure of the British and US political system. You will look at a range of political ideologies and political issues that are of global concern. The course will leave you with a clear understanding of the importance of politics in a time when political apathy is on the rise.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will be studying one complete unit and half of a second unit. In Unit 1 (UK Politics), you will start by looking at democracy and participation. Can we enhance participation, perhaps by lowering the voting age? You will then look at political parties: their changing identities and role in our political system. The role of pressure groups will be discussed as well as voter behaviour and finally, you will also look at the electoral systems used in the UK and how they work. You will also study Unit 2 on UK Government, focussing on the constitution, parliament including the House of Lords, Prime Minister and the cabinet and the relationship between these branches. You will further engage with the core ideas of liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism, as well as options such as Anarchism.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will move on to the Unit 3 option of US Government and Politics. This will invite you to look at the Constitution and Federalism, Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, civil rights, democracy and participation. Discussion on the interaction between these branches of the executive, as well as with wider US society, will draw on both historic cases and current affairs.

Why study it and what Why study it and what skills does it develop

Whilst not a prerequisite, an A level in Politics is excellent preparation for pursuing the subject at degree level. It fits well with other humanities subjects, especially PPE, English, and Politics and International Relations. It develops your analytical and critical skills and will teach you how to write essays which highlight and illustrate the complex overlap and interplay among various ideologies. It will enhance your knowledge of the world around you and give you a deeper understanding of what it is to be a citizen.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You should have a keen interest in current affairs as well as in the politics of the recent past. The course involves a lot of reading and writing, so you should have good communication skills. All students are expected to read widely from the daily press to periodicals such as The Politics Review.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The AS level is assessed by two examinations, Units 1 and 2. Each paper lasts 2 hours and is worth 50% of the AS level.

A level

The A level is assessed by three examinations on the three respective units. Each paper lasts 2 hours and each is worth a third of the overall A level.

Reading 

Essentials of UK Politics
By A. Heywood
Published by Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0230285620

Edexcel Government and Politics for AS
By N. McNaughton
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1444178807

Modern Political Ideologies
By A. Vincent
Published by Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1405154956

 

A2 US Government and Politics
By A.J. Bennett
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1444183540

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson Edexcel 8PL0, A level: Pearson Edexcel 9PL0

 

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”

Gabriel

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”