A Level Politics

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

Politics students are expected to be aware of subsequent developments, such as results of general elections, the appointment of new Prime Ministers, the impact of minority, coalition and majority governments, and the election of new US Presidents, with Brexit falling into the same category. In 2019, Boris Johnson won an election victory with a surprisingly large majority and proceeded to ‘get Brexit done’, while Donald Trump survived his impeachment and trial to carry on as the 45th president of the USA. However, it still took the UK until 31 January 2020 to exit formally from the EU. Why did the June 2016 decision take so long to be finalised? In many senses Brexit is the biggest political event in recent history, and therefore EU remains a key contemporary political issue.

Moreover, the Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives and made narrow gains in the Senate in the 2018 mid-term elections. What does this show us about the state of dysfunctional, partisan and polarised American Politics? Both Johnson and Trump were elected with less than 50% of the popular vote which illustrates one of the main problems with using the Post electoral system. With an increase in voter apathy and the polarising politics of populism and nationalism, it will be interesting to see how the Conservative government having such a large parliamentary majority handles the new political landscape from Brexit negotiations and domestic policies to calls for another independence referendum for Scotland.

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 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?

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 

To be confirmed at start of course

UK Government and Politics: Edexcel AS - A level
By N. McNaughton
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471889318

US Government and Politics for A level
By A. J. Bennett
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471889363

Political Ideas for A level
By N. McNaughton
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471889462 

Edexcel GCE Politics AS and A level Student Book and eBook
By G. Goodlad
Published by Pearson, ISBN 978-1292187020 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: Pearson Edexcel 9PL0

 

Samuel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations)

I have really enjoyed my time MPW and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."

Mark

Grades achieved at MPW
AAB

Progressed to
Southampton University (Business Innovation)

The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of MPW were fully met.

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.”