A Level Politics

 

What is it about at sixth form level?

In the General Election of 2015, the SNP won just under 1.5 million votes and won 56 seats. The Liberal Democrats obtained nearly 2.5 million seats and won eight seats. UKIP won close to 4 million votes and a single seat. Many hold this result up as a sign of the bankruptcy of the ‘old system’, one in which power would swing between two parties. Issue-based politics and the rise of nationalism mean that people are identifying with newer parties or not with any one party at all. At the same time, one in three eligible voters didn’t vote. What does this say about politics and the health of our democracy in Britain in the 21st century?

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 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 two units. In Unit 1 (People and 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 and finally, you will also look at the electoral systems used in the UK and how they work. In Unit 2 (Governing the UK), the focus is on the constitution, parliament, prime minister and cabinet, judges and civil liberties. You will consider such matters as the reform of the House of Lords, the role and powers of the prime minister and individual rights.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will study the second half of Unit 2 by looking at the three core “isms” of socialism, conservatism and liberalism and one of anarchism, ecologism, feminism, multiculturalism or nationalism. You will also have the choice of studying either US politics or global politics for Unit 3. The former will invite you to look at the Constitution and federalism,
Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, civil rights, democracy and participation. The latter will look at issues to do with sovereignty and globalisation, global governance: political and economic, global governance.

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 in which you explain and assess complex ideas through constructing clear and precise arguments. 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 strong interest in current affairs. The course involves a lot of reading and writing, so you should have good communication skills. All students are expected to read widely, including a daily newspaper as well as periodicals such as The Politics Review and the New Statesman.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The A level is assessed by two examinations. The first paper is on Unit 1 and the second on the first half of Unit 2. Each paper lasts 1 hour 45 minutes and is worth 50% of the AS level.

A level

The A level is assessed by three examinations on the three units. Each paper is lasts 2 hours and is worth 33% of the A level.

Reading

AS UK Government and Politics
By P. Fairclough et al
Published by Philip Allan, ISBN 978-1444183528

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

Political Ideologies
By A. Heywood
Published by Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0230367258

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson-Edexcel 8PL1, A2: Pearson-Edexcel 9PL0

 

John Cameron
Head of Department

Tiffany

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."

Oliver

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."

Nathaniel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."

Ella

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."

Chris

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."