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Department Vision

The study of A Level Government and Politics develops critical thinking skills and requires students to present a range of complicated information clearly and succinctly for others to understand. The study of A Level Government and Politics will enable students to progress to a variety of higher education courses and has links to a number of undergraduate degree courses including Politics, Law, History, Economics, Sociology and Philosophy. The A Level Government and Politics course will help to develop a range of skills that are useful in a number of careers such as journalism, national and local government, the Civil Service, education and the legal system.

Politics provides a challenging treatment of the ways in which modern political science and political theory have understood a range of contemporary issues and debates. We take a global approach to politics which gives students the opportunity to analyse the complex events and forces that shape our world.  One crucial feature of the world is its interconnectedness in geographical, social, economic, cultural and intellectual matters, and these connections cannot be understood without understanding the role of politics.

A knowledge of politics helps you to understand and explain what governments do. It also teaches you a great deal about human nature. Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part.

In politics, we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in our lessons. At the very core of our department are our widely experienced staff who between them have a wealth of knowledge and interests, allowing for a diverse curriculum.  We also believe in whole-class teaching methods and combine these with enquiry-based research activities.  Children consider asking as well as answering historical questions.  Students take part in debates and discussions and they present reports to the rest of their class.  They engage in a wide variety of problem-solving activities and wherever possible, we involve them in 'real' political activity.

Curriculum overview

In year 12 we study UK government and politics following the Edexcel specification. The units are as follows:

Component 1: Participation (Exam 1 hour 45 minutes)

Democracy and participation

What are the different forms of democracy in the UK? What is the nature of representative democracy in the UK, how democratic is the UK? How can people participate in the UK? Should we extend the franchise? Do pressure groups help or hinder democracy? How are rights protected in the UK?

Political parties

What are the features and functions of political parties? Why do parties need mandates? What are the differences between left and right wing parties? How are parties funded? What are the core beliefs of the three main parties? How have minor parties changed our political system since 2010? Why are some parties more successful than others? How well do parties enhance representative democracy? Could UK democracy operate without parties?

Electoral systems

How does first-past-the-post work? Is first-past-the-post fit for purpose? Should we hold more referendums? How fair are elections? Do elections enhance democracy in the UK?

Voting behaviour and the media

What factors affect how people vote in elections? Why do people choose not to vote in the UK? How important is a strong party leader? How influential is the media in influencing voting behaviour? Should the publication of opinion polls be banned in the run-up to elections?

Component 2: UK government (Exam 1 hour and 45 minutes)


Why do countries need a constitution? How has the UK developed its constitution? What are the sources and components of the UK Constitution? Does our constitution need reforming? How successful have our constitutional reforms been since 2010? Has devolution been successful? To what extent has constitutional reform since 1997 improved the state of UK democracy? Should we have a codified constitution?


Has parliamentary sovereignty been eroded? What functions does Parliament perform? How is legislation passed in the UK? How does Parliament interact with the executive? How does the committee system work in the UK? How effective is the UK Parliament today? Should we reform the House of Lords? Should a second chamber be introduced?

The prime minister and executive

What is the role of the central executive within UK Politics? How does cabinet system work? Who has the upper hand – prime minister or cabinet? Why is collective responsibility important amongst ministers? How powerful is the prime minister? Why has the relationship between the prime minister and the cabinet changed between 2010-2018? Who has been the most successful prime minister since 1945?

Relations between institutions

Who can be part of the judiciary? Why was a Supreme Court established in the UK? Are judges really independent and neutral? How will Brexit affect relations between the institutions? What is sovereignty and where is it located in the UK political system?

Year 13: we will continue to work towards the Edexcel specification, focusing on ideologies and US Politics.

Component 1: Core Political ideas

This will form part of the A-Level Politics exam in year 13, and will be sat with Component 1 from Year 12.


What are the key ideas of Conservatism? What are the differing views and tensions within Conservatism? Who are the key thinkers within Conservatism?


What are the key ideas of Liberalism? What are the differing views and tensions within Liberalism? Who are the key thinkers within Liberalism?


What are the key ideas of Socialism? What are the differing views and tensions within Socialism? Who are the key thinkers within Socialism?

Component 2: Non-core Political ideas

This will form part of the A-Level Politics exam in year 13, and will be sat with Component 1 from Year 12.


What are the key ideas and principles of Feminism? What are the different types of Feminism? Who are the key thinkers within Feminism?

Component 3: Government and Politics of the USA (2 hours)


What are the key features of the US Constitution? How are constitutional amendments made? Why has the Constitution been amended so rarely? What are the principal constitutional rights? What are the key principles of the US Constitution? What is the doctrine of the separation of powers? How do checks and balances of the US Constitution work? What is federalism and how has it changed? What are the consequences of federalism? What are the principal similarities and differences between the US and UK constitutions?


What is the structure and composition of Congress? What powers does Congress possess? How do the House of Representatives and the Senate compare? How important are congressional committees? How are laws made? How effective is Congress? What determines the way members of Congress vote? What role do parties play in Congress? What are the principal similarities and differences between the US Congress and the UK Parliament?

The Presidency

What kind of presidency did the Founding Fathers envisage? What are the formals powers of the president? What are the powers of the vice president? What is the cabinet, how is it appointed, how is it used and how important is it? What role is played by EXOP? How can the president get his way with Congress? What forms of direct authority does the president possess? What are the theories of presidential power? What is the president’s role in foreign policy? What limitations exist on presidential power? What factors affect presidential success? How do the offices of the US president and UK prime minister compare?

The Supreme Court and civil rights

What is the structure of the federal courts? What is the membership of the Supreme Court? What is the judicial philosophy of the justices? How does the appointment and confirmation process work? What is the power of judicial review? What is judicial activism? How has the Supreme Court interpreted the Bill of Rights? How has the Supreme Court influenced public policy? How has the Supreme Court checked congressional and presidential power? What are the principle similarities and differences between the US and UK Supreme Court?

US democracy and participation

When do presidential elections occur? What are the requirements for presidential candidates? What is the ‘invisible primary?’ What are primaries and caucuses and how do they work? How and when are vice presidential candidates chosen? What functions do national party conventions perform? What role do money and the televised debates play in the general election campaign? How does the Electoral College work? How do congressional elections work? What significant trends can be seen in congressional elections? What is direct democracy and who uses it and how in the USA? What are the principal similarities and differences the US and UK electoral systems? What are the key differences between Republicans and Democrats? Why do third parties not make a significant impact in US politics? What role do pressure groups play within US Politics?

Careers Politics can lead you too

Politics and international relations graduates are typically employed by:

  • accountancy and banking organisations
  • charities
  • councils
  • law firms
  • local and national government
  • retail and media companies.

They are also employed by a range of commercial businesses, particularly within marketing departments.

Other employers include the United Nations (UN), the European Commission, the Civil Service, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), lobbying, campaigning, and voluntary organisations and the public sector in general.

The best universities to study Politics

  1. Oxford
  2. St Andrews
  3. University College of London
  4. London School of Economics
  5. Cambridge
  6. Warwick
  7. Durham
  8. Exeter
  9. Bath
  10. Sheffield
  11. York
  12. Lancaster
  13. Bristol
  14. King’s College London
  15. Glasgow