AS Politics
Home AS History History Yrs 7-9 GCSE History History Net Politics Net Trips Staff AS Politics

 

AS & A Level Politics

Introduction

This specification contributes to an understanding of the nature of politics by giving candidates the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and understanding in the context of the politics of the United Kingdom, including its local, national and European Union dimensions and including aspects of comparative study of other political systems.

The specification encourages candidates to:

bullet

Develop a critical awareness of the nature of politics and the relationship between political ideas, institutions and processes.

bullet

Acquire knowledge and understanding of the structures of authority and power within the political system of the United Kingdom, and how these may differ from other political systems.

bullet

Acquire knowledge of Government and Politics and of the rights and responsibilities of individuals in order to encourage participation by candidates within their society.

bullet

Develop candidates’ personal effectiveness through a critical awareness of political events and issues, an empathetic understanding of the main political viewpoints and the skills required to argue a case with relevance and coherence.

bullet

Provide candidates with a clear understanding of the theories, motives and values that underpin political processes and governmental decision-making and the role of institutions in resolving conflicts and allocating scarce resources.

 

Scheme of Assessment

1. Advanced Subsidiary (AS)

 

Unit

 

Title/Method

 

Length/Weighting

 

1

 

People & Politics

Written paper - 2 structured questions

 

1 hour

16.67%

 

2

 

Governing the UK

Written paper - 2 structured questions

 

1 hour

16.67%

 

3

 

The Changing UK System

Written paper - 1 stimulus question

 

1 hour

16.67%

 

2. Advanced Level (A2)

 

 

Unit

 

Title/Method

 

Length/Weighting

 

4C

 

Representation in the USA

Written paper - 2 short questions plus 1 essay/structured essay question

 

1 hour 15m

15%

 

5C

 

Governing the USA

Written paper - 2 short questions plus 1 essay/structured essay question

 

1 hour 15m

15%

 

6C

 

Comparative US and UK Politics

Written paper - 2 essay/structured essay questions

 

1 hour 30m

20%

 

AS MODULE 1: PEOPLE AND POLITICS

 

This unit introduces students to the study of politics by looking at the central ideas of citizenship, democracy and participation, and by examining the representative processes in the United Kingdom.

1. Why are political participation and democracy important?

bullet

A basic introduction to the nature of power and how power becomes legitimate authority.

bullet

An understanding of citizenship and of the role of political participation in preserving the rights and freedoms of the individual.

bullet

Building a knowledge of the main features of a representative democracy (dictatorship should be examined for comparison).

2. Do elections guarantee democracy?

bullet

An awareness of the relationship between elections and democracy and a comparative knowledge of different types of electoral system used in the UK and of their implications.

bullet

A knowledge of how and why referenda are used and an ability to discuss their value.

3. What is the role of political parties?

bullet

A knowledge of the functions of political parties and an ability to discuss the relationship between political parties and democracy.

bullet

A comparative knowledge of different party systems and of the ideologies, theories and traditions of the major UK political parties.

4. How important are pressure groups?

bullet

A knowledge of different categories of pressure group.

bullet

The factors that contribute to the success of pressure groups.

bullet

The relationship between pressure groups and democracy.

 

AS MODULE 2: GOVERNING THE UK

This unit provides an introduction to the major institutions of UK government, examines their relationships with one another and considers their effectiveness.

1. What is the nature of the UK constitution?

bullet

An understanding of the nature, workings and major principles of the UK constitution within the context of EU membership.

bullet

A comparative knowledge of different types of constitution.

2. What is the role and significance of Parliament?

bullet

A knowledge of the representative, legislative and scrutiny functions of Parliament and how well these functions are performed.

bullet

In particular, an analysis of the relationship between Parliament and the Executive.

bullet

A comparative knowledge of the difference between parliamentary and presidential systems is required.

3. Who has power within the executive?

bullet

A knowledge of the distribution of power within the UK executive.

bullet

A knowledge of the factors that influence the relationship between the prime minister and the cabinet.

bullet

A knowledge of the relationship between ministers and civil servants and of their accountability to Parliament and to the public.

4. Do judges deliver justice and defend freedom?

bullet

A knowledge of the role of the courts in relation to Parliament and the executive.

bullet

An understanding of the impact of the courts on the issues of civil liberties and individual rights.

 

AS MODULE 3: THE CHANGING UK SYSTEM

This unit examines key issues affecting the development of the UK system and considers the impact and desirability of political and constitutional change. It builds on the knowledge of concepts and institutions developed in modules 1 & 2. However, it requires a fuller understanding of the workings of institutions and also places a heavier emphasis on analysis and evaluation.

 

1. Do elections change anything?

bullet

A knowledge of the factors influencing the outcomes of recent general elections and which shape the party system.

bullet

An ability to discuss the adequacy of the electoral system for the House of Commons and the case for reform.

2. Is there a need for constitutional reform?

bullet

A knowledge of, and ability to evaluate, the constitutional reforms that have been introduced in recent years or are on the political agenda, notably ones that affect the power and accountability of the executive such as reform of the second chamber, freedom of information and a tighter rule of law.

bullet

A knowledge of the different views of constitutional reform of the major parties and of the link between these views and party ideology.

3. How united is the UK?

bullet

A knowledge of the devolution process and of the impact of the territorial distribution of power on the integrity of the UK, particularly in terms of the relationship between devolved bodies and central government.

bullet

A knowledge of the forces and factors that are fuelling decentralisation in the UK, and an ability to discuss the adequacy of different constitutional solutions to this problem in relation to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

4. How has EU membership affected the political system?

bullet

A knowledge of the developing relationship between the UK and the EU, and of the general political and constitutional implications of EU membership for the UK system, especially in relation to the issue of sovereignty.

bullet

A general knowledge of differing positions within and between major parties on relations with the EU.

 

A2 MODULE 4C: REPRESENTATION IN THE USA

This unit examines the representative processes of the US political system and considers their adequacy in terms of popular participation and full democracy.

1. Elections and voting 

bullet

A knowledge of the institutional mechanisms of the US political system and an awareness of the major social, economic and historical factors that condition the contemporary functioning of the system, and of important contemporary political events.

bullet

A knowledge of the electoral mechanisms used in the US and of their significance, and an awareness of the factors that explain the outcomes of recent presidential and Congressional elections.

2. Political parties

bullet

A knowledge of the ideologies, traditions and theories of the Democrats and Republicans, of conflicts and tendencies within each party, and of their coalitions of supporters.

bullet

A knowledge of the US party system, of the distribution of power within parties, and of the changing significance of parties as a means of organising the electorate and as channels of political access.

3. Pressure Groups.

bullet

A knowledge of the different categories of groups within the US system and of how they operate.

bullet

A knowledge of the policy significance of organised groups and interests, of their resources and tactics, and of debates about their impact upon democracy

4. Racial and ethnic politics.

bullet

A knowledge of racial and ethnic diversity in the US and of key issues in minority politics, including forms of minority political activism and the extent of minority representation.

 

A2 MODULE 5C: GOVERNING THE USA

This unit examines the institutional framework of US government and considers the interrelationship between its legislature, executive and judicial processes and the health of US federalism.

1. Constitution & Supreme Court

bullet

A knowledge of the nature and principles of the US Constitution

bullet

An awareness of the constitutional framework within which US institutions operate and of the relationship between the Constitution and practical politics.

bullet

A knowledge of the role of the Supreme Court, of its impact upon public policy, and an ability to discuss its political significance

2. Congress.

bullet

A knowledge of the structure and workings of Congress, of the distribution of power within Congress and of deabtes about the adequacy of its representative role.

bullet

A knowledge of factors influencing the relationship between Congress and the presidency, and an ability to discuss the policy significance and institutional effectiveness of Congress.

3. Presidency.

bullet

A knowledge of the formal and informal sources of presidential power and of the relationships between the presidency and other institutions.

bullet

An awareness of the factors that affect the role of the presidency and an ability to evaluate the capacity to provide leadership of the presidency and of recent presidents

4. Federal bureaucracy.

bullet

A knowledge of the general structure and functions of the federal bureaucracy, of the sources of its power, and of the extent of its political accountability

bullet

A knowledge of the relationship between the federal government and state governments and of the changing forms and theories of federalism

bullet

An awareness of debates about the need for and health of federalism in the US

A2 MODULE 6C: COMPARATIVE UK AND US POLITICS

This unit compares and contrasts the UK and US political systems, drawing together knowledge and understanding developed in the AS and in modules 4C and 5C.

1. Constitutions and Judiciaries

bullet

A knowledge of differences between the constitutions and constitutional structures of the UK and USA, notably the implications of 'written' and 'unwritten' constitutions, and an ability to discuss the general role and performance of constitutions

bullet

A knowledge of the contrasting roles and political significance of the UK and US judiciaries

2. Assemblies

bullet

A knowledge of the different constitutional and political frameworks within which Parliament and Congress operate, of the factors that affect their relations with the executive and their policy impact, and an ability to evaluate the general significance of assemblies

3. Executives

bulletA knowledge of the organisation of the political executive   in the UK and the US, of the distribution of power within the political executive, and of its relationship to other government bodies
bulletA knowledge of the power and accountability of the bureaucracy in the UK and the US, and an ability to evaluate the general significance of the executive branch of government

 

4. Elections & Political parties

bulletA knowledge of the electoral arrangements and party systems found in the UK and US, and an awareness of the links between elections and parties
bulletA knowledge of the ideological positions of UK and US parties and an ability to evaluate the general significance of elections and political parties in terms of representation and participation

 

5. Pressure Groups

bulletA knowledge of the role and significance of group politics in the UK and US and of the factors that affect the policy impact of particular groups and within different systems
bulletAn awareness of debates about the general relationship of pressure groups to democracy and political stability

 

6. Territorial politics

bulletA knowledge of the territorial distribution of power in the UK and US, particularly the ability to discuss similarities and differences between devolution and federalism
bulletA knowledge of the general factors influencing the territorial distribution of power within states and of the arguments for and against decentralisation