Government & Politics AS

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    Subject handbook 2015-2016

    Exam board Edexcel

    Government & Politics AS

  • What is A-Level Government and Politics? Politics is a subject in which you are expected to take an interest in, and to be critical about, the way in which this country is run, and more broadly the world around you. We study issues concerned with who really has power in the UK, and about how the system could be improved. In the A2 course we study ideologies such socialism, liberalism, conservatism and anarchism to come to conclusions about what an ideal society would look like - or perhaps to come to the conclusion that an ideal society is an unrealistic fantasy. Specific questions we will be seeking to answer in the AS course include: Is the UK truly democratic? Why do we have political parties? Is the current coalition nothing more than a marriage of convenience between David Cameron and Nick Clegg? Do Labour and the Conservatives differ? Are decisions sometimes made according to who shouts loudest? Does parliament run the country? Should it? Is the prime minister like an elected monarch? Are our civil rights protected?

    FAQ Frequently asked questions:

    Question Answer

    What does the term politics actually mean?

    The study of how society is or should be run and how power* is conducted or carried out. * Power is the ability to get people to get others to act as you wish either willingly or through coercion and force

    What sorts of things are actually studied in class as part of a Politics A-Level?

    There are three main focuses:

    Political ideas: eg. What should an ideal society look like? Is an ideal society possible or even desirable? Political institutions (bodies) eg. What is parliament? How does it work? How many members does it have? What committees does it have? What do those committees do? Are these committees accountable? Etc. Political processes and roles How is power exercised in practice? For example, what powers does the PM have and what limits exist to PM power? What is the step by step process through which new laws are made?

    Expectations and demands on students:

    Politics is a demanding and well-respected course. Resultantly, students are expected to meet extremely high expectations. You will be:

    Regularly set independent research to deadlines (every week)

    Expected to engage proactively with the subject you must read around the subject and follow the news. Without doing this it is very hard to get a C grade.

    Set regular essay writing and examination practice For those of you that are hardworking and interested this will not seem arduous and it will help you to get the best possible grade; whereas if you are not that interested in current affairs or politics then you will end up spending a large amount of time doing something you do not enjoy.

    I have read the departmental expectations. I understand that the state spends in excess of 92 billion pounds on education annually and that this equates to 12.3% of government spending and 5.1% of the UKs GDP. I also understand that this spending is derived from the general taxation levied on the labour of other people providing goods and services in society and that it is, therefore, not a right but an extreme privilege to receive. Resultantly, I will respect this privilege unavailable to most people in the rest of the world by committing myself fully to the expectations of punctuality, attendance, ability to meet deadlines and standards outlined above and in the Sixth Form wide home-school agreement. Signed:

  • How am I assessed and what specific content is on the course? You will study two main courses UK Politics at AS and political ideology at A2.

    The exam board is Edexcel. Politics continues to have separate AS exams and A2 exams. This means that you can chose to drop the subject at the end of Year 12 and still receive a full AS qualification.

    You will sit four exams. Each is equally weighted at 25% of your total A-Level and there is no coursework at any point. There are no January exams or January resists.

    o SUMMER OF YEAR 12 (50% of whole A-Level): Unit 1 and Unit 2 exams on UK Politics (see details below) o SUMMER OF YEAR 13 (50% of whole A-Level): Unit 3 and Unit 4 exams on political ideology (see details below)

    Edexcel Government and Politics syllabus

    Unit Content (all units have four modules/sub-topics) Assessment Question types

    Unit 1: People and politics

    DEMOCRACY: We discover what democracy is, how it works in the UK and ways in which it could be enhanced. POLITICAL PARTIES: We discover the nature of the different political parties, the traditions and policies behind them, divisions within them, and we compare the differences and similarities between the parties. ELECTIONS: We look at different electoral systems, the link between elections and democracy, and we consider Britains systems - their advantages and disadvantages. PRESSURE GROUPS: We look at the nature of a variety of pressure groups, the power and influence of pressure groups and their relationship with democracy.

    Exam 1hr 20mins Summer Yr. 12 25% of total A-Level

    Two sets of 5, 10 and 25 mark questions Pick two of the four topics

    Unit 2: Governing the UK

    THE CONSTITUTION: We look at the nature of the UKs constitution, consider where power lies and study the debates around constitutional reform. PARLIAMENT: We look at how Parliament is made up, the role of Parliament, how a law is made (step by step) and reforms to the Houses of Commons and Lords. THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET: We study the role and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the powers and constraints upon the Prime Minister and the manner of leadership that the Prime Minister can provide: is a PM first amongst equals or does he have far more power than his cabinet ministers and so act like an elected dictator? JUDGES AND CIVIL LIBERTIES: We look at the role of the judiciary, the power and influence which judges have and the effect of this on civil liberties and individual rights.

    Exam 1hr 20mins Summer Yr. 12 25% of total A-Level

    One set of 5, 10 and 25 mark questions from a choice of two topics (at random) Then one 40 marker from a choice of two topics (those two not on the first section)

    Unit 3B: Introducing ideologies

    CONSERVATISM: Conserving society as it is. Hierarchy and order matters most. SOCIALISM: Seeking to build a more equal society LIBERALISM: Opposing restrictions on peoples freedom (liberty) ANARCHISM: Opposing state (government) power as an innate harm

    Exam 1hr 30mins Summer Yr. 13 25% of total A-Level

    Pick three 15 markers from a choice of five questions (all topics come up at least once) Pick one 45 marker from a choice of three questions (one topic randomly missing)

    Unit 4B: Other ideological traditions

    ECOLOGISM: Politics of the earth. How has environmental destruction challenged the classic approaches of capitalism and socialism to running the economy and society? Is our current society sustainable or will it suffer ecological collapse? FEMINISM: Sees society as having been created and shaped by men. Feminists wish to challenge this male domination and bring about gender equality and gender awareness. MULTICULTURALISM: Is a society with more than one culture desirable? NATIONALISM: Should countries just look after their own self-interests over everyone elses?

    Exam 1hr 30mins Summer Yr. 13 25% of total A-Level

    Pick three 15 markers from a choice of five questions (all topics come up at least once) Pick one 45 marker from a choice of three questions (one topic randomly missing)

  • Exam technique: Success criteria (assessment objectives) Success criteria are the requirements that your work is marked against in order to pick up marks on your exam. The three main success criteria and the question types that they are applicable to are listed below:

    Success criteria What this means

    AO1 Key knowledge and understanding

    Knowledge of political ideas and terms required to answer a question. Includes knowledge of specific examples.

    AO2 Intellectual ability to explain and evaluate

    Quality and extent of explanation of political terms and ideas. On 25 and 40 markers, also quality of evaluation paragraphs.

    AO3 Communication and clarity Structure, line of argument and English language used

    Three different question types exist (roughly a mark a minute for each):

    Question Type Asking you to Success criteria

    5 mark Describing question One paragraph asking you to say what something is


    10 mark Explaining question One page asking you to say why something is the way it is as well as what it is

    AO1 & AO2

    25 mark Evaluative question Several pages asking you to write a long-answer essay weighing up for and against arguments in order to come to a conclusion

    AO1; AO2; AO3

    40 mark Evaluative question Same as the 25 marker, just a little longer AO1; AO2; AO3

    5 mark structure and mark scheme (describe questions) One paragraph of - a page of A4. Three main points. No spaces between points. Each point just describes the term or idea being asked about.

    Example point (do this x3)

    Mark Scheme: Knowledge and understanding question (total of 5 marks available). Relevant criteria: AO1: 5 marks

    3 marks available for factors described (1 mark for each different factors)

    Up to 2 marks for a more detailed or developed description of a particular point (feature/function) which shows an expansive, comprehensive knowledge and understanding (1 mark per point that is fully described)

  • 10 mark structure and mark