Why study A-level Government and Politics?
The study of Government & Politics has increased by 17% nationwide in the last year, reflecting the exciting period of political change in UK and World Politics, particularly among young people. At Loxford, the new Edexcel Government & Politics A-level offers students the chance to develop their understanding of UK Politics – looking at developments in the 20th Century right up until the news that happens during the weeks of your lessons.
Students will study:
Unit 1: UK Politics
- Democracy & Participation (Has there been a decrease in turnout and what do we do about it? Should we make greater use of referendums or are they bad for democracy?)
- Political Parties
- Voting Behaviour (What makes people vote a certain way? Has this changed with the shift in political landscape in recent years? What is the role of class, gender, ethnicity, age?)
- Electoral Systems (Is our current First-Past-the-Post system unfair? Should we reform it and how?)
- Pressure Groups and Pluralism (Do groups outside of Parliament help or hinder democracy? Do they allow free expression, or give power to wealthiest?)
- The Media (What role does the media have on the people? Does it shape opinion or merely reflect it?)
Unit 2: UK Government
- The Constitution (How is the UK Constitution different, and does it need changing?)
- UK Parliament (What is the role of Parliament, and does it carry these out effectively?)
- Prime Minister & Cabinet (Is the PM becoming more like a president, and can the Cabinet control the government, or is it just a talking-shop?)
Unit 3: Global Politics:
- Theories of International Relations (Realism & Liberalism
- Sovereignty and Globalisation (the Nation-State, Globalisation)
- Global governance: Political and economic (United Nations, NATO, EU, IMF, World Bank)
- Global Governance: Human Rights and Environmental
- Power and Developments
- Regionalism and the EU
Universities and employers like Government & Politics because it shows that students are engaged in the world around them – essentiall for a range of career paths – from City firms in the corporate sector to journalism and charity work.
As well as being able to situate yourself in the present political environment, studying Government & Politics offers students a range of valuable practical skills essential for further studies and future employment.
Students will develop their ability to apply knowledge in a critical way, evaluate the strengths of arguments, and hone their ability to write precisely and convincingly. They will learn to use knowledge of real-world events to make, and defend, their claims.
These skills form the basis of any degree in the humanities or social sciences, particularly the ability to construct well-written essays, research independently and use information effectively. Government & Politics is also one of the best subjects for shaping student’s soft-skills – increasingly important in today’s labour market – including their verbal communication and academic fluency.
As social science, Government & Politics overlaps with a number of other subjects, often providing a different lens through which to view them, which can strengthen any UCAS application. In particular:
- Media Studies
However, having a social science alongside more science-related subjects can also show universities and employers that students have an additional string to their bow, and that they are well-rounded individuals.
Politics is going on all the time, and it’s important, whether you study it or not, to keep up to date with current affairs. If you know who the main political characters are, what the main issues are, and even your own opinion on those issues, you will be able to hit the round running.
Newspapers & Apps:
Almost all newspaper have apps which you can download onto your smartphone, and automatically send you updates for news stories. You can also personalise these, to show news which you find interesting. Recommended ones are:
- BBC News (free app)
- Guardian (newspaper & free app)
- Telegraph (newspaper & free app)
- The Economist (paid)
- New Statesman (paid)
- Spectator (paid)
- Financial Times (paid)
All paid apps have websites, and you can access a few articles for free also. The New Statesman website (is particularly good for this.
If you don’t want to pay for subscriptions, you can sign up to incredibly useful daily emails, which provide a summary of the news and events of the day. The best are:
Stephen Bush’s Morning Email from the New Statesman is excellent political commentary.
The Telegraph offer an excellent morning political briefing – sign up for that on http://pages.email.telegraph.co.uk/PoliticsSignUpPage/
The Spectator magazine offer an evening political briefing – you can sign up for that at http://spectator.us6.listmanage.com/subscribe?u=b7034b6517cfdcc8d4d4e60e9&id=7aaa2a4d70
There is also the Times’s “Red Box” email – which is very good but bear in mind the links in them go to a website behind a paywall (you would have to pay to read the articles. But the email is very useful- http://www.thetimes.co.uk/redbox/signup/
For those of you who have joined the podcast-revolution, listening to interesting debate and current affairs on the move has never been easier; there are a number of great political podcasts to take advantage of (Just use your iphone podcast app, or download apps like Overcasts or Acast for Android):
- New Statesman Podcast
- Spectator Podcast
- FT Politics
- FT News
- The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly
- Talking Politics
- The Economist Radio
- FT World Weekly
- Chatham House Podcasts
- Vox Wordly
For people wanting American Politics:
- Slate’s Trumpcast
- Pod Save America
- FiveThirtyEight Politics (world-class polling of US Politics)
- NPR Politics Podcast
- The Ezra Klein Show
The two below are the best and most thorough insights into UK and Global Politics
- BBC News
- Channel 4 News
There are a few bbc programmes you can watch which will help give you balanced coverage of the main political issues – here they are with their web pages:
- The Andrew Marr Show – Sundays 9am - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0080bbs
- Daily and Sunday politics – between 11-12 on BBC 2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00ly0k7
- Question Time – Thursday 10:35 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t1q9
- Newsnight – every night 10:30 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk25
It is really useful to learn about modern history as it explains a lot about why politics has developed as it has.
Andrew Marr History of Modern Britain - 5 episodes- http://video/View.aspx?ID=4909~4w~xYCvoFiC or https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFD6058EA8D114482
Also – because we do all the 20th century – watch Andrew Marr making of modern Britain – (5 episodes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tRJ1E9Ai2E&list=PLFB0ED9540B59DA99