Background information about studying Politics
Politics affects everything we do in life and the Government and Politics course at A-Level takes a look at what the major functions of government and politics in Britain and beyond. The political aspect covers the major components of the democratic process; parties, pressure groups and elections. The Government aspect focusses specifically on how a country is run and the various bodies that work together to govern a country. This includes a lot of about the various arms of government; executive, legislature and judiciary, and also looks at the constitution. At A2 similar topics are studied but in the context of the USA. There are also opportunities to further explore the theory behind politics including ideologies within other A2 units.
What can I expect when studying Politics?
Whilst there is a lot to learn on most politics courses, few people consider it a particulary difficult course when compared to some A levels. This said,there is some complex vocabulary and concepts to be learnt. There can, however, be a large volume of material to memorise for exams, so make sure you're prepared for that.
Usually quite a textbook and essay based subject politics seems to have an average workload.
Required Individual Study
Outside teacher set work, there is unlikely to be much background reading. Teachers may however ask you to research topics. Particularly for UK Politics it can be really helpful to read at least a newspaper a week, or to read the news online. If you are doing US politics then Time magazine can be very helpful. You can get by without doing this but it helps your understanding.
How is it assessed?
Usually two exams a year.
On most courses,none
Not in the normal sense of them.
Field trips and excursions
Schools may organise a trip to the Houses of Parliament in London, United Kingdom for AS or perhaps even a visit to the United States Congress, Washington D.C for A2. It would be advisable to ask the course provider if this option is available, as this opportunity will differ from school to school. Most schools will be offered the opportunity to go to AS and A2 Revision lectures held at universities across the country. It will normally be up to your school whether or not they attend.
The University of Hull host a Sixth Form Politics Conference very near to the start of the academic year, but if you don't live in or close to Yorkshire this will be unfeasible to attend.
Where can I go with a Politics A-Level
It is a good subject for both humanities and social science degrees.
What I like about studying this subject: You'll definitely get marks for your own opinion, though ofcourse you have to state different sides of the argument!
What I dislike about studying this subject: Depending on what sort of person you are, it can be REALLY dull at times. But for most its simply an easy and achievable A.
What I like about studying this subject: I actually learned some useful stuff from this A Level, for example how first past the post works, and why it's arguably the best system to have for voting, and the administration behind the government, how laws are passed etc. Some bits can be quite interesting, maybe even debatable. Plus the exam for AS unit 2 (which is basically the administration of the government) is quite easy, as you don't need as many current examples for it, and the exam itself is alright.
What I dislike about studying this subject: I found it incredibly dull most of the time, especially unit 2 (albeit not conceptually difficult) Unit 1 exam is a joke - you can write a beautiful essay answering the question accurately, but if you don't use the correct lingo and write it in a particular way, you will fall down in the mark scheme. I ended up with a D on that particular unit as a result of this (as well as the fact they threw in a big curveball that year). So practise loaaads.
Before I started this A-level in 2008. I had absolutely no clue about the basic political framework in the UK, let alone what an MP was, and did in Parliament.
The first few weeks of the course were quite difficult, having to take in high volumes of information and knowledge. The subject is fun and enjoyable but certain areas can be boring. This subject really improves your essay-writing skills and English grammar. I have most definitely witnessed a huge improvement in my writing skills from the start of the course in 2008 to date (2010).
If you want to learn about the Political framework of the UK and arising problems related to the issue.
If you want to learn about Ideologies from Liberalism to Fascism and the Political framework of the USA from the day the British left.
Then this is a perfect subject for you to choose!
The most beautiful element of Politics A-level is how History is phased into the subject. You have the best of both subjects for the price of one. If you enjoy reading/watching the news, then this subject will grant you an guaranteed 'A'.
If you want to study: Law, Economics, History, English Literature, English Language, Sociology, Philosophy, International Relations at University. Then choosing A-level Politics is a real asset.
I have greatly enjoyed this A-Level, however I found the AS course to be infinitely more 'useful' than the A2. That said, not everybody does the same course.
As has previously been mentioned, there is a large amount of information to revise for this subject. By large, I mean it is the largest out of all of my subjects and it is considered to be 'less academic'. This course, I think, involves more revision than History or English Literature, both of which I took at A2.
That said, the subject itself and the exams are not too difficult providing that you know the information.
I would advise this subject if, first of all, you have an interest in the UK political system and secondly, if you have the willpower to revise a lot of information. Forget what was said above about little work outside of the classroom, you need to be up to date with topical political issues.
Furthermore, do not be perturbed from taking Politics on the grounds that it is not as academic as perhaps other subjects. It is by no means an 'inferior' subject and it will not prevent you from going to the top universities, including Oxbridge.
PM me if you have any further questions.