A level Government & Politics

At Ashbourne, our small group sizes mean that we have plenty of opportunity for discussion and debate which is the very essence of the study of politics and government. The debate takes place in a focused and disciplined manner within the broad parameters of the specification and seeks to facilitate student knowledge and understanding of the way in which examiners expect successful candidates to approach exam questions. The multi-cultural mix of Ashbourne means that discussions are lively and informative and students are exposed to many different points of view at the same time as learning to employ different theoretical and political traditions including Conservatism. Liberalism and Socialism. It is instructive also to see students develop an understanding of tensions and strains within these philosophies as well as simply between them.

We begin by investigating the way we are governed in the UK by exploring UK political parties, pressure groups, electoral systems and the broader conceptual of issue of representation and democracy within the UK political culture. In the 2nd year of study to focus switches to structures and issues in global politics where we explore global governance, war, peace, security, globalisation, nuclear proliferation, international law, human rights and humanitarian intervention.

We use a wide range of text and multi-media sources to awaken and deepen student understanding and invest much time in helping students appreciate and meet the requirements of the examination

Why study Government and Politics?

Almost everything that we experience in the modern world is connected to Politics, from how much tax we pay to what kind of education we receive. Politics on a national and global scale will also affect our future security and quality of life. Government and Politics is an excellent subject choice for students with an interest in current affairs who want to understand the world around them.

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow Edexcel specification for Government and Politics..

How many units are there?

There are four units in total: two at AS and two at A2

What is each unit about?

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
People and Politics

Political Parties: We will explore just how different (and similar) the policies of the major parties are, the extent to which Conservative policies and ideas are still influenced by Thatcherism, the degree to which the Labour party remains a socialist party or whether and to what extent the Liberal Democrats (and indeed the Conservative Party) have found coalition government has forced them to adopt and defend policies they may not have naturally supported.

Pressure Groups: We also explore the role pressure groups play in our democracy. Whom do they represent? Do they have too much influence or too little. In what ways can pressure groups exert influence upon decision makers and how far are the tactics and methods used by pressure groups justified within a democracy?

Representation and Democracy: We explore the different types of democracy. Exactly what constitutes a liberal democracy and how far or how little does that differ from the concept of a representative democracy? How can we get more people to participate in politics? Party membership is at an all time low and the 2001 General Election witnessed the worst turnout since 1918 at just 59%. Have people switched off politics and if so what can be done about i?. Should we lower the voting age to 16 or make voting compulsory?

Electoral Systems: The 2011 AV referendum result revealed little appetite for electoral reform (only 41% voted and 70% of those voting rejected any reform.) But problems remain. In 2005 only 22% of the electorate endorsed a third term Labour government. Half of all MPs are elected by a minority of their constituents and the House of Lords remains unelected. What are the major electoral systems used in the UK, how do they work and what the various advantages and disadvantages each system brings?

Governing the UK

Parliament: Is parliament still an effective and important institution? What are its main functions and how well does it carry them out? Is there too much party control over individual MPs? To what extent do our elected representatives effectively represent our interests? Has parliament become too close to professional lobbyists who wield too much influence over our law? What if anything should be done to reform parliament?

Executives (Prime Minister, Cabinet and the Core Executive). What has happened to Prime ministerial power in recent years? Has our PM become too powerful or presidential? What are the main limitations on prime-ministerial power? Is the Cabinet still an effective collective decision making body? Are the most important decisions made beyond the reach of cabinet? What has been the impact of coalition upon policy formulation?

Judiciary and Civil LIberties: What is the role of the Judiciary in the UK system of governance? How far is it independent and neutral? Why has the Human Rights Act increasingly brought the government and senior judges into conflict? To what extent does the judiciary guarantee and protect civil liberties?

The UK Constitution: Why (almost uniquely) is our constitution not codified into a single source document? Where do our constitutional checks and balances come from? How far is the UK constitution flexible and what dangers might this pose to our rights and freedoms?

After the Easter break we embark upon a programme of revision and intensive examination practise. By this stages, students should be able to make links across the topics and should have a comprehensive and clear understanding of the way the UK political system works and its strengths and weaknesses.

Structures of Global Politics:

Students will begin by exploring some of the key concepts in International Politics; they will learn to understand what is meant by terminology such as sovereignty and will begin to investigate how the process of globalization is affecting the individuality and independence of nations. They will then go on to look at the relationships that nations have to one another and how those relationships have changed since 1989. Finally they will examine the role and significance of international organisations such as the UN, NATO and the E and the institutions of global economic governance including the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.

Issue in Global Politics:

This unit deals with key issues in recent global politics. Particular emphasis is placed on developments since 9/11. Students will explore the concept of warfare in the early 21st Century and the concept of ‘new’ wars. They will explore Nuclear proliferation and Terrorism. Students will discuss the effectiveness of the growing body of international law, explore human rights and the principle of humanitarian intervention. We will also study global poverty and development and explore global environmental politics.

How is each unit examined?

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
Students sit a one hour, twenty minute examination. They will answer two sets of questions, each on a different topic
Students sit a one hour, twenty minute examination. They will answer two questions, each on a different topic.Section A questions will be based on a source but require own knowledge. Section B questions will be traditional essay style questions worth 40 marks
Students sit a one hour, 30 minute examination. They will answer three short questions and one essay question.

Students sit a one hour, 30 minute examination. They will answer three short questions and one essay question.

When do the exams take place?

AS students sit their examinations in late May or early June. There will be opportunities to resit AS units in January of the A2 year. Students generally sit A2 examinations in June of the A2 year.

When do the exams take place?

AS students sit their examinations in late May or early June. There will be opportunities to resit AS units in January of the A2 year. Students generally sit A2 examinations in June of the A2 year.

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Dennis Fulcher: Head of Faculty of Multi-Media and Social Sciences

(BSc Hons (Kingston) MA (London) PGCE (Greenwich) Media and Social Sciences (HoD), Psychology, Sociology, Film, Politics and Law)

Dennis is the College’s polymath and Head of Faculty. Originally a graduate in Sociology, Dennis has also completed a Masters in Government and Political Studies, a PGCE and a Diploma in Print Journalism. He is also a team leader for Government and Politics examiners. Dennis has huge experience of his subject and an excellent track record of getting top grades. Dennis seeks yearly anonymised feedback from his students and consistently scores very highly in the student ratings of his teaching and their learning experiences. Dennis provides stimulating and engaging teaching materials in a variety of formats and uses innovative learning exercises to insist that the students contribute significantly to their own learning and development throughout the course.

Michael Wilkinson

(BA Politics (SOAS) MSc Politics Sociology(Birkbeck College, University of London)

Michael Wilkinson began teaching Government and Politics at Ashbourne College in September 2009. Prior to this, he worked as a researcher at the Home Office, and thus has some first hand insight into the nature of the UK political system. Since leaving the Home Office he has been involved in freelance social research work at the University of Surrey, and he also currently tutors on some of their undergraduate courses in Sociology. Mike has a degree in Politics, an MSC Politics and Sociology and a Diploma in Applied Social Research.

Beyond A level for Government & Politics Students

Government and Politics is a highly regarded A Level which can lead to many degree courses including Politics, War and Peace Studies, International Relations, History, Economics and Law. It will not necessarily lead to a career in politics but could provide a good foundation for students who wish to pursue careers in journalism, the Civil Service, Development or Law, for example.

Any other information

Students of Government and Politics are expected to keep themselves up to date with current affairs. This means, at the least, reading a reputable broadsheet every day.


AS LevelA2 Level
Title – Essentials of UK Politics: AS level
Author – Andrew Heywood
Web link – www.amazon.co.uk/Essentials-UK-Politics-AS level/dp/0230201733/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275389210&sr=8-5

Title – AS and A Level Government and Politics through diagrams
Author – Paul Fairclough
Web link – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Government-Politics-Through-Diagrams-Revision/dp/0199134340/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276271063&sr=8-2

Other Resources

Reputable broadsheet newspapers are;

The Times

The Independent

The Guardian

The Telegraph

Other websites are


Government and Politics A2/AS Scheme of Work