Why do an Easter Revision course in Government and Politics at Ashbourne?
The Government & Politics Easter Revision course will be taught by Dennis Fulcher. Dennis is the College’s polymath and Head of Humanities. Originally a graduate in Sociology, Dennis has also completed an MA in Government and Political Studies, a PGCE and a Diploma in Print Journalism. He is also a team-leader for Government & Politics examiners.
There will be revision of the following areas:
Unit 1 – 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; and other topical issues..
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?. Have people switched off politics and if so what can be done about it?. 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, how do they work and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these systems?
Unit 2 – 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?
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 practice. By this stage, 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.
Unit 3 – 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 terms 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 EU and the institutions of global economic governance including the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.
Unit 4 – 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.
Students will practise past exam papers in timed conditions.