Peter Symonds College

Study at PSC

A level Politics will appeal to those who want to discover answers to fundamental questions such as ‘How can we live together without resorting to violence?’, ‘Who has the power to make decisions in society?’ and ‘Why is there a ‘participation crisis’ in UK politics?’

The Politics A level will cover a broad range of topics to reflect the national, global and ideological dimensions of the subject. In Year One, the course will focus on how the UK government works and the different ways UK citizens engage in  political participation. Core ideologies (including conservatism, socialism and liberalism) will also be covered in order to explore many of the theories underpinning the UK and other political systems. Global politics will be investigated in Year Two when you will investigate topics such as which states have the most power and why, globalisation, and how global political and economic organisations seek to deal with global issues concerning poverty, the environment and human rights.

The two year course will develop your skills of analysis and evaluation. You will need to express yourself well on paper and think critically and logically. You will take three written exams at the end of the second year. There is no coursework in Politics.

Course Content

Year 1

You will study two units:

  • Paper 1UK Politics and Core Political Ideas
    This paper offers an introduction to key features of the UK political system: Democracy and Participation, Pressure Groups, Political Parties, Elections and Electoral Systems, and Voting Behaviour. It also covers the ideologies of Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism.
  • Paper 2: UK Politics and Non-Core Political Ideas
    This paper analyses the central institutions of the UK government: the Constitution, Parliament, the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Judiciary and Civil Liberties. It also covers the ideology of Anarchism. 

Year 2

You will study one more paper and then take three exams in June:

  • Paper 3: Comparative Politics
    This paper focuses on key aspects of global politics: Globalisation, Global Governance, Power and Development, Regionalism and the EU, and Comparative Theories.

Methods of Teaching

We will use a whole host of methods to assist your learning. Sometimes you will be listening to a teacher explaining a political concept or process; sometimes you will be taking notes. On other occasions you will be working in pairs or in small groups to research a particular topic area. You may be asked to prepare a presentation to deliver to the class or to read an article and report back on the key features of the text. All your learning experiences will be designed to enable you to understand the material fully and move swiftly from assimilating new information to applying it. One of the key skills you will be developing is the ability to evaluate arguments and communicate your response effectively. Each paper is accompanied by a course booklet to enable you to access the knowledge you require efficiently. You will also have the opportunity to visit Parliament, to attend student Politics conferences and to listen to talks by key speakers who we invite into college. Many of you may also want to join the PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) Society in order to discuss and learn more about Politics topics outside of the curriculum.

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

At the end of the second year there are three 2 hour exams covering the content of the three papers. Each exam is equally weighted.

Where Could It Take Me?

A level Politics develops your skills of analysis, interpretation, evaluation, and communication. You will learn to write precisely and to argue logically, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of political institutions, processes, concepts and ideologies.

 In this respect Politics is a subject that compliments many other areas of study including Law, History, Sociology, English, Economics, Philosophy, Geography, Classical Civilisation and Psychology. It is a highly regarded and rigorous academic subject that will be useful for a wide range of careers including Journalism, Law, Business, Media, Finance, Civil Service, Finance, Teaching, Public Relations and, of course, Politics! 

Financial Implications

You will be expected to buy the recommended textbook to support the work we do in class. We will give you a reading list with the details of the books we recommend. Textbooks are also available in the Learning Resources Centre. In addition each unit is accompanied by a course booklet produced here at Symonds.  Expect your costs to be no more than £30-35 per year.  We hope to offer trips to relevant student conferences where appropriate, however these will be optional. The College has a Student Support Fund for anyone who has difficulty meeting these costs.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including Mathematics and English.

Most Recent Results

Below is a summary of the most recent set of results for this subject:

Grade: A* A B C D E U Total
Total: 19 30 46 27 8 4 3 137
Percentage 13.9 21.9 33.6 19.7 5.8 2.9 2.2