Subject content

There are three broad areas of study in this specification:

  • the government and politics of the UK
  • the government and politics of the USA, and comparative politics
  • political ideas.

The specification requires in depth study of UK and US government and politics. Comparisons across the two political systems are required in the topic entitled Comparative politics. Students will be required to identify parallels, connections, similarities and differences between aspects of politics. This will ensure that students develop a critical awareness of the changing nature of politics and the relationships between political ideas, political institutions and political processes.

The political ideas to be studied have relevance to both of the systems of government and politics. The study of the four ideologies will enhance the students’ knowledge and understanding of politics, political debate and political issues in both the UK and the USA.

SkillsIn all components of this subject students must demonstrate the following skills:

  • to comprehend and interpret political information
  • to critically analyse and evaluate the areas of politics studied
  • to construct arguments and explanations leading to reasoned conclusions
  • to identify parallels, connections, similarities and differences between aspects of the areas of politics studied
  • to construct and communicate arguments and explanations with relevance, clarity and coherence
  • to use appropriate political vocabulary
  • to make connections between the different areas of politics studied
  • to make comparisons across two political systems.

Synopticity

An essential element of the assessment of students’ work in A-level politics is the extent to which they display a synoptic or holistic understanding of the subject. To demonstrate this students will be expected to inter-relate areas of content within each module and, when appropriate, across modules, to address the requirements of the exam papers. They must use appropriate concepts and knowledge as well as the skills listed above in developing their answers.

Politics, as a subject, is inherently synoptic. The political knowledge, concepts, behaviours and institutions studied in any particular module can often be used and applied to new contexts in other parts of the course. The essay questions are particularly synoptic, giving students the opportunity to draw on and synthesise the knowledge, understanding and skills gained throughout the course.

Guidance on teaching and learningThe specification content is divided into two categories:

  • key concepts and terminology
  • focus

    Students should understand the meaning of the key concepts and terminolgy as these are implicit in the areas of focus for each section. Some areas require students to demonstrate awareness. These areas are mean to serve as a background to the points that require analysis and evaluation.

Subject content areas