A level Politics

Course: AQA A-Level Politics (7152)

Number of lessons per week: 5

Exam structure: 

Department vision:

In an increasingly fractured socio-political environment, the study of politics has never been more important, and we seek to give students who study the course the tools to not just interrogate today’s political landscape, but to make constructive contributions towards said landscape as well-informed citizens. It naturally follows that those who have the knowledge that A-Level Politics gives are more comfortable with the complexities of the state they live in, and the world they inhabit. However, it is instrumentally useful in other A level subjects too, not least History and Sociology where knowledge of political structures and theories are needed.

In year 12, students will study two topics in the course: Government and Politics of the UK and Government and Politics of the US. In the interest of encouraging comparative study, the topics will be taught concurrently by different teachers.


Paper 1: Government and Politics of the UK

Paper 1 comprises an in-depth study of the parliamentary system of the UK and its place in the wider political environment of this country. Students begin by looking at the unique phenomenon of the UK constitution and how its protean framework informs the work of the three branches of national government: Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court. From there, students explore the wider nature of democratic practice in the UK, analysing the impact of elections and referendums, the rise of voter fatigue and the roles played by political parties and pressure groups in political practice. Such investigations are contextualised through the study of three General Elections of historical import.

Topics covered:

• The nature and sources of the British Constitution
• The structure and role of Parliament
• The Prime Minister and cabinet
• The judiciary
• Devolution
• Democracy and participation
• Elections and referendums
• Political parties
• Pressure groups
• The European Union

Paper 2: Government and Politics of the USA

Following a similar structure to that of paper 1, students being by exploring arguably the most significant document in modern politics- the US Constitution. Students will then consider the three branches of government- Congress, The President and the Supreme Court, using their constitutional understanding to analyse the changing dynamics in American Government and politics. Students are also required to employ three comparative theories- structural theory, rational theory and cultural theory as a prism to understand both US and UK politics.

Topics covered:

• The constitutional framework of US government
• The legislative branch of government: Congress
• The executive branch of government: President
• The judicial branch of government
• The electoral process and direct democracy
• Political parties
• Pressure groups
• Civil rights

Paper 3: Political ideas
In year 13, students build an ideological framework for their parallel studies of government and politics in the UK and USA, consistent with the synoptic aims of the specification. Students examine four political ideologies; three ‘core’ ideologies- Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism and one ‘other’ ideology- presently, feminism.


An understanding of current affairs is absolutely crucial for any aspiring student of Politics, and so you should be ensuring that you read the news every day as well as reading books that will give you a deeper understanding of what is going on in the world of politics. In the second year of the course we study political ideologies, which will require you to understand why it is that politics provokes such intense conflict and debate. Listed here are some introductory texts as well as some wider reading, although this list is not exhaustive.

Keep up to date with the news

The Week (http://subscription.theweek.co.uk/subscribe/)
The Economist (https://subscriptions.economist.com)
The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/
The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
The Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/
The Times http://www.thetimes.co.uk/
BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
Politics Home http://www.politicshome.com/uk/
Labour List http://labourlist.org
Conservative Home http://www.conservativehome.com


Be aware of your sources
Try to read accounts of the same event from more than one source, to get a sense of different interpretations. A good one is to start with the Guardian, and then compare with the Telegraph coverage of the same stories. The Financial Times

What do you think?
Think about what you read. Looking at one issue more in depth i.e. reading about it in different newspapers and ‘comment is free’ – what do you think?

General Reading:

Anthony King The Blunders of Governments Bernard Crick In Defence of Politics
Gerry Stocker Why Politics Matters: Making Politics Work
Heffernan, Cowley & Hay Developments in British Politics
Julian Knight British Politics for Dummies
Kenneth Minogue Politics: A Very Short Introduction
Paul Kelly The Politics Book
Tony Wright British Politics: A Very Short Introduction
Paul Collier 'The Bottom Billion'

The UK constitution
Anthony King Who Governs Britain?
Martin Loughlin The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction

British Politics & History:
Andrew Marr A History of Modern Britain
Andrew Rawnsley The End of the Party
Ben Pimlott Harold Wilson
Charles Moore Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography (Vol. 1)
Dominic Sandbrook Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles
Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979,
State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 1964-1970
John Campbell The Iron Lady
John Murray and Anthony Sampson Who Runs This Place?: The Anatomy of Britain in the 21st Century
Jeremy Paxman published a book on the First World War and he also made a documentary based on it, Great Britain's Great War

Jonathan Powell's memoir about the Blair government is very entertaining, The New Machiavelli

Web Links
• BBC – Politics section – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/default.stm
• Democracy live – http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi
• The Guardian – http://politics.guardian.co.uk/
• History Learning Site – www.historylearningsite.co.uk/gbpolitics.htm
• Tutor2u – www.tutor2u.net/revision_notes_politics.asp
• UK Parliament – www.parliament.uk
• 10 Downing Street – www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page1.asp
• Wikipedia – www.wikipedia.org
• The Conservative Party – www.conservatives.com/
• The Labour Party – www.labour.org.uk/home
• The Liberal Democrats – www.libdems.org.uk/
• UK Polling Data http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/
• Earlham Sociology pages- https://www.earlhamsociologypages.co.uk/asanda2.html

BBC TV and Radio Programmes

• BBC Parliament
• Daily Politics
• The Politics Show
• Question Time
• Andrew Marr Show
• The Westminster Hour
• Beyond Westminster
• The Week in Westminster

Journals and Magazines

• Politics Review. Published by Philip Allan. www.philipallan.co.uk
• Total Politics. www.magazine-group.co.uk
• First Past the Post (digital magazine). www.tutor2u.net
• The New Statesman. www.newstatesman.com
• The Spectator. www.the-spectator-magazine.co.uk
• Standpoint. www.standpointmag.uk
• The Economist. www.economist.com
• Global Politics. www.global-politics.co.uk
• Prospect http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/
• This Week http://www.theweek.co.uk/

P Fairclough, R Kelly and E Magee’s 80-page UK Government and Politics AnnualSurvey (Philip Allan Updates), published each January, provides a comprehensive overview of the main developments in UK government and politics during the preceding year.

Politics PAL, the long running A5-format annual UK political update, provides another take on the year’s major developments and debates.

Political Parties & Polling:

The Conservative Party http://www.conservatives.com/
The Labour Party http://www.labour.org.uk/
The Liberal Democrats http://www.libdems.org.uk/
UK Polling Data http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/
UKIP http://www.ukip.com/







Other Podcasts:
Best of Today ∙ The Spectator ∙ The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly ∙ Westminster Hour ∙ Week in Westminster ∙ FT Politics ∙ A-level Politics by Patel’s Shop∙ Talking Politics ∙ Politics Theory Other

Use the following links for BBC Political Reviews of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017:








• Bennett A, US Government and Politics 5th Edition (2017)
• Bennett A, A2 US Government and Politics
• McKay D, (2017: 9th Edition) American Politics and Society
The constitutional framework of US government
• Taylor J, US politics: A beginner’s guide to studying US politics Politics Review 26, 1, extra resources archive (September 2016)
• Lemieux S, US politics: Ten things you need to know Politics Review 24, 4, extra resources archive (April 2015) – an article offering essential insights into the sometimes puzzling word of US politics
• Hammal R, Revision: The US Constitution Politics Review 23, 4, extra resources archive (April 2014)
• Singh R, The US Constitution: does it ensure limited government?Politics Review 23, 3 (February 2014)
• Colclough A, The US Constitution: a protection against the growth of the security state?Politics Review 25, 3 (February 2016)
The legislative branch of government: Congress
• Lemieux S, Colourful characters in Congress Politics Review 24, 2, extra resources archive (November 2014)
• Bennett A, Is Congress overly dysfunctional and partisan? Politics Review 26, 1 (September 2016)
• Hammal R. Baker A, Is Congress the ‘broken branch?’Politics Review 23, 4 (April 2014)
The executive branch of government: President
• Lemieux S. Maggs R, Is the US federal government too powerful?Politics Review 25, 4 (April 2016)
• Taylor J, What can we expect from President Trump?Politics Review 26, 3, extra resources archive (February 2017)
• Kilheeney E, What is post-truth politics?Politics Review (October 2016) e-review: – considering why lying is a key tool of today’s politicians and looking at the overturning of Obama’s veto in Congress
• Whiskerd N, The modern President: transformational leader or facilitator? Politics Review 23, 4 (April 2014)
• Axelby A, US politics: The role of the vice president Politics Review 23, 4 extra resources archive (April 2014)
• Ashbee E, Obama’s second term: success or failure?Politics Review 26, 4 (April 2017)
• Bennett A, The US Presidency: are second-term Presidents lame ducks?Politics Review 25, 4 (April 2016)
• Ivey K, President ObamaPolitics Review 24, 2, extra resources archive (November 2014)
• Ivey K, President ObamaPolitics Review 24, 2, extra resources archive (November 2014)
• Lemieux S. Tarrants R, Is Obama too cautious a president? Politics Review 24, 2 (November 2014)
• Simpson J, US politics: An assessment of Obama's first term Politics Review 22, 4, extra resources archive (April 2013)
• Bennett A, Obama’s first term: promise unfulfilled? Politics Review 22, 4 (April 2013)
The judicial branch of government
• Kilheeney E, Death of a Supreme Court justicePolitics Review (March 2016 e-review) – considering what the death of Justice Antonin Scalia means for the US Supreme Court and for Obama
• Singh R, The Supreme Court: a political, not judicial, institution?Politics Review 24, 3 (February 2015)
• Lemieux S, US politics: The US Supreme Court — bastion of conservatism or beacon of liberalism? Politics Review 23, 2 (November 2013 extra resources archive)
• Singh R, The US Supreme Court: an effective protector of civil rights and liberties? Politics Review 26, 2 (November 2016)
• Billingsley, K. Bennett, A, Does the US Supreme Court have too much power?Politics Review 22, 4 (April 2013)
The electoral process and direct democracy
• Lemieux S, US politics: Campaign finance in the USA and the First Amendment Politics Review 24, 1, extra resources archive (September 2014)
• Kilheeney E, 2016 US election resultsPolitics Review 26, 4, extra resources archive (April 2017)
• Hammal R, US politics: Filibuster or filibluster? Politics Review 23, 4, extra resources archive (April 2014)
• Shapiro K, Gerrymandering in the USAPolitics Review 24, 3 (February 2015)
• Shapiro K, Split ticket voting Politics Review 23, 4 (April 2014)
• Rathbone M, Recess appointmentsPolitics Review 26, 1 (September 2016)
• Ashbee E, The 2014 mid-term elections: How significant are they?Politics Review 24, 4 (April 2015)
• Fearnley A, Ballot measures in the USA: good or bad for democracy? Politics Review 24, 1 (September 2014)
• Lemieux S, US politics: Campaign Finance in the USA and the First Amendment Politics Review 24, 1, extra resources archive (September 2014)
• Fearnley A, Ballot measures in the USA: good or bad for democracy?Politics Review 24, 1 (September 2014)
• Ivey K, US politics: Turnout in US elections Politics Review 23, 3, extra resources archive (February 2014)
Political parties
• Shapiro K, US politics: The values of Republican and Democrat voters Politics Review 24, 3, extra resources archive (February 2015)
• Hammal R, Revision: US political parties – what’s the difference?Politics Review23, 1, extra resources archive (September 2013)

• MORE PERFECT (ideal for Supreme Court section)

• A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
• The U.S. Constitution
• Federalist Papers, nos 10, 37, 39, 46-48, 51, 52, 54, 55, 57, 62, 63, 70, 78
• R. Neustadt, Presidential Power
• R. Dahl, “Decision-Making in a Democracy: The Supreme Court as a National Policy-Maker,” Journal of Public Law 6 (1957), 279
• A. James Richley, The life of the Parties

Paper 3

• Kelly R. and McNaughton N, Political Ideas for A-level (2017)
• A Heywood, Political Ideologies (Palgrave, 2012)
• Freeden M, The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies (Oxford University Press)
• D Woodley, A2 Political Ideologies: Exam Revision Notes (2nd edition) (Philip Allan, 2009)
• Grant M. and Magee E, A2 Political Ideologies (Topic Cue Cards) (Philip Allan, 2007)
• Bloor K, The Definitive Guide to Political Ideologies (Author House, 2010)
• Hammal R, Political ideologies: Liberalism (Politics Review 24, 1, 2014) – a knowledge-check quiz
• Stansfield C, Political ideologies: Modern liberalism (Politics Review 22, 4, 2013)
• Boss G, Political ideologies: Freedom vs equality (Politics Review 23, 3, 2014)
Woodley D. and Magee E, Conservatism (Advanced Topic Masters) (Philip Allan, 2006)
• Hammal R, Political ideologies: Socialism — case studies (Politics Review 23, 2, 2013)
• Boss G, Political ideologies: Freedom vs equality (Politics Review 23, 3, 2014)
• Hoffman J, Socialism Advanced TopicMaster ( Philip Allan Updates, 2005)
• Stansfield C, Political ideologies: Femen — a new form of feminism? (Politics Review 23,1, 2013)
• Bryson V, Feminist Political Theory: an Introduction (2nd edition) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
• Walters M, Feminism: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2005)