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“Politics is how people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live. It is social; it is about working with others. This may involve diversity and conflict but also a willingness to co-operate and act collectively. Politics can be seen as a search for conflict resolution and not simply its achievement, as not all conflicts are, or can be, resolved.”

The politics of a geographical or political unit shapes the lives of all the people who live in that area. Understanding politics gives people the skills and knowledge to be effectively involved in the decision-making process.

(From: Education Scotland)


Politics is one of three A-level courses offered by the Department of Classics and Political Sciences.

Students are entered for EDEXCEL’s two-year A-level course (9PL0). This is a full two year course for final examination. (We do not offer a one-year AS course.)

This subject allows students with an interest in current affairs to learn about how the UK is run and how they, as individuals, can make a difference.

The study of GCE Politics involves learning about the decisions that take place when running a country. The course teaches students about the different viewpoints held by decision makers in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The course also investigates the importance of the rights and responsibilities of people. Also, how individuals can make a difference to the lives of all citizens.

The people elected to local councils, the UK Parliament, and the European Parliament make decisions that affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. These include decisions that affect your home, schools, the workplace, health, defence and the environment. It matters to each and every person who is represented by politicians at local, national and international level that they reflect our values and principles.

Students must obtain a GCSE Grade 6 or higher in History or English to be eligible for enrolment in this course. It is very beneficial for Law A-level students to take this A-level as well, but it also goes well with Ancient History and/or History.


KEY STAGE 5, POLITICS – Years 12 & 13 

Paper 1 (Unit 9PL0-01) – UK Politics

Section A:  Political Participation

  • Overview of Topic

Students will investigate in detail how people and politics interact. They will explore the emergence and development of the UK’s democratic system. They will focus on the role and scope of political parties, including the significance of the manifestos they publish at election time and their relevance to the mandate of the resulting government.

Students will examine how electoral systems in the UK operate and how individuals and groups are influenced in their voting behaviour and political actions. This component will further examine the role of the media in contemporary politics and will give students an understanding of voting patterns and voting behaviour.

Key Issues

  • Democracy and participation
  • Political parties
  • Electoral systems
  • Voting behaviour and the media

Section B:  Core Political Ideas

  • Overview of Topic

This section allows students to explore the three traditional political ideas of the main political parties in England. Students will learn about their key thinkers, core ideas and principles and how they apply in practice to human nature, the state, society and the economy.

Key Issues

  • Liberalism
  • Conservatism
  • Socialism

Paper 2 (Unit 9PL0-02) – UK Government

Section A:  UK Government

  • Overview of Topic

This component is fundamental to understanding the nature of UK government, since it enables students to understand where, how and by whom political decisions are made. The component also gives students a base of comparison to other political systems.

The component introduces students to the set of rules governing politics in the UK, the UK constitution, which is different in nature from most of the rest of the world. It further introduces students to the specific roles and powers of the different major branches of the government – legislative, executive, and judiciary – as well as the relationships and balance of power between them, and considers where sovereignty now lies within this system.

Students will explore the following key themes: the relative powers of the different branches of UK government; the extent to which the constitution has changed in recent years; the desirability of further change;  and the current location of sovereignty within the UK political system.

Key Issues

  • The constitution
  • Parliament
  • Prime Minister and executive
  • Relationships between the branches.

Section B:  Nationalism

  • Overview of Topic

The syllabus requires the study of a non-core political idea; GMS has chosen nationalism. This political philosophy believes that nations are a timeless phenomenon. Nationalism is based on the belief that people have been attached to the practices connected with their heritage and seek to continue them freely. Students will learn about the core ideas and principles, the effects of these ideas, the divisions within each idea and their key thinkers.

Key Issues

  • Nationalism: ideas and principles
  • Different types of nationalism
  • Nationalist thinkers and their ideas

Paper 3 (Unit 9PL0-3A) – The USA

Section A:  US Government and Politics 

  • Overview of Topic

The USA has been considered by some to be a ‘beacon of democracy’. Understanding the nature of US democracy, and the debates surrounding it, is crucial given the considerable impact that the USA has on UK, European and global politics.

Students will explore the US Constitution and the arguments surrounding this guiding document of US democracy. In learning about the key institutions of government in the USA and analysing the manner in which they achieve this power and exercise it over their citizens, students will judge ultimately whether ‘liberty and justice for all’ has been achieved in the USA. Students will be expected to highlight the debates on the nature of democracy in the USA and evaluate the extent to which it remains an issue.

Key Issues

  • The US constitution and federalism
  • US Congress
  • US Presidency
  • US Supreme Court and US civil rights
  • US democracy and participation

Section B:  Comparing UK and US Government and Politics

  • Overview of Topic

The impact of the US government on the world beyond its borders is increasingly a feature of international politics. Students will begin to engage with this interaction by comparing and contrasting politics and institutions in the US with those in the UK. This will develop a wider understanding of politics as a discipline, underpinned by the theoretical concepts of comparative politics.

Key Issues

  • Comparative theories

How is the course taught?

Teaching is in small groups and is shared by three different teachers using a variety of teaching styles and resources.   The course culminates with three two-hour exam papers. There is no coursework.


Armed Services Intelligence Services Politician
Campaigner International Development Political Researcher
Civil Servant Journalist Public Affairs
EU Careers Local Government Official Social Scientist
Events Management Market Research


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