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Government & Politics


Why Study Government & Politics?

The study of Government and Politics provides pupils with relevant and stimulating material aimed at developing their skills and critical awareness of political ideas, institutions and processes, including a particular emphasis on Northern Irish politics. The course encourages students to explore and examine their own values, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions, making judgements and ultimately reaching decisions regarding the society in which they live.

Course Structure


Like other AS /A2 subjects, the course is divided into 2 modules at AS and a further 2 at A2.

In Year 13 you will study Northern Irish politics in AS Module 1 – that means focusing on what the politicians do (or don't do) in Stormont, what the various Northern Irish political parties stand for, how their views have changed since the 'signing' of the 1998 Belfast / Good Friday Agreement and what the alternatives to our current system may be – would Northern Ireland be better off being run from London? Or perhaps a United Ireland is the way forward for our province? Students of Northern Irish politics get a real opportunity to examine their own beliefs and, through questioning, either confirm or move away from ways of thinking that they may have taken for granted up to this point.


AS Module 2 – In this module you will study the British Political Process: the institutions, procedures and key personalities from past and present that have helped to shape the United Kingdom into its current form. There are several key themes that run through this course from the ability of Parliament and the Judiciary to check the increasing power of the Executive to the arguments surrounding the current role of the Prime Minister and the accusation that their power is more akin to that of the US President.

In Year 14, the focus moves to American politics. In A2 Module 1 pupils get the opportunity to compare the US political process with the British system. We attempt to understand the US system in a similar way that we approach the study of the British system at AS by looking at institutions, procedures and key personalities. In studying the US Constitution we will be answering questions such as What rights do American citizens have? Does the United States Constitution actually work fairly for all Americans? We look at the ability of the US Congress and Supreme Court to hold the Executive to account and the role of the US President; is he really the most powerful man in the world? Throughout the module we compare the US and British system to see if similarities and differences exist, all the while attempting to assess which is more effective.

A2 Module 2 – In this module pupils get an opportunity to study the means and distribution of power in a local and global context. Pupils study concepts such as coercion, legitimacy and stability in assessing how power is used by states and individuals. Then we go on to look at the different theories explaining how power is distributed in society, with the ideas and exponents' of Elitist, Pluralist, Marxist and Feminist theories getting closest attention.

What do I need to know before taking the courses?

You do not need to have studied Politics for GCSE in order to take an AS or A2 level in the subject. It is more important to have an enquiring and lively mind, along with an interest in politics and current affairs, a desire to explore new ideas and an ability to communicate your ideas effectively.

What kind of student is this course suitable for?

This course will appeal to those students who:
• Enjoy voicing their opinions, debating current affairs and political issues generally
• Like doing a subject that affects their everyday lives
• Have a keen appreciation of the need to participate in society
• Aren't afraid of dealing with controversial matters.

What We Study In Government and Politics

All papers are a combination of short structured answers and more extended writing.



AS Module 1 The Government and Politics of Northern Ireland (40% AS)

AS Module 2 The British Political Process (60%)

A2 Module 1 Comparative Government UK / USA (30% A2)

Module 2 Political power and Political Ideas (20% A2)


Miss F McKinley MEd BA PGCE PQH (Head of Department)

Mr R Gorman MEd BA PGCE

The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism whether governmental or popular.

- M.K Gandhi

Career Options

Obviously, anyone who would like to study politics further should be taking the subject for 'A' level. Anyone interested in careers such as Law, Journalism, the media, Social Work or any kind of public administration should consider studying politics.


Aside from preparing students for specific fields of employment, Government and Politics teaches many vital transferable academic skills such as the ability to properly formulate and communicate effective argument, along with the capacity to solve problems, think analytically, critically and logically.

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