Unit 1 – People and politics
 This unit introduces students to the study of politics by looking at the central ideas of citizenship, democracy and
 participation, and by examining the representative processes in the UK.

 Content outline                  Content explanation                           Additional Guidance
 Why are political
 participation and
 democracy important?

 government/state                 -    a basic introduction of the nature of    An understanding of the difference
 power/authority                       power and how power becomes              between power and authority.
 legitimacy                            legitimate authority. An
 citizenship                           understanding of citizenship and of      An understanding of the nature of
 rights/obligations                    the role of political participation in   citizenship and an awareness of the
                                       preserving the rights and freedoms of    different interpretations of it, including
                                       the individual.                          the rights and obligations of citizens.

                                  -    a knowledge of the different forms of    Direct and representative democracy
 democracy                             democracy and, in particular, of the     will be addressed, along with the
                                       main features of a representative        advantages and disadvantages of each.
                                       democracy.                               Although questions will not be set on
                                                                                ‘liberal democracy’, an awareness of
                                                                                the key features of liberal democratic
                                                                                government will help candidates to
                                                                                discuss the nature of representative
                                                                                democracy. There will be no
                                                                                assessment of ‘people’s democracy’ or
                                                                                ‘third-world democracy’.
 Do elections guarantee           -    an awareness of the relationship
 democracy?                            between elections and democracy
                                       and a comparative knowledge of the
 Representation                        different types of electoral system
 proportional representation           used in the UK and of their
 electoral mandate                     implications. A knowledge of how
 referendums                           and why referendums are used and an
                                       ability to discuss their value. The
                                       issue of electoral reform is covered
                                       in Unit 3.
 What is the role of political

 political party                  -    a knowledge of the functions of          No knowledge of the detailed internal
                                       political parties and an ability to      workings of the political parties is
 consensus/                            discuss the relationship between         required, although candidates may
 adversary politics                    political parties and democracy. A       wish to refer to certain features of
 liberalism                            knowledge of the ideologies, theories    individual political parties, when
 conservatism                          and traditions of the major UK           discussing democracy. The election of
 socialism                             political parties. The issue of the      party leaders is of relevance to prime
                                       party system is covered in Unit 3.       ministerial power, examined in Unit 2,
                                                                                but no questions will be set
                                                                                specifically on this topic.
 How important are
 pressure groups?

 pressure group                   -    a knowledge of different categories      Candidates will be expected to
 sectional/promotional groups          of pressure group; the factors that      understanding the European/global
 insider/outsider groups               contribute to their success; the         context in which pressure groups
 pluralism                             relationship between pressure groups     operate.
                                       and democracy.
                                                                                Candidates should be familiar with the
                                                                                methods used by pressure groups to
                                                                                exert influence.
Unit 2 – Governing the UK

This unit provides an introduction to the major institutions of UK government, examines their
relationships with one another and considers their effectiveness.

Content outline                         Content explanation                      Additional Guidance
What is the nature of the UK            - an understanding of the nature,        Questions will not be set on the EU
constitution?                               workings and major principles        specifically, but candidates may raise
                                            of the UK constitution within        the issue of UK membership of the
constitution, types of constitutional       the context of EU membership         EU if it gives added relevance to an
government parliamentary                    and a comparative knowledge of       answer.
sovereignty                                 different types of constitution.
                                            (The issue of constitutional         No questions will be set on the
                                            reform is covered in Unit 3.)        monarchy. Knowledge of the
                                                                                 monarchy may, however, be related
                                                                                 to questions on, for example, the
                                                                                 constitution and Parliament.

                                                                                 Candidates should understand the
                                                                                 difference between a codified and an
                                                                                 uncodified constitution and a federal
                                                                                 and a unitary constitution. The issue
                                                                                 of federalism however is covered in
                                                                                 Unit 3.

What is the role and significance of    -   a knowledge of the functions of      Questions may be asked about the
Parliament?                                 Parliament and an ability to         separate roles and significance of the
                                            discuss how well these functions     House of Commons and the House
parliamentary government                    are performed; in particular, the    of Lords.
presidential government                     relationship between Parliament
fusion/separation of powers                 and the Executive. (The issue of
representative government                   parliamentary reform is
                                            examined in Unit 3.)

                                        -   a comparative knowledge of the
                                            difference between
                                            parliamentary and presidential
                                            systems is required.
Who has power within the                -   A knowledge of the distribution      No detailed knowledge of the inner
executive?                                  of power within the UK               workings of the civil service or their
                                            executive. A knowledge of the        executive agencies will be required.
cabinet government                          factors that influence the           However, an awareness of the
prime ministerial government                relationship between the prime       implications for civil service
accountability                              minister and the cabinet. A          accountability of the Next Steps
ministerial responsibility                  knowledge of the relationship        reforms may be helpful.
political neutrality                        between ministers and civil
open government                             servants and of their                Candidates should understand the
                                            accountability to Parliament and     mean of open government and the
                                            the public. (Unit 3 addresses the    extent to which it is achieved.
                                            issue of reform).

Do judges deliver justice and           - a knowledge of the role of the         No detailed knowledge of the
defend freedom?                         courts in relation to Parliament and     workings of the court system will be
                                        the executive. an understanding of       required.
judicial independence                   the impact of the courts on the issues
judicial neutrality                     of civil liberties and individual
civil liberty                           rights.
Unit 3 – The changing UK system

This unit examines key issues affecting the development of the UK system and considers the
impact and desirability of political and constitutional change.

Content outline                      Content explanation                     Additional Guidance
Do elections change anything?        - this unit builds on the
                                         knowledge of concepts and
                                         institutions developed in Units 1
                                         and 2.
party system
electoral reform                     -   a knowledge of the impact of        Questions on the party system will
                                         recent general elections and, in    focus on Westminster elections.
                                         particular, of the changing party   Data will (where practicable) be
                                         system. An ability to discuss the   drawn from the most recent general
                                         adequacy of the electoral system    elections although an ability to
                                         for the House of Commons and        compare these results with earlier
                                         the case for electoral reform.      general elections may be helpful to
                                     -   a knowledge of, and ability to
Is there a need for constitutional       evaluate, the constitutional        Candidates will not need to explain
reform?                                  reforms that have been              or discuss voting behaviour although
                                         introduced in recent years or are   they may be required to make
constitutional reform                    on the political agenda, notably    reference to factors that explain the
parliamentary reform                     ones that affect the power and      outcomes of recent general elections.
pluralism                                accountability of the executive
                                         and the role and effectiveness of   Questions will only focus on
                                         Parliament.                         constitutional developments since
                                                                             1997. However, candidates may
                                     -   a knowledge of the different        wish to make reference to pre-1997
                                         views on constitutional reform      developments to provide a context
                                         of the major parties.               for the points they wish to make.
How united is the UK?                -   a knowledge of the devolution       Questions will focus on devolution
                                         process and of the impact of the    rather than the detail of local
devolution                               territorial distribution of power   government, although an
federalism                               on the integrity of the UK,         understanding of local/central
nationalism                              particularly in terms of the        relations will be beneficial. No
regionalism                              relationship between devolved       detailed knowledge of the devolved
local democracy                          bodies and central government.      bodies will be required.

                                     -   a knowledge of the forces and
                                         factors that are fuelling           Questions will not be set on the
                                         decentralisation in the UK, and     Northern Ireland Assembly or the
                                         an ability to discuss the           Welsh Assembly on their own, but
                                         adequacy of different               there may be questions just about
                                         constitutional solutions in         Scottish devolution and the Scottish
                                         different parts of the UK.          Parliament.

                                     -   a knowledge of the developing       No detailed knowledge of the EU
                                         relationship between the UK and     institutions will be required, but
How has EU membership affected           the EU, and of the general          candidates should be aware of their
the political system?                    political and constitutional        broad roles and significance.
                                         implications of EU membership
national sovereignty European            for the UK system, especially in
federalism                               relation to the issue of

                                     -   a general knowledge of differing
                                         positions within and between        The detailed focus will be after 1997,
                                         major parties in relation to the    but a wider general historical context
                                         EU.                                 will be helpful to candidates.
                                                A2 Specification for Route A
Unit 4A – UK Political Issues

This unit examines key policy issues in the UK, particularly those that have affected the outcomes of general
elections or stimulated wide-ranging public debate

Content outline    Content explanation                                     Additional guidance
The economy        - this unit focuses upon the key policy issues in       - Although a general understanding of the
                       UK politics. It is important to note overlaps          distinctions between Keynesian and monetarist or
interventionism        between Unit 4A and Unit 5A, in that UK policy         neo-liberal policies is required, specialised
free market            is increasingly shaped by decisions taken at the       knowledge of economic theory will not be required.
Keynesianism           EU level; however, questions specifically
nationalisation        addressing EU policy and issues will only           -   Knowledge of the nature of New Labour Third Way
privatisation          appear in Unit 5A. Students need to understand          economics will be required, as will a knowledge of
                       the changing policy agenda in the UK since              the main current policies of the government in
                       1945, and be aware of the policies of major             power.
                       parties over the period. However, the main
                       focus of this unit will be on contemporary          -   It is advisable that students have knowledge of key
                       developments in the post 1979 period.                   economic events since 1979 such as recessions and
                                                                               booms, the ERM, EU convergence, the Bank of
                   -   a knowledge of the general relationship between         England and interest rates.
                       the state and the market in economic policy and
                       of debates about the role of economic
                       management, as well as specific knowledge of
                       policies in relation to nationalisation,
                       employment, inflation, taxation, exchange rates,
                       prices and incomes, and the unions.
The welfare        -   a general knowledge of the scope and scale of       -   Although students should have a generalised
state                  welfare provision and of the changing emphasis          knowledge of the principles of the Welfare state as
                       of the welfare debate in the UK.                        envisaged in the 1940s, no detailed knowledge will
welfare state                                                                  be required.
social rights      -   a knowledge of party positions and developing
social security        public policy related to the benefits or social     -   Special awareness should be shown of policies
individual             security system, the education system, the health       concerning welfare issues since 1997, although a
responsibility         service and housing provision.                          general knowledge since 1979 is also needed.

Law and order      -   a knowledge of party positions and developing       -   Knowledge is expected of the main pieces of
                       public policy related to crime and public order.        legislation concerning law and order issues over the
public order           This includes changing attitudes towards prison         past five years. Over the same period, students
crime                  policy and towards police powers and                    should also have knowledge of major events, which
punishment             accountability.                                         may have shaped political debate.

Race and           -   an awareness of general issues related to           -   Knowledge should be shown of major events,
ethnicity              race/ethnicity and race relations within the UK,        which have shaped policy and opinion on racial
                       in particular a knowledge of party positions and        issues, such as the Stephen Lawrence case.
racism                 public policy on race and racial
discrimination         discrimination/inequality and of attempts to        -   It is advisable to have a background knowledge of
multiculturalism       promote racial harmony.                                 the legislation on race dating back to the 1960s.
minority rights

Northern           -   a knowledge of he causes and development of         -   Students should have some understanding of the
Ireland                political conflict in Northern Ireland and of UK        origins of he problem dating back to the partition of
                       policy in relation to Northern Ireland, paying          Ireland. However, no detailed knowledge will be
nationalism            particular attention to the post-1969 period, and       required.
sovereignty            an ability to evaluate the various attempts to
unionism               resolve the conflict.                               -   Detailed knowledge will especially be required of
republicanism                                                                  the period leading up to, and following, the Good
terrorism                                                                      Friday Agreement. The positions of the Northern
                                                                               Ireland parties on proposed settlement should be
                                                                               understood thoroughly.
Unit 5A – The EU and European Issues

This unit examines political issues that have arisen as a result of the process of European integration and, in
particular, ones that are linked to the UK’s membership of the EU.

Content outline               Key concepts                                              Additional guidance
European co-operation and     - a knowledge of the major stages in the process of       - Students will be expected to be
the UK                            European integration since 1945 and of the               familiar with recent developments,
                                  developing relationship between the UK and the           from the past three years, of issues
functionalism                     EEC/EC/EU. However, the main focus of the unit           concerning the integration of
neo-functionalism                 will be on contemporary developments in the post-        Europe including new policy
Euro-federalism                   1979 period. Students will not be expected to have       initiatives both in the UK and in the
                                  a detailed knowledge of the treaties, but should be      rest of Europe. Similarly, students
                                  aware of their general thrust and significance.          should have knowledge of
                                                                                           contemporary disputes about the
                                                                                           future course of the EU.

Political systems of the EU   -   a knowledge of the key EU institutions and of the     -   Students should be familiar with
                                  balance of policy-making power between them; a            changes, which may have taken
intergovernmentalism              knowledge of the role of transnational political          place in the functioning of, or
superanationalism                 groupings and pressure groups and of their policy         relationships between, institutions.
democratic deficit                impact.
                                                                                        -   Knowledge of recent significant
                              -   a knowledge of debates about the political                legal cases in the Court of Justice
                                  effectiveness and democratic accountability of EU         should be required.
                                  institutions, and of proposals for political reform
                                  within the EU.

European integration and      -   a knowledge of how and why the process of             -   No specialised knowledge of
economic policy                   European integration accelerated from the 1980s           economic theory will be required,
                                  onwards and of the major developments through             although the general issues
political union                   which this occurred, e.g. the single market,              concerning the single market and
economic union                    monetary union, growing use of Qualified                  the single currency should be
monetary union                    Majority Voting (QMV), the enlargement debate,            understood.

EU policy areas               -   a knowledge of the general development of EU
                                  policy in areas such as agriculture, fishing, the
                                  environment, the regions and anti-discriminatory
                                  legislation. (Students will not be expected to have
                                  a knowledge of all EU policies, but only those that
                                  have been important or newsworthy in the UK
                                  during the three years preceding the date of the
Impact of EU membership       -   a knowledge of ways in which European Union           - Political parties here refers not only to
upon institutions and the         policy making, policies and institutions have         the three main British parties, but also
policy process                    influenced the policy process in the UK and           nationalists and ‘minority’ parties such
                                  altered the distribution of policy-making power.      as the UK Independence Party or the
parliamentary and national                                                              Greens.
sovereignty                   -   a particular knowledge of how EU membership
‘pooling’ sovereignty             has impacted on UK political parties and pressure
regionalism                       groups and altered the constitutional and political
citizenship                       structure of UK government, including the
subsidiarity                      relationship between and amongst institutions.
                                  Note that this goes beyond a narrow concern with
                                  the sovereignty debate and addresses issues such
                                  as the impact of EU membership upon devolution,
                                  and therefore the unity of the UK, and the
                                  implications of EU membership for citizenship.
Unit 6A – Policy-Making in the UK

This unit examines the interplay between policy issues and institutions, and draws together knowledge and
understanding developed in the AS Level and in Units 4A and 5A

Content outline           Key concepts                                    Additional guidance
Institutions and policy
                          -   a knowledge of the ways in which            -   In general, synoptic questions
political issue               political parties, pressure groups              will require a longer
public policy                 elections and referendums help to set the       perspective on key issues
agenda setting                policy agenda, and of how policies are          within Britain or concerning
policy initiation             formulated and decided through the              the EU. Although particular
policy formulation            legislative and executive processes of          knowledge of issues in the
pressure/influence            government, within the context of EU            past three years will still be
                              membership. The focus will be on the            required, it will more often be
                              key economic, social and European               true that the general picture
                              policies addressed in Units 4a and 5a.          since 1979 is expected in
                          -   although a general understanding of the
                              policy process is helpful, no knowledge
                              of the theory of policy analysis or of
                              technical matters related to the policy
                              process, such as the role of policy
                              networks, is required.

                          -   note that although the emphasis of this  -      Specific questions concerning
                              unit is upon recent policy developments,        the period 1945-79 will not be
                              a knowledge of general developments in          set. Knowledge of this period
                              the post 1945 period will be helpful for        is only required for
                              students. However, the main focus of the        background.
                              unit will be on contemporary
                              developments in the post 1979 period.

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