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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 parties? 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 candidates. - 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 sovereignty. - 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. marketisation 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. etc. 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 examination.) 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 making - 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 responses. - 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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