"In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” - Mark Twain
Politics is one of the fastest growing A levels in the UK in recent years.  At Ampleforth, we follow the AQA A Level specification which allows students to understand how power is used and distributed in the world around them, why world-changing events happen, and what is necessary for societies to survive and be stable.  Our delivery of Politics encourages critical reflection, balanced analysis and informed debate.  We aim to develop our students’ skills in relation to understanding key political concepts and theories, communicating their arguments in a coherent and logical manner, and identifying parallels, connections, similarities and differences between aspects of the areas of politics studied.  We also hope to encourage our students to be active and well-informed citizens who can play a role in their communities and have a reasoned opinion on key, topical issues.  

Course Aims

  • Studying this subject teaches students to understand what is happening to liberal democracy in the world around them, and whether it has a future.
  • Students learn to make sense of Trump, Brexit, Corbyn and Sturgeon. They gain a clear understanding of the theories, motives and values that make politics happen.  They practise the skill of analysing and expounding that persuasively to someone else.
  • The A level compares US politics with UK politics and links events and facts to the political ideas which underlie them: conservatism, liberalism, socialism, anarchism, and feminism.

The A level Course

Students are assessed across three papers, which include questions requiring a mixture of short, medium and longer responses.  These are:
1) Government and Politics of the UK
Students will understand why maintaining a majority in parliament has been difficult for the Prime Minister, why the Cabinet threatens to get out of her (at the time of writing!) control, and why the constitution has changed and may need to change further. They will also study the judiciary and devolution, participative democracy, elections, parties, and pressure groups.
2) Government and Politics of the USA and Comparative Politics
Here students compare the equivalent political system of the USA: the US constitution, Congress, the Presidency, the judiciary, elections, American parties, American pressure groups and civil rights. The comparative politics element of the course is excellent preparation not just for Politics courses at university but for university in general, because it teaches students how to master unfamiliar material and relate it to what they already know.
3) Political Ideas
Here students look at the ideas which underpin and justify the other things we have studied: the key thinkers in liberalism, conservatism and socialism, as well as anarchism and feminism.
You can access a copy of the specification here.

Politics-based Societies

The Department facilitates student participation in a range of extra-curricular activities; politics-related opportunities include weekly Westminster Society and Pankhurst Society meetings, and participation in Model United Nations and Model European Parliament conferences.  We host a range of visiting speakers and encourage students to undertake work experience with their MP or similar.  More widely, there is a lively debating society within the College.