Politics

Politics is one of the fastest growing A levels in the UK in recent years and is one of the most popular A Level subjects at Ampleforth College.  

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. 

Department aims and approach

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.  

We put the voice of the student at the centre of our learning: our priorities are discussion and debate; the free exchange of views; and the greatest possible understanding of and sensitivity to the world around us. We want students who, in Aristotle’s terms, can entertain a thought without accepting it. Our growth in wisdom lesson-by-lesson is underpinned by the notion that good ideas will overcome bad, and, through our learning and dialogue, we will be renewed as people.

‘Listen!’ – that great imperative of St Benedict – is key to our study of Politics, as we are attentive to the diverse views of others. Through the study of government, we are mindful of our privileges and responsibility, as citizens, to positively impact public debate and policy.

Outline of course 

There are three components to study:

  1. Government and Politics of the UK including the following topics: UK Constitution; Parliament; Prime Minister; Judiciary; Political Parties; Pressure Groups; Democracy and Participation; Elections.
  2. Government and Politics of the USA (with comparisons to the UK) including the following topics: USA Constitution; Congress; President; Judiciary; Elections; Civil Rights; Political Parties; Pressure Groups. 
  3. Political Ideas 

Including the following topics: liberalism; socialism; conservatism; feminism. 

You can access a copy of the specification here.

Super-curricular opportunities 

The Politics Department hosts a range of visiting speakers to enrich our students’ experience. Students are encouraged to join the Westminster Society - our current affairs discussion group – and there is a flourishing Debating Society at Ampleforth College.

University and careers

A high proportion of A Level Politics students at Ampleforth go on to study Politics or a related course, such as International Relations, at university. The Department is experienced at preparing students for successful admission to Russell Group universities, Oxbridge, and institutions in the USA and Europe. 

Staff

Chris Starkey BA (Oxon), PGCE (Buckingham)
Chris Starkey read History at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and trained as a teacher at the University of Buckingham. He taught History as well as Politics at Ampleforth and became Head of Politics as the subject grew in popularity. Chris is Housemaster of St John’s House and is always keen to discuss current affairs with the students there. A former Vice-President of the Oxford Union Society, Chris led the Ampleforth Debating Society for several years. He is an examiner of A Level History and Politics.

James Rainer BA, MA (Dunelm)
James arrived at Ampleforth in 2010 having spent four years studying at St John's College, University of Durham, where he was in receipt of a bursary from the Centre for Catholic Studies.  James has a BA in Theology and Religion and an MA in Religion and Society, specialising in the relationship between religion and the public square. James is also the Housemaster of St Cuthbert's House.