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AS and A Level: United Kingdom

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How to become a successful politics student

  1. 1 Enjoy the subject – Politics is all around you so make sure you watch the news, read newspapers and look online at what is happening in the world. Sign up for updates from news organisations.
  2. 2 Read around the subject – There are lots of political books that will help you to gain a wider perspective of the subject, these range from autobiographies of past Prime Ministers to how varying British parties have developed.
  3. 3 Watch TV – There are lots of politics programmes which will help up to understand how politics works in reality and help to gain your own examples.
  4. 4 Make sure you know enough for the exam – Remember you will always need to know and be able to understand more than the limitations of any specification.
  5. 5 Use political vocabulary correctly – Try explaining new words and concepts to friends and family so that you get used to the using the new language.

Five things to remember when answering essay style questions

  1. 1 Make sure you focus on the question being asked. It is tempting to include everything you know in an answer but the test is what you select in relation to the question.
  2. 2 Ensure you understand what is meant by the ‘command word’ – Every question contains a specific command such as ‘Distinguish between...’, ‘To what extent...?’, ‘How effectively...?’, ‘Discuss’.
    Learn what is expected for each command word.
  3. 3 Make sure you have planned your answer so that you have a clear structure. You need to define three or four areas to be dealt with systematically. Remember that each point or area or discussion should be easy to identify.
  4. 4 Provide relevant evidence to illustrate points being made – Students often struggle to get the right balance between theory and evidence, either making their answers over theoretical or just writing one example after another. You must remember to use the evidence to support claims you making.
  5. 5 Make sure you have explored different viewpoints, theories and concepts as this will help to make sure that your answer is balanced. Do not allow your answer to be subjective.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 27
  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent is there a democratic deficit in the UK?

    4 star(s)

    The reason for this being undemocratic is because in a true democracy all minorities should be given an equal voice. Another effect of the FPTP is that it can lead to un-proportional seats in the House of commons, this is shown where the liberal democrats won 23% of votes but only awarded with 9% of the seats. Another major reason to suggest a democratic deficit could be because that there has been a fall in political participation.

    • Word count: 923
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Long-term factors are no longer important in explaining voting behaviour in the UK. Discuss.

    4 star(s)

    In the last three elections, Labour has also increased their support among C1 voters. Despite this, a large percentage of AB voters returned to Conservatives in 2010 as well as C1's and C2's. This shows that the influence of social class is changing and probably declining but it still remains the most powerful of all the long term factors in determining which party people vote for in an election. Other than that, it is known that young people tend to cast their vote for more left-wing groups and then move further to the rights as they get older.

    • Word count: 1361
  3. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does Parliament control executive power?

    4 star(s)

    The doctrine of the mandate, by contrast, suggests that MPs serve their constituents by 'toeing a party line'. This can also affect debates such as adjournment debates. They allow for back benchers to examine and discuss government policy. This therefore reduces government power as it requires government to justify and examine its own actions. 'No confidence' debates can also bring down a government eg in 1979 when this was proved. However, the power of legislative debates is subject to a 'guillotine'. The vote in debates is also usually a foregone conclusion based upon party strengths and lobby fodder.

    • Word count: 984
  4. Marked by a teacher

    To What Extent Is The UK Democratic?

    4 star(s)

    Even though this aspect of Britain's governmental system is undemocratic, parliament generally prevents government from taking too much power. Another way in which the UK is undemocratic is fairly similar to the reason above. As we do not have a written constitution, many of our rules are not entrenched. An example of this is the Human Rights act. Therefore, the government are free to alter these when they please which is undemocratic as, again, they government have too much power that could be abused.

    • Word count: 940
  5. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does the prime minister control the cabinet?

    4 star(s)

    The first is that the Prime Minister chairs cabinet meetings, and manages the agendas, as well as summing up the decisions at the end. This means that the PM has a great deal of control over the meetings, and can direct them in a course that suits what the PM wants. Combine this with the fact that the Prime Minister convenes cabinet meetings and decides when they are called and sets their length - it means that in effect, the PM determines the role and significance of the entire cabinet.

    • Word count: 817
  6. Marked by a teacher

    How successful has constitutional reform been since 1997 ?

    3 star(s)

    The Labour partys' policy dealt with social Political, Economic problems as well as Foreign policy. In Terms of 'social' They increased spending on public services such as health, education, and welfare They also in 2001 , increased support for single working mothers, and partial nursery funding for pre school children . However the ban on fox hunting did not go through until 2005. These things all fall into the category of one of the main aims of the Labour party which was restoration of rights because during the 1980's the only thing generally feared more than communism was the erosion of British citizens rights and the Labour party felt the need to bring Europe more in line on this issue .

    • Word count: 1278
  7. Marked by a teacher

    Functions of the House of Commons and how it makes Government accountable.

    3 star(s)

    By doing this it controls the power of Government as representation from other parties apart from the ones in power are able to get their view across and therefore stops the Government doing whatever they please. Another way in which the House of Commons can control the power of Government is by calling a no confidence vote in Government and dismissing the Government.

    • Word count: 1177
  8. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does the Conservative party still follow Thatcherite principals?

    3 star(s)

    Also, Thatcher believed that taxes should be kept low as it would create more wealth for people and businesses. Not only would the extra wealth help people buy a property or allow businesses to expand more, it would also reduce government spending on welfare benefits. The conservatives still believe in reducing tax when possible, however due to the economic recession in 2008 and the countries huge debt, tax cuts have been put on hold.

    • Word count: 579
  9. Marked by a teacher

    Does the UK suffer from Democratic Deficit?

    3 star(s)

    This statistic also shoes that FPTP favours large parties but seriously disadvantages small parties. This is undemocratic because in a true democracy all minorities should be given an equal voice. In addition, the effect of FPTP leads to an unproportional House of Commons. For example, in the 2010 general elections, the Liberal Democrats won 23% of votes, yet were only awarded with 9% of seats.

    • Word count: 519
  10. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the arguments in favour of the greater use of Direct Democracy in the UK (25) :

    3 star(s)

    On the other hand, the current elected Parliament is also misrepresentative of the populace; 51% of the population is female, but only 22% of the seats in the House of Commons are held by women, and only 21% in that of Lords. To decide whether I think there should be an increase in the use of Direct Democracy in the UK, I will need to assess the arguments in favour; 'Allows people to have more of an effect on Politics, and is therefore more legitimate', 'Public will be more informed about current political issues', and, 'Increased public participation may help

    • Word count: 978
  11. Marked by a teacher

    Describe the key international institutions and their impact on UK public services:

    3 star(s)

    It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions. The United Nations supports the key role the UK public services have in the UN peacekeeping operations and military action. E.g. in Afghanistan and Iraq. The UN can utilise the armed and civilian public services to help maintain peace and resolve conflict globally. The decisions the UN make can a have a big impact on the UK public services. They may be required to support peacekeeping operations to provide and deliver aid in times of large scales overseas disaster such as the Asian tsunami in 2004.

    • Word count: 923
  12. Marked by a teacher

    Leadership styles

    3 star(s)

    Generally, this approach is not considered to be the most appropriate way to get the best response from a team in ordinary working life, but it has distinct advantages in situations where there is great urgency and pressure to achieve, such as the armed forces. Autocratic leaders may rely on threats or intimidation to ensure that followers conform to what the leader requires. In addition, this approach could devalue team members by ignoring their expertise and input and discouraging demonstrations of initiative.

    • Word count: 2819
  13. Marked by a teacher

    Impact of government policies

    3 star(s)

    Examples of human rights: * right to life * right to free elections * right to a fair trial * freedom of expression * prohibition of torture Finance - In order for the public services to operate they need a flow of funds to cover expenses such as equipment and infrastructure. Therefore the financial policies of the government have an incredible impact on the public services. Public money is so important that if the money used to fund the services is reduced then this will have an impact on the work the services can afford.

    • Word count: 2203
  14. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the Criticisms of the Various Electoral Systems Used In the UK

    3 star(s)

    In 1997, Labour gained 43.2% of the votes which was considered a landslide victory and gave them 63.6% of seats in parliament. Critics also say that the system is very harsh on small parties, under representing them within parliament. An example of this was in May 2005 when the Liberal Democrats improved their overall position in the votes but this was not reflected in their representation within parliament. If the outcome had been completely proportional, the Liberal Democrats would have achieved 142 seats.

    • Word count: 1213
  15. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss how effectively rights are protected in the UK.

    3 star(s)

    Labour also introduced control orders (curfews, tagging, bans on telephone and internet use and ultimately house arrest) on suspects without trial which stops civil liberties with people being stuck in on place unable to live their life. Therefore due to detention without trial civil liberties are under threat as they stop people living their life without them ever coming under trial. Also due to Labour introducing ID cards civil liberties are not well protected, ID cards are viewed as an invasion of privacy and a denial of the presumption of innocence further adding to the Big Brother society under the

    • Word count: 771
  16. Marked by a teacher

    Explain the arguments for and against introducing a codified constitution

    3 star(s)

    A constitution which is codified provides a counter-balance to the power of the executive, as currently the Prime Minister holds powers through the royal prerogative including the power to declare war without Parliament's consent. As Cabinet has been suggested as being 'left in the dark' due to these powers, a codified constitution ensures greater checks and balances would prevent this. Fearful of the flexibility of the current constitution, some would also argue that there is not enough special procedures to amend it consequently making it too easy to change.

    • Word count: 1166
  17. Marked by a teacher

    How healthy is the UK democracy

    3 star(s)

    However this started to change with the 2001 election attracting barely 59% of the public, the lowest since 1918. The same is also true of membership of political parties. Now only 1% of the populations is a member of a political party compared to 7% 50 years before. Labour party membership has fallen from 800,000 to 200,000 and conservative membership from 2.5million to 250,000! A representative democracy works on the notion of the public electing representatives to represent them. If this is not happening that the current political system is not representative of the public and so its democratic legitimacy is questionable.

    • Word count: 715
  18. Marked by a teacher

    Health Inequalities in UK

    3 star(s)

    One of the main areas in which its clear the Government has began to tackle Health Inequalities influenced by people's lifestyle would be the Smoking ban. The ban was first introduced to Scotland on 26th March 2006. Also referred to as "Clearing the Air Scotland" - its aim was to ban people from smoking in enclosed public areas e.g. Public Houses, Restaurants and Hotels. A year on, evidence had shown that the ban was seen to be a success. From a study of nine Scottish hospitals there was a reported 17% fall in heart attacks, 39% reduction of exposure to second hand smoke in adult non-smokers and Cigarette sales had fallen by a whopping 13%.

    • Word count: 862
  19. Marked by a teacher

    How effective is the British Constitution in protecting the rights of its citizens?

    3 star(s)

    Any amendment made to the British constitution is made in the same way; a new law must pass with a majority of supporters in both Houses followed by a Royal Assent. The constitution comes from a number of different sources which include; statutes such as the Magna Carta, law and customs of parliament, constitutional matters decided in a court of law and constitutional experts who have written on the subject such as Walter Bagehot. Parliament has a close hold over the British Constitution.

    • Word count: 2307
  20. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent can Ramsay MacDonald be considered a Traitor to the Labour Party?

    3 star(s)

    This debate is about whether MacDonald should have put party over the needs of the nation. To resolve the argument it is necessary to consider the economic climate and that there was no Socialist president on how to deal with an economic disaster on this scale, therefore there was nothing that was a definite solution. The issue that government was in the minority also dominates, with no possibility of putting through radical socialist policy meaning that a compromise had to be reached that satisfied all sides, thus a moderate policy.

    • Word count: 1874
  21. Marked by a teacher

    Why did Lloyd George fall from power in 1922?

    3 star(s)

    However, instead of accepting this, Chamberlain the Leader of the Conservative party adopted a tough line, as a result forcing most to vote against Lloyd George. After the Carlton Club vote Chamberlain went straight to Number 10 Downing Street. "We must resign Lloyd George', he said". But Lloyd George already knew and lost no time in resigning his office. He acted as Prime Minister for four more days because Bonar Law refused to take office until he had been elected leader by the Conservatives. The Conservatives had taken advantage on Lloyd George's prestige after the war had ended in 1918.

    • Word count: 775
  22. Marked by a teacher

    Do We Have a Cabinet Government or Prime Ministerial Government?

    3 star(s)

    The traditional view is that the Cabinet is the seat of power in terms of policy initiation and decision-making. Cabinet doesn't just decide all-important issues; it also controls government policy as a whole. Walter Bagehot regarded the Cabinet "as the crucial institution of government" describing it as the "efficient secret". The assumption behind the traditional view is that Cabinet ministers meet together to thrash out all major issues of policy before coming to a collective decision, which then binds all members of government.

    • Word count: 1068
  23. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the view that the cabinet is no longer an important part of the executive.

    Over recent years it is definitely becoming apparent that Prime Ministers are gaining more leadership skills which allow them to operate more similarly to the style of The American Presidents. This type of leadership relies more on those higher up in the government and less of the general cabinet. Firstly Blair is an example of how the Prime Minister began to rely on a smaller amount of people, his so called ?sofa government?.

    • Word count: 505
  24. Marked by a teacher

    Why is it sometimes difficult to distinguish between pressure groups and political parties (15 marks)

    But pressure groups are able to put up candidates for election, although this is generally done to gain media attention it contradicts the idea that pressure groups are not interested in gaining political power as if their candidate wins they will have political power. Some pressure groups are also seen to be converting themselves into political parties.

    • Word count: 472
  25. Marked by a teacher

    The introduction of some form of proportional representation would give voters more choice and better representation than first past the post does, discuss.

    And now the remaining 59.3% of Britain were not represented. In cases such as these there is indeed need of some kind of new system that would represent more of the county, the majority of the country. However, for some FPTP is in fact a fair system because it means that the winning candidate did get more votes than any of the others and therefore a fair result. Some say that it is easier to understand as it only entails ticking or crossing the box beside the name of your choice and some might not know the four names that you would need to remember under the STV system or the two you would need under the Additional Member System (AMS).

    • Word count: 712

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Extent to which leadership effected the 2001 federal election outcome.

    "In conclusion, leadership was a very important factor in determining the outcome of the election. However, the two events outside the control of either of the candidates, those of the Tampa crisis and September 11, were used as a vehicle by the Liberal party to show John Howard's capabilities as a leader. These events allowed Mr. Howard to shine; in times of crisis the party with the advantage of incumbency become very popular, and a change of Government is undesirable. Beazley was on a sure path to success, but Tampa and September 11 rendered a Labor victory all but impossible. It was clear from pre-election polls that after these events Labor's substantial popularity was completely reversed in favour of the coalition. Each party's campaigns also showed the value placed on leadership, this being the most substantial issue dealt with in television advertising."

  • To what extent has the Prime Minister become Presidential?

    "In conclusion, the Prime Minister may sometimes appear to be distancing himself from Parliament but unlike the President he is constantly answerable and remains accountable to Cabinet. On the other hand, many powers of our Prime Minister are less restrained than those of a President such as patronage, the support of a strong party system and the ability to exercise a large number of prerogative powers. These powers are largely flexible due to the lack of a legal framework defining the office (influenced by the fact Britain has no codified constitution). The Prime Minister has certainly appeared to become increasingly presidential and we are moving away from Cabinet government and toward Prime Ministerial government; however I disagree that it is conforming to the American model. Blair is continuing a recent trend of particularly dominant Prime Ministers, for example Wilson and Thatcher. By taking full advantage of Labour's huge parliamentary majority and continued popularity, he appears to be pushing the Office to its limits, further enhancing the control of the Prime Minister over policy making."

  • Discuss the view that today Parliamentary Sovereignty exists more in theory than in practice.

    "It is therefore my conclusion that I am in agreement with the statement that "Parliamentary sovereignty exists more today in theory than in practice". There are too many limiting factors against the view which is supporting that Parliament is wholly autonomous and sovereign of any higher authority; the EU being a glaringly obvious example of a supranational state which has become deeply federalised and, in more cases than not, ruled against the UK's own decisions in individual circumstances. Another instance which has highlighted the flaws of the conventionalisation of the legislature is the Human Rights Act (1998). Sadly, it binds the future actions of any successor government to itself. It should be held that any future parliament can be permitted (and hold the supreme right) to debate and execute the re-introduction of corporal punishment, for instance, but the HRA effectively prohibits that, as the EU's implementation of the HRA also will supersede any vacancy left by the repealing of the Act; a damning indictment against the position upon which the UK has suddenly found itself."

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