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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.

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  1. Peer reviewed

    Outline the problems of the First Past the Post system and consider whether the Alternative Vote would provide a fairer system.

    3 star(s)

    In addition, it usually provides stable and strong one-party government. Also, elected party usually governs effectively and carries on the manifesto promises. Another advantage is a good-organized constituency link between MPs and their constituents. They can easily contact their MP to get support (Coxall et al. 2003, Jones and Norton 2010). Finally, FPTP tent to limit extremist parties like fascist, racist and other "hate" parties, for example British National Party. However, there are several disadvantages that should be considered. The most important weakness and the major criticism of FPTP system is 'wasted votes' issue (Lowe et al.

    • Word count: 1381
  2. The fact that the UK does not have a written constitution is no practical significance to the individual. Discuss.

    It was said by Professor Barber that "Britain's constitution has by and large been a success. " Which supports the questions as to whether a written constitution is actually necessary, when the u's constitutional rules have worked and served us well for hundreds of years. Written constitutions do not happen by accident; a country usually acquires one by way of a certain political event E.g. revolution in us 1787 or acquiring independence from colonial rule like Canada 1867. There are many advantages of adopting a written constitution in the UK and there are many pressure groups, political figures and ordinary people who believe we should have one.

    • Word count: 1349
  3. Is the Parliament still sovereign in the UK?

    Is parliament sovereign? Parliament remains completely sovereign. The devolved assemblies exist at the behest of Parliament; the Human Rights Act only works so far as Parliament chooses to enforce it; and it has complete freedom to withdraw from the EU, plus every EU law must be enforced through Parliament before it has effect. However beyond the legal sense Parliament's powers are limited, though this isn't new. The existence of the devolved assemblies and the Human Rights Act can indeed be undone, but to do so would be deeply unpopular moves which Parliament would be insane to attempt, unless public opinion were behind them.

    • Word count: 1098
  4. Has the PM got too much power?

    This power certainly erodes the idea of 'first among equals'. However, it must be noted that cabinet could have taken this decision as a whole, though it is unlikely. Further the Prime Minister decides the policy of the cabinet and thus the government, the party and the country. Such power, is argues, is too much for one person to comprehend and bear. The Prime Minister as the leader of his political party is subject to the parties support and his ability to whip his majority in the House of Commons to pass his policies and legislation into law.

    • Word count: 954
  5. Analyse the main ways in which the government have sought to raise educational standards in Britain since 1979? (45)

    It also stated the amount of time spent on each subject. The main emphasis was on traditional subjects such as maths, English, history and geography. The aim was to develop meaningful standards for comparison and to ensure that all pupils across the country received appropriate knowledge and skills. It was believed that those subjects would achieve these aims and would therefore improve standards. However it took away the freedom previously enjoyed by schools, this was because schools were required to follow the instruction of the government. It could therefore be argued that the Act handed more power to the government.

    • Word count: 1192
  6. Is the coalition government the greenest party ever?

    Currently Heathrow generates 50% of UK aviation emissions which make 6% of total emissions. If a third runway were to be build Heathrow's contribution to overall UK emissions would rise to 50% of by 2050. This would have had a negative impact on environment overall because it increases the chance of a global warming. This would mean that UK would have fallen behind it emission target set by the carbon trading scheme. Some argue that the conservative party have shown real dedication because they have chosen environment over economy which has been traditionally an area which the conservative have been in favour of.

    • Word count: 1054
  7. The Increased Power of the Prime Minister

    The factors here all involve some sort of extra power that the PM has, that the Cabinet do not. Traditionally, the Cabinet was for support to the PM, and has usually had quite a large say, however it can be argued that over the years the influence of the Cabinet itself has decreased whilst the role of the Prime Minister has been strengthened. The growth of the Prime Minister's role has not been a straight line, and over the years his power has subtly grown. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Prime Minister was thought to be "Primus inter pares" which means "First among equals".

    • Word count: 893
  8. William Hague's Reforms of the Conservative Party

    What the system essentially does is entitle every member of the party to a vote in making important decisions. The aim of the system is to make the system a lot fairer and the internal workings of a party more democratic. Whilst in some senses it does this, the strength of a vote varies based on situation in the party, for example an MPs vote is essentially worth more than a member of one of the parties supporting trade unions. Changes in election of the Conservative Leader In 2001, it became apparent to the Conservative Party that leadership under William Hague was not working and a new more suitable leader should be decided upon.

    • Word count: 944
  9. Constitutional Reform. As of 1997 the Government have introduced many new changes in relevance to our constitution and introducing new policies which have both strengths and weaknesses.

    It is flexible and adaptable which clearly shows thorugh after the 2010 general elections. However, the lack of restraints on the powers of Government and Parliament may be dangerous especially to minority and invidual rights. There have also been many doubts about this traditional constitution and many questions have been raised to do with the Monarchy and outdated institutions such as the FPTP system. The lack of separation of powers between Government and Parliament means that Government tends to dominate which in many eyes is seen as undemocratic. The first constitutional reform was to do with devolution; Scotland Act of 1998, Wales Act of 199 and the Belfast Agreement of 1998.

    • Word count: 628
  10. Should the UK adopt Proportional Representation?

    Recently, First Past the Post has been severely criticised due to its unfairness. It has been suggested that proportional representation offers a wide range of fairly aspects allowing equally smaller and new-established parties as well as those well-developed and popular. For example the final results of Single Transferable Vote retain a fair degree of proportionality, and the fact that in most actual examples of STV the multi-member districts are relatively small means that a geographical link between voter and representative is retained. Another example might be List system where parties are able to use the lists to promote the advancement of women politicians and allow voters the space to elect women candidates.

    • Word count: 611
  11. How representative is Parliament?

    the London riots were seen to have been due to a rise of unemployment amongst the working class in Haringey and a perceived rise in political tension, this crisis could only fairly be dealt with somebody who understands the mind-set and background of the individuals who took party whether that be youths, people from the same sort of background or someone who specialises in such areas. There also seems to be somewhat a class divide in parliament with 'working class' people being underrepresented in parliament, for example 8% of children in the UK attend fee paying schools compared with an

    • Word count: 1405
  12. Political participation cannot simply be measured in terms of electoral turnout. Discuss

    However, there are many different forms of non-electoral participation. It appears that non-electoral participation is particularly prevalent with young people as only 44% of eligible voters in the 18-24 age category voting at the 2010 general election. The more traditional forms of political participation are party membership and doorstep canvassing. However, participation in these more orthodox forms has declined in recent years. Figures for electoral turnout, party membership and doorstop canvassing for a party are all down. These are signs of public disengagement from the traditional democratic process.

    • Word count: 481
  13. To what extent has the Conservative party retained traditional conservative principles?

    more central position on taxation proposing a new tax scheme where people earning under ten thousand pounds a year pay no tax and there would be bigger and more severe crack downs on top earners in offshore bank accounts. This signifies a deviation from traditional conservative principles, perhaps due to the modernisation of the party since Cameron became leader. One way the party has retained conservative principles is through continued eurosceptism. Traditionally the party has been very euro-sceptic initially not wanting to join the EU and later having a party split on the idea of a EU currency, this trend

    • Word count: 667
  14. Does the UK have a Prime Ministerial government?

    One way in which in recent years, the UK has moved towards PM government is through the control and bypassing of the cabinet by various Prime Ministers. In recent years, there has been a bypassing of cabinet government and an increase in the use of bilateral meetings (which is essentially a gathering of the PMs most trusted ministers from the cabinet and deciding what to do on certain policies before the cabinet meeting) which allows the pm to have more power over policy and also takes power usually reserved for the cabinet.

    • Word count: 1835
  15. Discuss the view that the Civil Service has too much influence over policy

    Servants are not elected and because of this they should not have the power to make decisions. Decision making is the responsibility of the politicians and it is they who should take responsibility for the success or failures of departmental policy and they should not be held accountable for their advice or for departmental policy. In the case of policy errors or mistakes in implementation it is the minister who has to resign, not the Civil Servant - the Civil Servant should not be held responsible because they have no role in decision making. This can be seen through the resignation In April 2004 of Beverly Hughes.

    • Word count: 1087
  16. To what extent does the Prime Minister dominate the political system in the UK?

    This gives the Prime Minister an advantage as he can call the election when he is more likely to win. Another power which the royal prerogative grants the Prime Minister is the decision to declare War, however it is more than likely to be discussed in the House of Commons before such a drastic action is undertaken such as the Iraq war 2003. The prime minister gets total control over who he appoints as his cabinet and non cabinet ministers.

    • Word count: 850
  17. Free essay

    Ministers; their backgrounds and roles.

    In fact 65% of their work is not based around departmental work. * Rely too much on what others tell them. They talk about information fed to them rather than their own research. Leaks could happen to embarrass for the minister. * People have been on the job for a long time may have 'loopholes' too delay certain laws. So it's harder to implement law. The relationship of ministers and civil servants, who dominates? Explain Theakston's four models of the relations between civil servants and ministers. The Formal Constitutional Model - That the civil servants should provide information that the Ministers need and remain non-political.

    • Word count: 955
  18. Ministers decide, civil servants advice. To what extent is this still true of the modern civil service?

    Bureaucratic expansionism model . Civil servants get what they want by creating bureaucratic empires that are not well funded and financially inefficient they obstruct government by getting in the way of clear and efficient government. Ministers and civil servants have different resources to support them. Ministers have political support, which will allow them some lenience. Authority, they have the overall say. Knowledge, in some cases they know how to tackle a situation without civil service. Policy networks, they have links on how to make a clear and efficient government.

    • Word count: 841
  19. Ministers & Departments - Revision

    Each department has two heads One is a minister, the other is a civil servant 2. The minister is called the Secretary of State and the civil servant is Permanent Secretary 3. Departments have a political structure standing alongside an administrative structure It is worth remembering that departments may form task forces or policy units from outside the structure of civil service and staffed largely by outside experts to assist in policymaking The Difference Between Ministers & Civil Servants - The key distinctions between ministers and civil servants are the following Ministers * Ministers are appointed for political reasons as they are leading members of the ruling party * Ministers are essentially temporary as they hold

    • Word count: 983
  20. Free essay

    The prospect of voting reform in British politics.

    Under the present system, the party with a majority takes an outright victory. For example, provided a single party in parliament has an overall majority of at least one seat, it has the right to form a government and the other parties will be in opposition. The potential unfairness of this situation is best demonstrated at the constituency level: if a Conservative MP is elected with 51% of the vote to 49% for a Labour candidate, the Conservatives will win that constituency and the 49% who voted Labour will effectively be denied representation based on their choice.

    • Word count: 871
  21. Law and order in civil society. The laws that govern us in the UK are often used to describe the freedoms that we enjoy. There are no political prisoners

    There are many different variations of law's. International law will affect how nations interact with each other. National law is the law of the land, and can vary widely between states. In the United Kingdom corporal and capital punishment has been removed, but corporal punishment can still be found in some states such as Iran and capital punishment can be found in more developed nations such as the USA and India. In the UK THE National legal system is broken into three; that of England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. National laws will fall into one of two categories again; public & private.

    • Word count: 2006
  22. Explain why the Environment is such a discursive subject. There are many examples of environmental campaigns that have already been and gone and the results of which can still be seen today.

    But it was not just pressure groups bringing environmentalism to the political landscape, but also a whole new political party. The Green party was started in 1985 with the aim of moving politics away from what it felt was the continued pursuit of economic growth and focusing more on clean sustainable living (Moran, 2005, p338). The Green party has continued to rise since it's inception. The party currently has 109 elected local councillors, 2 European MP's and in the May 2010 election gained their first seat in the Westminster when party leader Caroline Lucas won Brighton and Hove (Green Party Website - accessed 20/04/2011).

    • Word count: 1513
  23. During this project, I hope to test out my hypothesis that the BBC War reporting undermined the security of the British troops during the Falklands of 1982, potentially breaking the Treason Act, 1940.

    Secondly, I aim to study the increase of war broadcasting in the UK with an apparent correlation to the development of technology. Thirdly, I will assess the argument that this rise in technology has diminished security of British troops, breaking the Treason Act 1940 and lastly, I will present and assess empirical evidence for this argument in relation to the Battle of Goose Green of the Falklands War, 1982 using this case study as an example to relate to and avoid, in present day conflicts.

    • Word count: 2423
  24. How can The UK improve voting turnout in elections?

    (I don't know how to express that right I want to say that they go to the vote at any case.) For the European vote the German Minister of finance had an interesting idea, after the bad turnout in Germany (also that it wasn't as bad as in the United Kingdom). His idea was to change the vote system of the UK Parliament. It should change in the way, which people vote the EU president directly. That should make the candidates to do a bigger and harder election campaign which actually gets through to the people.

    • Word count: 1154
  25. How can Coalition government affect the traditions of the Cabinet system?

    et al., 2010). In order to do this it is useful to define what a Coalition government is. Coalition government or in other words "hung parliament" is known as a balanced parliament formed due to a minority government after general elections. It is unusual and unstable outcome of general election where no party have an overall majority of votes (326 votes). General election of 2010 is an example of it. The Conservatives dominated election with 306 votes, while Labour had 258 votes and Liberal Democrats had 57 votes. (Lowe, C., Owen, V. et al., 2010). The result was a "hung parliament" meaning that the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown remained on his position.

    • Word count: 1852

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