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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. To what extent have Government been concerned with reducing the dependency culture since 1997?

    Gordon Brown in March 2008 said 'Child poverty is the scar that demeans Britain.' The government has aimed to reduce child poverty and the dependency culture for this by introducing a scheme called 'work for your benefits'. The aim of this scheme is that lone parents are required to undergo unpaid work to ensure their financial support is maintained. This has been seen as reducing the dependency culture in which parents and families are not spoon fed money from the state.

    • Word count: 2032
  2. To what extent have governments and political parties agreed on how best to raise educational standards in Britain since 1997?

    A further 3000 senior staffs from heads, deputies and bureaucrats could be cut as schools become federations. This method is believed to save �250 million by reducing senior posts. The federation model too can save another �500 million. A further 10% could be cut on schools spending budget on equipments and facilities. However pressure group National Head Teachers Union (NHTU) opposes the federation proposals. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are in consensus to the belief that no cuts should be made. The Conservatives want more private involvement and more business involved whereas The Lib Dems intend to scrap measures such as the Child Trust Fund which pays out �500 million a year to place more money into maintaining standards.

    • Word count: 2382
  3. How, and with what success, have governments attempted to improve the provision of health care in the UK since 1992?

    There were also allegations of unfairness and talk of a health service rationing was in existence. This overall led to the crucial weakness that the patient's quality care lost priority to balancing books by managers whom ran the NHS. Hence overall, this was not a successful attempt to progress the health provision. It was the failure of the Internal Health Market which led to Tony Blair famously telling voters they '24 hours to save the NHS' on the eve of the 1997 election. During the first 2 years of government, New Labour continued Conservative spending and no attempt was placed to reverse policies such as charges for both dental and optician services and prescription charges rising with inflation.

    • Word count: 3701
  4. Analyse the main factors that limit the effectiveness of parliament

    These figures undermine the legitimacy of parliament, and thus the laws they pass. Another significant problem with parliament is rise of "careerist" politicians, more worried about their power and stature than the morality of what they may be doing. "Ministerial responsibility" states that a minister should resign if necessary to protect the party name, however this is rarely seen now days as evident with both the expenses scandal and that of the possibly illegitimate wars in Iraq. However, perhaps one of the biggest limitations placed of parliament, is that of the EU.

    • Word count: 534
  5. Is Anarchism merely liberal individualism taken to its logical extreme?

    This leads to a belief in the central importance of individual freedom, most definitely a central theme of individualist anarchism. William Godwin's anarchism amounts to a form of extreme classical liberalism and he developed a form of liberal rationalism that amounted to an argument for human perfectibility based on education and social conditioning, reflecting closely the arguments which are linked strongly to liberal ideas. The anarchist belief that the state is unnecessary is a core idea which could be said to be drawn from Classical liberalism, which holds a belief in negative freedom; this is the concept of absence of external constraints on the individual.

    • Word count: 739
  6. To what extent is there a consensus in the British party system?

    The Labour Party then was dominated by trade unions and therefore it was declared as a socialist, leftist political party. On the other hand, the Conservatives were very pro-free trade, supported and treasured the idea of individualism and were extremely tough on Trade Unions. In terms of economy, the Labour Party has traditionally supported the idea of taxation being based on the ability to pay whilst the Conservatives favours lower taxes. However, there is a significant shift in both party's ideological principles. Under Blair and Brown the Labour party has both shifted away from the left into the centre ground.

    • Word count: 1830
  7. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Rational Choice model of voting behaviour.

    choice by voting for the Conservatives who promise to deal with economic problems effectively, lower unemployment and reduce the powers of union groups. In 1997, the Conservative after having been in government for 18 years finally got voted out by Labour. At the time, events such as Black Wednesday and European Issues lead to a very serious fall in popularity for the Tories as the public genuinely doubt John Major's government's ability to manage the economy. At the same time, they were attracted to New Labour's renewed image as well as Tony Blair.

    • Word count: 1385
  8. Asses the arguments in favour of and against codification of the British Constitution

    This leads on to the belief that the constitution should not be changed because it has gradually become perfected over the centuries in which it has been used so that the current government has every advantage. It has been modified and changed over hundreds of years to fit in with social and political changes and so it must be the best it can for it to have worked for so long. The reason for the government and Parliament to eventually have the definitive power over the country is because the constitution has slowly moved away from the Crown and royalty's powers and towards government and Parliament.

    • Word count: 894
  9. The argument that the media have an effect on political attitudes and opinions is certainly a contentious one. Although it would be virtually impossible to support a hypothesis that the media has no effect on British politics, it is also very hard to quan

    can occur. Obviously the Capitalist nature of the owners means that most of them vote Conservative anyway and therefore most of the newspapers have a highly partisan bias towards the Conservatives. The 'newspaper barons' experience with the printing unions in the 1980's is also an explanation of this. The 1980 and 1982 Employment Acts restricted closed shops and picketing highly benefiting owners such as Murdoch and Shah in gaining control of the printing unions, as well as the advent of electronic publishing.

    • Word count: 1859
  10. Government & Politics Revision Notes

    Representative's maybe local councilors in the town halls or MP's in the House of Commons. Advantages of Direct Democracy * Generates Interest and Knowledge- Direct Democracy creates better informed and more knowledgeable citizens, this would have educational benefits. Direct and regular popular participation in government encourages people to take more interest in politics and better understand their own society, both how it works and how it should work. * Legitimate and Stable Government- Direct Democracy ensures that rule is legitimate, in this sense people are more likely to accept decisions they have made themselves. When Citizens make political decisions directly they have to take responsibility for them, there is no else to blame.

    • Word count: 7364
  11. The Prime Ministers Powers Of Patronage

    Prime ministerial government is a government where the prime minister is dominant in terms of the executive. As the prime minister is, by definition, a member of a cabinet - this form of government is often a development from cabinet government. In true cabinet government the prime minister is primus inter pares, where prime ministerial government necessitates the crossing of this boundary. An often cited example of prime ministerial government is recent leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, have exercised leadership which circumvents cabinet. Thatcher began using bilateral meetings with individual ministers to determine policy areas using cabinet to simply announce these decisions.

    • Word count: 1106
  12. The importance of democracy

    Two and a half thousand years later, democracy has established itself as the political system preferred by all economically advanced nations. In the meantime, most people had been governed by hereditary monarchs, autocratic rulers or had effectively not been properly governed at all. So what is it about modern society that seems to make democracy so important? We can identify a number of theories to try to answer this question. Democracy establishes and protects freedom Towards the end of the eighteenth century a number of new philosophical and political movements developed.

    • Word count: 605
  13. Function of MP

    For example, John Mayor returned to Huntingdon constituency several times. The factors that influence a strong representative role are the increase in size and scope of government activities, growth of welfare state, greater sophistications of the electorate and its increasing volatility. It is seen as a method to gain approval from his party and people. Another extremely important part of the representative role of an MP is to redress grievances of the MP's constituency. They are expected to meet with local pressure groups and businesses, visit local schools and hospitals.

    • Word count: 876
  14. Prime Ministerial Power. Conventionally, the British government is referred to as a Cabinet Government, but many feel that the system is changing. Cabinet has become suspended and centralisation of power is occurring.

    Major did formalize practices that depict characteristics of a Cabinet Government. For example, according to Burch in 1994, Major introduced a "political" session after most Cabinet meetings. They have become a regular event. In addition, the Chief Whip, Leaders of both Houses and the Party Chairman met Major at the beginning of each week to review political and parliamentary developments expected in the week ahead. This brings the management more closely into the formal structure of the Cabinet system. During Callaghan's first year in office, he started what has since become known as "The Great Debate" about the 'legitimate concerns' of a public about education as it took place in the nation's maintained schools.

    • Word count: 1028
  15. The Cabinets role in decision making has been marginalised in recent governments

    Consider how significant the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility is in modern British politics. (10 marks) Collective Cabinet Responsibility (CCR) is a constitutional convention in place in the Core Executive of the UK Government which aims to ensure that ministers are, as the name suggests, collectively responsible to the House of Commons for governmental policy, which - through the Cabinet - they helped to create. Generally-speaking, the doctrine entails the assurance that: all ministers carry the same views and opinions on Governmental policy so as to keep policy clear and simple for the general public and to ensure that there is a united front within the governing party as to guarantee that confidence can be placed within it and to portray the image that the Government is fully in control of itself.

    • Word count: 1994
  16. Sovereignty, Power or Authority?

    In the late 1550s, a time where civil war desperately cries out for a stronger central authority, Sovereignty reemerged. This occurred as Monarchs had begun to gain power into their own hands at the expense of nobility and nation states were rising. The two main theories behind Sovereignty are the Concept of De Facto and De Jure. De Facto or actual sovereignty is one where control in facts exists while, De Jure is the theoretical right to exercise exclusive control over one's subjects. Some notable true de facto leaders have been Deng Xiaoping of the People's Republic of China and General Manuel Noriega of Panama.

    • Word count: 1113
  17. Discuss the view that today Parliamentary Sovereignty exists more in theory than in practice.

    Parliament) and those who must apply them (i.e. courts), who oversee individual proceedings. Theoretically, parliamentary sovereignty wholly exists in the United Kingdom as there is a lack of a codified constitution by which its legislature could be bound. However, progressively, there has been erosion and, indeed, a questioning of the true extent to which P.S. exists in the UK. Several legislative factors such as the Human Rights Act (1998) have limited the way in which legislation can be applied after being enacted through Parliament (and after being given Royal Assent). Furthermore, there are also numerous political aspects which restrict the method in which Parliament can legitimately pass laws (the domination by the Executive, for instance).

    • Word count: 980
  18. Britain Now Has a Multi-Party System

    A two-party system has two parties competing for power on an equal or near equal basis, with the parties normally alternating in government. Finally, the multi-party system has more than two parties competing for power on an equal or near equal basis. Robert McKenzie described the two-party system as having two main parties competing in elections for an absolute majority of seats. One party would form the government, and the other, the Opposition.

    • Word count: 451
  19. Voting behaviour is influenced more by political issues than by social factors

    As there are probably fewer differences in the expectations of men and women today, gender has become a decreasing influence. Religion has historically had links to politics. The Church of England used to be closely identified with the Conservative Party, and non-conformists, such as Methodists, were associated with the Liberal or Labour parties. However, it is generally agreed that in Britain religious significance has practically disappeared, and it is rarely seen as a key determinant of voting behaviour. It has been shown that ethnicity does play a part in voting behaviour.

    • Word count: 1329
  20. In light of some judicial decisions since 1960 should the power of judges in relation to the Irish Constitution of 1937 be re-assessed

    Such approval marks them down as being the law above all else, that by which all other legal norms and rules are to be judged (Doolan, 1988). In 1937, after a civil war in Ireland, Eamon de Valera drafted a constitution to reflect his experience of how to conduct government, and to realize his vision of an ideal Irish society (Chubb, 1991). In this respect it differed from the constitution it replaced, for the Irish Free State Constitution was the product of a negotiated treaty and reflected compromises of republican demands and the constitutional principles of the British Commonwealth (Chubb, 1991).

    • Word count: 1455
  21. Consverative and Labour Differences

    Indeed, it is the party leader who has sole responsibility for writing the manifesto. A manifesto can define a whole party and set the direction that it should go in. This can allow the leader to dominate his party. However, the Party leader is not free to do as he or she pleases. Indeed, if there were major changes to the party, the leader faces both disunited party (which would severely damage prospects of a future win in an election) and the initiation of a party contest. Also, the leader of the Conservative party does not have to attend the meetings of the 1922 Committee.

    • Word count: 1115
  22. Judicial Independence and Models of Government

    A typical judge is also upper class middle-old aged man that is usually slightly conservative which again means that the senior judiciary could be considered non neutral. They do however have job security and are therefore there for more than one government and have no need to be bias. There are 774 judges with an average age of 60+, only 8% are women and 60% are Oxbridge graduates. 92% of law lords have graduated from Oxbridge and the figure is 100% since 1997 In my opinion the most effective safeguard of a UK citizens rights are the European court of

    • Word count: 861
  23. Free essay

    Left and Right

    This saw the left-wing sector of the UK become largely more centrist. However some would argue that although the Labour party has become more left economically, that doesn't mean they entirely in the centre. For instance, Tony Blair has put more money into the NHS than any leader since Atlee's government; his government also saw a surge in spending on education. Blair also minimised the gap between the poor and the rich in the UK (substantially lowering the amount of children in poverty from 1.8million to 600,000).

    • Word count: 1045
  24. Media or Manifesto?

    In 1992, Neil Kinnock led a radical campaign, and as opposition to an increasingly unpopular Conservative party, Labour were favourates to win the general election3. However, the Conservatives still came through as the winners. One theory behind this is that though people had lost faith in the Conservatives, they still did not want to shift their vote so far to the left as to vote labour, and gave indifferent votes in the polls. While a number of people may have said they would not vote Conservative, they just could not bring themselves to vote Labour.

    • Word count: 2316

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