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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

    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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Referendums present a more democratic form of participation than the opportunity to vote in elections - discuss

    Referendums are true democracy, and as a device of direct democracy, they give the general public direct and unmediated control over the government's decisions. Those who argue in favour of the use of referendums claim that they strengthen democracy, and opinions are expressed directly rather than via polticians interpretation of their views, giving the government an up to date knowledge of what citizens want between elections. The most noticable disadvantage to this argument is that it weakens parliament, as it is substituting parliamentary democracy.

    • Word count: 748
  17. How might the House of Lords be reformed to make it more effective?

    Firstly, the lords lack democratic legitimacy and their powers are limited by law. They have no power over financial matters, cannot veto legislation and their proposed amendments can be overturned by the House of Commons. A reform would effectively make the House of Lords become more legitimate via the removal of certain peers. The House of Lords should have a complete overhaul and like the House of Commons, should be elected. This would make the peers in the House of Lords more powerful which would mean that they would be more effective within their role, particularly when it comes to scrutinising government policy.

    • Word count: 705
  18. How democratic is the Labour party's organisation? & Does it matter?

    This is known as an elitist system. This can be seen with the example of the conference. In times past a conference was were the policies could be debated, discussed and fought over, however the story couldn't be more different today. The conference is little more now than a media focused event in which everyone agrees because they have already had their say.

    • Word count: 505
  19. Is the Labour party still socialist?

    New Labour seemed to accept the Thatcherite economic policies of free deregulated markets and privatisation of industries. When they were recently in power, the party even welcomed private funds into national institutions such as hospitals and schools. This shows that labour no longer follows the former left wing ideologies on the economy but instead they are taking a more central position of state controlled capitalism.

    • Word count: 485
  20. Should the UK have a codified constitution?

    This brings in to question how relevant and up to date the UK's political system is. Currently, the constitution has evolved through conventions and changes to the law by parliament. Supporters of an un-codified constitution argue that the system works well using the current system which has been used for centuries, causing no problems. Another argument is the difficulties of codifying the British constitution, some of the problems that may incur may involve who, how and what should be in the constitution. The benefits of codification are just not worth the time and cost. However an important benefit of codifying the constitution is the existence of entrenchment, which would protect it from any changes unless it has support and in the long-term interest of the country.

    • Word count: 910
  21. Distinguish between the effects of FPTP and other electoral systems in the UK

    Proportional representation in the UK, namely AMS and STV tend to produce the opposite effect, because votes are allocated in relation to the votes, usually there is no clear winner who has gained more than 50% of the vote, this leads to either a minority or coalition government forming. This is the case Scottish Parliament, where Labour formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but the partnership soon dissolved with the Scottish National Party ruling as a minority government. This produces a weak government with many conflicts in Parliament as the ruling party must gain support from other parties to pass laws.

    • Word count: 983
  22. Free essay

    Assess the strengths and weaknesses of proportional representation compared to First Past the Post.

    Before the coalition agreement (and arguably after), their preferred voting system they wanted to see implemented in the UK was Proportional Representation (PR). This is an umbrella term, but we are generally talking about a party getting a number of seats in the House of Commons based on the proportion of votes they received. The 'Additional Member System' and the 'Single Transferable Vote' are both examples of a PR electoral system. Supporters of the system claim that that it more clearly represents the wishes of the voters' as expressed in the ballot box.

    • Word count: 802
  23. What Criticisms have been made of the Judiciary?

    The roles of the judiciary can be, in short, threefold, and can be summed up as; 1) The interpretation of the law 2) The enforcement of the law 3) Arbitration between citizens and the state Crucial to the fulfilling of these roles is the maintenance of Judicial Independence and the Judicial Neutrality. The lack of independence is the first main criticism of the judiciary. The judiciary is supposed to be independent from other branches of the government and judges are meant to be selected in a non-partisan manner. Appointments are based on secret soundings or consultations among existing judges and senior lawyers.

    • Word count: 713
  24. Compare and contrast the effectiveness of parliamentary and Dail committees

    256 committee places, 175 TD's and 81 Senators (although this did improve the accountability of the Irish Committee System). However modifications to the Irish committee system in 1997 and 2002 meant that like Britain, Irish committees would now mirror government departments, although there would now only be 13 committees (15 including public accounts) the Irish committee system was now much more effective. A common factor in both the Irish and British committee system is perhaps due to the fact the government will always have the majority.

    • Word count: 784
  25. Role of a team leader

    A CO has a range of significant responsibilities with regard to the allocation of service personnel, finances and equipment. They are accountable to the higher ranks and have a legal duty of care to the team. COs are highly valued and progression within the service is awarded to the best officers who have worked their way up the ranks. Position and responsibilities There are many functions of a team leader. These range from helping the team to decide how roles and responsibilities will be divided amongst its members to helping to coordinate the task and resolving interpersonal conflicts. The team leader is the contact point for communication between the team members.

    • Word count: 985

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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