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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

    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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Discuss the view that the cabinet is of little importance in the British system of government.

    Disputes between senior members can also be aired in Cabinet meetings and planning policy for the future. To this end, the role of the cabinet can still be seen to be important, as it is a place for the top ranking members of the government to come together and plan the future for the country on an open scale. The planning for the iraq war took place at a cabinet level However, many people see it more as a place for agreement of policy that is decided elsewhere rather than a place for actual debate to take place.

    • Word count: 1104
  11. To what extent has the coalition strengthened the House of Commons?

    The presence of a coalition in the House of Commons represents both a strength and a weakness. One advantageous side is the rejuvenation of the institution. It also means that there are going take place more debates, investigations of the future possible laws. Therefore, there will not be more situations such as in 1983 when the Conservatives under Thatcher had a majority of 144 seats, meaning that some laws, maybe not the best ones or maybe needing the ones that would need rectifications could be passed without being questioned, and even if the opposition would have said anything, the Tories may not have paid attentions due to their strong mandate.

    • Word count: 1039
  12. How successful was the Labour Government in implanting devolution in the UK after 1997?

    own election and Scottish prime minister, this can also be argued this is the case in Northern Ireland with has less powers but still has helped deal with the deficit. However it can now also be argued that devolution has created a democratic deficit post 1997 in England itself with an average Scottish MP being more powerful than an English as he/she can vote on National and country matters which is the right an English MP does not have. This problem has been famous under the West Lothian question 'If power over Scottish affairs is devolved to a Scottish Parliament,

    • Word count: 1189
  13. To what extent are the biggest pressure groups the most successful ones?

    They therefore try and support popular pressure groups. For example if the TUC who have about 7 million members publically support a political party at election time that political party would see a increase in number of people potentially voting for them. Equally if the TUC publically removed their support from a political party, that political party's popularity would decrease. There have been numerous examples of when the government has changed its mind because of the large amount of public support behind a campaign. The Gurkha campaign in 2008 was backed by a huge section of society, the government were at first very reluctant to allow Gurkha's to settle in the UK.

    • Word count: 1060
  14. To what extent is Parliament representative?

    However, this system doesn't necessarily mean that representation of the public is achieved. Within the House of Commons, there is a distinct majority of white middle-class, middle aged men who have had public school and Oxbridge education. If representation means that Parliament has to represent the people within a smaller scope, this shows that the reality of Parliament and the reality of the British public are extremely disparate, since only 7% of the British public have actually attended public school. Furthermore, the reality of the House of Lords is even further from the reality of the public, since these peers are appointed, and not elected, so they do not even represent a cross-section

    • Word count: 1584
  15. To what extent does parliament control the executive power?

    Moreover, the government ministers also have civil servants and advisers to brief them and to research recent issues. MPs are simply trying to protect the government and citizens from undesirable policy outcomes, (for example, Parliament tried to agree upon a EU Council meeting, efficient industrial action, better school transport and armed forces pay, 7th December 2011.), but their "scrutiny" just appears ineffective when it is almost always the executive that sets the motion/topic for debates. Moral may often be low, as well, within the opposition party (since effectively they were the ones defeated after the election), in essence opposition members may see little point in turning up just to be defeated again by a majority parliament.

    • Word count: 1477
  16. Free essay

    Compare and Contrast the different styles of recent British Prime Ministers.

    Thatcher used called as innovator and mobiliser and many of changing the agenda associated with her personally. In addition, she has been called as "Weather Maker" who transformed British politics. One of those changed policies including that she did much to reduce the power of trade unions, lower taxes, inflation and privatisation in the United Kingdom. All of these policies achieved by under her strong standards and her leadership style. In 1979 before Falklands War, she has no confidence of cabinet.

    • Word count: 1071
  17. What are the main features of representative democracy? In what ways has political participation declined in the UK in recent years?

    The 650 constituencies at present represent the popularity of the three main parties, Labour, Lib dems and the conservatives. In what ways has political participation declined in the UK in recent years? (10) One way in which political participation in the UK has declined in recent years is Public turnout in participation at a local and European level, such as in the local by-elections,elections for MEPS and referendum votes . These elections are not as well publicized to the public as not as much money is spent on the campaign as it is in the General Election, which is to

    • Word count: 1381
  18. Discuss the case for and against a Written Constitution for the UK.

    This has been due to the gradual development of the UK constitution and the absence of an event requiring an abrupt change in the constitution, such as a revolution, a defeat in war, or a major change in political ideology. To date an uncodified constitution has been effective in the UK, thus showing that the country can stand without it. The origins of written constitutions stem from American War of independence and the French Revolution. The written constitution is said to be drawn up and adopted because people wished to make a fresh start, so far as the statement of their system of government is concerned.

    • Word count: 1316
  19. The UK constitution is no longer fit for purpose. Discuss.

    For example, the British government are able to use extraordinary rendition on suspected terrorists for torture by extraditing them to countries such as Afghanistan and Libya, thereby violating their human rights. They can get away with this however because there is no actual rule against it that is clearly defined in the constitution, torture is illegal in the UK under the Human Rights Act but is not in other countries. This means that the government can interpret the constitution how they like because it is not written down and some parts of it, such as the rule on torture are vaguer than necessary.

    • Word count: 1281
  20. The reform of the British Constitution remains an unfinished business. Explain & Discuss

    They have the power to execute primary legislation concerning domestic issues such as education, health and social services. For example, Scottish citizens are exempt from prescription charges and tuition fees because Scottish Parliament has granted them the privilege to do so. However, devolution in Wales and Northern Ireland has not been as successful or fully reformed. The Welsh assembly only have the power to execute secondary legislation, and much of its power is limited to the Welsh Office in London which holds its funds. The power the welsh assembly has is relatively small compared to Scottish Parliament, but David Cameron has promised the Welsh a referendum to be held in 2011 on whether more powers should be granted to the Welsh Assembly similar to the powers of the Scottish Parliament, which would further the constitutional reforms in Wales.

    • Word count: 1274
  21. To what extent does democracy in the UK need reform?

    Also, the rigid nature of the UK's voting system is often cited as a reason for the decline in democracy and reforms are key to enhancing it. The failure to adapt to the modern world is likely to have contributed to the current democratic deficit. An solution to this would be the implementation of digital democracy. This would enable the UK voters to cast their votes via text or internet. Nevertheless, postal voting was introduced in 2002 by Tony Blair's Labour government but the impact has been minimal.

    • Word count: 1498
  22. Electoral Systems Assignment

    If the population believes that a particular government has not acted very well on behalf of its people, it is likely that they will either vote against the current government or decide to not vote at all. This was the situation in 1997 when the Conservative Party lost an election after the Labour Government won a landslide victory. The country was able to express their dissatisfaction with the government and in doing so, granted a mandate to the successive government.

    • Word count: 1562
  23. Taoiseach VS Primer Minister

    ? It has been argued that the Prime Minister and Taoiseach surround themselves with 'yes men and women' (those who simply accept the wishes of the Prime Minister/Taoiseach and rarely get involved in robust discussions at cabinet meetings i.e. Blairs Babes and Cowens Cronies) and this yet again gives them more control ? ? However, unlike the British Prime Minister who appoints 20-23 cabinet members, it is stated in the Irish Constitution that the Taoiseach can only appoint 7-15 cabinet ministers, that the Tanaiste(Deputy Prime Minister)

    • Word count: 1404
  24. To what extent is Labour still a Socialist Party?

    deprived through no fault of their own and that some have inherited their wealth, rather than worked for it: in such cases, they believe that wealth should be redistributed, but those who achieve wealth through their own hard work, deserve to keep their fortune. It also believes that those who make o effort to improve their situation, should receive minimum state benefit to encourage them to work - state intervention should be available to remove 'artificial' privileges and to create greater opportunities).

    • Word count: 1937
  25. Free essay

    Voting Behaviour

    Parties will try to make their leader as appealing to the public as possible by making sure they are likely to charm voters. The leader must be personable, relaxed and genial when making public appearances so these are qualities that parties look for in their leaders. If your leader doesn't possess these qualities they must possess other admirable qualities. For instance many people do not like Margaret Thatcher as a person, but even so they see her natural leadership qualities, toughness and resilience which appeal to them.

    • Word count: 1510

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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