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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. Outline the main beliefs of the modern Conservative party

    and the highly contested ?centre ground.? Cameron?s flagship policy was that of ?The Big Society?, which aims to empower local people and communities and remove some power from the government, as the party believes that Britain has become ?over-governed?. This would strengthen Parliament, give local communities a greater say on housing and schools, and abolish regional quangos and identity cards.

    • Word count: 445
  2. The strengths of the UK constitution outweigh the weaknesses. Do you agree?

    The UK constitution is changed through the normal law-making process of a parliamentary vote; all that is necessary for the practises to be changed is for Parliament is to agree that is change is necessary. In the USA, the constitution is so entrenched that the provision of amendments is extremely difficult, this has only occurred 27 times to date. The UK?s long period of unbroken democratic rule is often seen as strength of the British constitutional system. In the UK?s uncodified constitution, supreme constitutional authority is vested in the elected House of Commons.

    • Word count: 1105
  3. To what extent does Parliament control executive power?

    Mp?s are likely to be loyal to their party and vote in favour of the legislation that they want to pass as they will most likely want to be seen as loyal to the prime minister. This is because the prime minister has the power to promote mp?s to higher positions. However, even when the government has an overall majority parliament still has the power to veto any legislation they don?t agree with. Although this rarely happens there are occasions when this has taken place.

    • Word count: 852
  4. Human Rights Legislation and Citizens of the UK

    For example; when someone is abused, because of the UN Declaration of Human Rights they ensure that action will be taken to prevent it from happening again. When Society didn?t have this act people where able to get away with many different things because they were from a high class, had money or simply because nobody cared, now action can be taken and will be taken regardless to their diversity. Other examples of the treatment of prisoners and the commutation of the death sentence.

    • Word count: 2262
  5. Constitutional reform since 1997 has not gone far enough Discuss 40 marks

    It also gave more powers to the courts to enforce people rights. The main impact of the HRA has therefore been that it has made the European Convention substantially more accessible to UK citizens. Therefore, constitutionals reform since 1997 have gone far enough because the Human rights act allowed people freedom of speech. However, there have been criticisms about the Human right act in that it has not gone far enough. This is because it was not binding in Parliament rules so they do not have to follow it and can abuse their rights.

    • Word count: 1050
  6. How has the behavior of voters changed over recent decades?

    These factors have an effect on the government, and who runs it. In 1971, Punett said ?for most people, voting behaviour is habitual and ingrained.? There are four main competing theories which outline the reason for various voting behaviour over the decades. The rational choice is a theory which clarifies the reason for people?s choice in parties. During the 1980s, people were shrewd in their voting. They began to choose parties according to what they felt they could acquire from them. People wanted their own goals and aspirations met by the party, and if they felt they could achieve this they voted for the party.

    • Word count: 857
  7. The ways in which Britain has become more democratic -elections, reforms and devolution

    The next step would be to introduce some variation of an electoral system. Scottish devolution referendum of 1997 - Patrick Tucker The UK? incorporation of referendums in its political system is testimony to its edge toward a more democratic society. The Scottish devolution referendum of 1997 is an example of a major referendum in UK history; in this act it was proposed that Scotland be given an assembly with limited legislative powers. The referendum was, however, seen as undemocratic because the ?40% rule? came into effect; this rule meant that even though an overall majority voted in favour of the

    • Word count: 1084
  8. Make out a case against the adoption of a codified constitution for the UK

    For example in 1997 the labour party devolved power to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a London assembly. This was done because the power was too concentrated in parliament. In order to this a referendum was held to make sure that it had popular support. This is evident that amendments to the constitution can be quickly and efficiently done as the other countries wanted individual power rather than just England. The fact the codified constitution is more rigid than an uncodified constitution would mean that the constitution could easily become outdated as overtime society changes, therefore some laws may need to be changed to adapt to the current changes in society, like it was easy to enforce anti-terrorist laws whereas that would have been difficult if is was an entrenched constitution.

    • Word count: 794
  9. Is Britain a real democracy? How does the British system compare to the US?

    There is no equivalent of your Primaries, I think that is a unique USA phenomenon. As we don't have a president there is no point of contact between your system and ours in that respect. Other countries which have presidents (eg France & Germany) do not hold Primaries either. The parties choose their ordinary candidates for parliament themselves. This is the same as your House of Representatives system, I think. We have a "first-past-the-post" electoral system; which means that the leader of the political party which has gained the most seats in the Commons is invited by the Queen to form the next government.

    • Word count: 648
  10. Is the UK democratic?

    These MP?s meet in the House of Commons to discuss matters and pass acts which then become British law. Within the House of Commons, each elected MP represents an area called a constituency. The voters in this constituency passed on the responsibility of participating in law making to this MP who, if successful within the Commons, could be re-elected by that constituency at the next general election. However, in comparison to direct democracy, the people hand over the responsibility of decision making to someone else who wishes to be in that position.

    • Word count: 587
  11. Outline the case for Votes at 16.

    It makes sense for young people to develop a political opinion whilst they are young and it would ensure that the vote represents a wider society therefore making the political system fairer. At the age of 16 many young people have completed their education and therefore it would make sense for them to be allowed to vote. By the age of 16 they would have been able to form options and does Article 21 of the UN Human Rights list state that every citizen (regardless of age)

    • Word count: 701
  12. How effective is Parliament in controlling the Executive?

    MPs take up issues raised by their constituents, such as immigration rules. In this way MPs try to protect them from undesirable policy outcomes, Commons Select committees have the key role of strengthening the scrutiny role of parliament, though they have no input whatever into legislation.; there are 16 in all in the Commons. Most shadow government departments, though a small number are concerned with broader government issues. Their main work involves undertaking inquiries on specific issues and publishing reports for the House to consider, to which the government normally issues a reply, though the committees have no power to insist that their reports are debated or acted upon.

    • Word count: 840
  13. What is a Referendum and what are the arguments against them?

    The reason for this was Labor government attempted to introduce regional assemblies, to be directly elected. 5th May 2011, the ?Alternative Vote? referendum was drawn up as part of the Conservative- Liberal Democrat coalition, to be asked across the whole U.K. The Referendum concerned whether to replace the present voting system with an alternative one. This was because the Labor government, who were previously in power in 2010, used their majority to pass an amendment to their Constitutional Reform Bill to include a referendum on the introduction of AV to be held in the next Parliament, naming a desire to restore trust in Parliament in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal.

    • Word count: 1269
  14. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Devolution in Scotland and Wales?

    74.3% of the 60% Scottish turnout voted in favour of Scottish devolution for example. Likewise, more recently, the fact that the SNP with the primary aim of Scottish independence is the leading party in Scottish Parliament promotes the extent of the devolutionary support base. However, despite this, Guardian polls suggest that although the concept of greater devolved powers is appealing to the Scottish and Welsh public, it is not true that they are mainly after complete independence. In Scotland, it is feared that taxes would rise as it is less prosperous than England. Therefore, this would lead to tough decisions, i.e.

    • Word count: 643
  15. Discuss the powers and constraints on the power of the Prime Minister

    The PM owes his or her position to the party and must not forget such a connection. He or she will use the powers of leadership to keep the party united, working out compromise solutions as necessary. As leader of the majority party the PM retains support of the parliament. As long as the majority is a workable one, the PM and his or her cabinet colleagues are in a position to persuade the House to adopt party policies. In this sense a good relationship between the Pm and his or her party is crucial in allowing the freedom of choice for the PM.

    • Word count: 1465
  16. Many people argue that recent changes in constitutions have increased the participation of judges in politics.

    Politicians argue that the judiciary use this to their advantage and gives them more power in government. This change has led to more authority for judges and an increasing political role. Also, some may argue that judges are exceeding their power and involving themselves in politics. The executive are in dispute with the judiciary for over stepping their roles. There have been many situations when the government and parliament have come to a conclusion in a debate and the judiciary have overturned it.

    • Word count: 504
  17. The functions of Parliament

    Votes are often taken to see whether a majority of Members either support or reject any discussed proposals. In the Lords, one day a week is set aside for general debates and short debates take place on most days (lasting one and a half hours). There are no votes on such debates. Committees of smaller groups of MPs and/or Lords look at specific policy issues or legislation in detail. Different committees have different roles ranging from offering advice, to producing reports or altering legislation. Both Houses have permanent and temporary committees. MPs and Lords also work together in Joint Select Committees.

    • Word count: 886
  18. Should the UKs constitution remain uncodified?

    It is also seen as ?entrenched?, making it very hard to amend and modify as it is protected. Uncodified constitutions are ?a constitution that is made up of rules that are found from a variety of sources, in the absence of a single legal document.? (Heywood) Unlike codified constitutions, an uncodified constitution is neither an authoritative source and also it is not entrenched. They are also not judiciable, meaning a judge cannot make a decision whether there has been an action that is considered constitutional or unconstitutional. There are many arguments in favour of the U.K adopting a codified constitution.

    • Word count: 1251
  19. Federal and State Governments of the USA

    The federal government has the power to print bills and coins. They have the power to decide if we are at war or not, for example Afghanistan is not a war it is a campaign, congress did not declare war on Afghanistan. It has the ability to establish an army and a navy to protect the united states and its? allies. The fedral government has the sole power to enter into a treaty such as the one with the other nations that are in the UN.

    • Word count: 746
  20. How representative is the UK political system?

    This is down to the fact that they look at all the different aspects of a particular topic and try and mediate between the differentiating needs of people in society. Government can claim legitimacy due to the fact that elections take place frequently. General elections occur every 4 years and they are free and fair. Any citizen can stand for office, meaning that it isn?t just restricted to privileged people. Because the government is legitimate and has gained the right to rule by the people, for the people, they can be viewed as representative.

    • Word count: 967
  21. Discuss the view that the power of the Prime Minister is in decline

    There is copious evidence of the Prime Minister's dominance over the political system. For example, there has most certainly been a decline in 'Collective Ministerial Responsibility' in recent years. The premiership of Tony Blair was marked by criticism over decision-making without adequate debate. This lack of debate gives the Prime Minister greater power of the government, as it is easier for them to get their own ideas across at the expensive of others. The Blairite style government saw the length of cabinet meetings, which had been over an hour and a half under Thatcher, fall to 40 minutes, or in many cases, less.

    • Word count: 1258

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