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From ballots to big ideas

Embark on a journey through the corridors of power with A level Politics at RIC, where we unpack the mysteries of governance in the UK and the US. Our course is your backstage pass to understanding if we're pulling the political puppet strings or merely dancing to their tune.

But it's not just theory – it's hands-on exploration of political machinery. From dissecting the mechanisms of governance to navigating the murky waters of party politics, you'll emerge with a toolbox of critical thinking skills and a knack for decoding the political matrix. 

And don't worry, we won't leave you adrift in the sea of political parties – you'll come out knowing your Tories from your Democrats.

Then there's the ideological battlegrounds, where liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and feminism clash in epic debates over the fabric of society.  Prepare to delve deep into the philosophical trenches and emerge with your own compass for navigating the moral maze of modern politics.

And if you think politics is all dry theory, think again. We're plugged into the pulse of current affairs, dissecting the drama of Brexit and the Scottish independence saga. Across the pond, we'll unravel the enigma of Trump's presidency, tackle the thorny issues of race relations, and dive into the heated debates over gun control.


Exam Specification


100% exam based assessment

Length of exams: Three 2 hour exams

Component One- Government and Politics of the UK

This unit introduces students to the key channels of communication between government and the people and to the major governmental processes within the UK. It encourages them to evaluate the adequacy of existing arrangements for ensuring representative democracy and participation. It also promotes the development of a critical understanding of the role and effectiveness of key institutions, and of the relationship amongst them. The unit is broken in two and in UK Politics the students will cover: democracy and participation; voting behaviour, elections and referendums; pressure groups; political parties; and the EU. In the Government of the UK the topics are: the constitution; Parliament; the Prime Minister and cabinet; the judiciary; and devolution.

Component Two – Government and Politics of the USA and Comparative Politics

It examines the constitution of the US and its operation in practice. Students consider the institutional framework of US government and the interrelationships between its legislative, executive and judicial processes. Alongside this, students also assess the electoral process, the roles of political parties and pressure groups and examine the role and significance of direct democracy. This unit also focuses on comparing two distinct systems; US and UK government. The topics covered are: the constitution and federalism; Congress; the presidency; the Supreme Court; the electoral process and direct democracy; political parties; pressure groups; and civil rights.

Component Three – Political Ideas 

This component introduces core political ideologies and the philosophical bases for the political parties and policies of contemporary politics. Through their studies of liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and either feminism or anarchism, the students will look at the differing understandings of human nature, the state, society and the economy to understanding the nature of modern politics in both the UK and the USA.

In their studies, they will consider key political thinkers such as John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Betty Friedan, Thomas Hobbes, Ayn Rand, Karl Marx, Simone de Beauvoir and Peter Kropotkin and understand their differing understanding of the nature and institutions of politics.

Curious about Politics?


There are also many programmes and podcasts that politics students might find interesting. These include:

The Rest Is Politics- Two men who’ve been at the heart of the political world - former Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy Alastair Campbell and cabinet minister Rory Stewart - join forces from across the political divide. The Rest Is Politics lifts the lid on the secrets of Westminster, offering an insider’s view on politics at home and abroad, while bringing back the lost art of disagreeing agreeably.‘

For The Many- LBC presenter Iain Dale and former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith untangle the world of politics and media. Expect plenty of jokey banter and informed speculation.

Political Currency- Ed Balls and George Osborne take us behind closed doors into the rooms where decisions are made. Having battled it out across the despatch box, the former Chancellor and shadow chancellor now meet in the studio to discuss the decisions that affect the nation’s pockets. Our frenemies have the knowledge and experience to explain how good politics follows the economics - and expose how the powerful become powerless when faced with market forces and political currents they can’t control -  independent and academic research on constitutional change and its impact from the Constitutional Unit at UCL. It is particularly useful for keeping up to date with debates on constitutional aspects of the UK. - a range of blog entries from diverse academics and commentators on a wide range of issues related to UK politics. - an American nonpartisan fact tank that informs about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It has a particularly useful section on US politics. - The Political Studies Association has some useful resources on topics studied at A level that are worth reading. The short files on different ideologies are particularly useful for an A level politics student


British Politics: a very short introduction by Tony Wright - a short basic introduction to UK politics. 

American Political History: a very short introduction by D Critchlow published by OUP. There are also short introduction books on Congress and the US Supreme Court that provide broad and accessible overviews. 

Some ‘must reads’ on political ideas:

  • Machiavelli ‘The Prince’ 
  • Ayn Rand ‘The fountainhead’ 
  • Karl Marx ‘The Communist Manifesto’
  • Betty Friedan ‘The feminine mystique’ 

Andrew Marr ‘A history of Modern Britain’ - a bbc documentary that is useful in providing a broad overview of Modern Britain including reference to post war Prime Ministers.

Inside the Commons - BBC documentary about the House of Commons

Meet the Lords - BBC documentary about the House of Lords

Crash course US government and politics, available on youtube, a series of short videos on different aspects of US governmen

Meet the Press - NBC weekly programme on US current affairs that provides students with updates on US politics. 

Question Time - a weekly politics programme on the BBC with a range of panelists that discuss current affairs