Year 12 — Politics

Term 1: Democracy and Participation

In term 1 students will begin by examining the different forms of democracy that operate in UK politics: direct democracy and representative democracy. Students will assess the merits of each and look at the health of UK democracy with regard to turnout rates, political party membership and other forms of participation. Students will also examine the role of pressure groups, think tanks, corporations and lobbyists and whether these groups are healthy for UK democracy. There will be an examination of the franchise in the UK and what can be done to increase the franchise, looking at the possibility of extending the vote to prisoners and to those under the age of sixteen. Students will then look at the role of the major political parties, namely the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. There will also be an examination of minor and emerging UK political parties and the factors affecting the success or otherwise of political parties in the UK in a contemporary context.

Students will complete two essays, one on democracy and participation and one on political parties. this will be a 1 hour 30 minute exam.


The rightful use of power in accordance with pre-set criteria or widely-held agreements, such as a government’s right to rule following an election or a monarch’s succession based on the agreed rules.

Direct democracy

All individuals express their opinions themselves and not through representatives acting on their behalf. This type of democracy emerged in Athens in classical times and direct democracy can be seen today in referendums.

Representative democracy

A more modern form of democracy through which an individual selects a person (and/or political party) to act on their behalf to exercise political choice.


Franchise and suffrage both refer to the ability/right to vote in public elections. Suffragettes were women campaigning for the right to vote on the same terms as men.


A lobbyist is paid by clients to try to influence the government and/or MPs and members of the House of Lords to act in their clients’ interests, particularly when legislation is under consideration.

Old Labour (social democracy)

Key Labour principles embodying nationalisation, redistribution of wealth from rich to poor and the provision of continually improving welfare and state services, which largely rejected Thatcherite/ free-market reforms or a Blairite approach.

New Labour (Third Way)

A revision of the traditional Labour values and ideals represented by Old Labour.

New Right

There are two elements – (i) the neo (or new) Conservatives who want the state to take a more authoritarian approach to morality and law and order and (ii) the neo-liberals who endorsed the freemarket approach and the rolling back of the state

Party systems

The way or manner in which the political parties in a political system are grouped and structured. There are several variants that could apply to the UK, these include one-party dominant, two-party, two-and-a-half party and multi-party systems.

Right wing

This term reflects support for the status quo, little or no change, stressing the need for order, stability and hierarchy – generally relates to Conservative parties.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:

Students will develop and understanding of the democratic system and the rule of law. Will also be able to discuss different political views within this unit

Create a supportive community:

Through group and individual work, students will be able to challenge the idea of democracy and the reasons for participation in the democratic process

Term 2: Electoral System and Voters

Term 2 will see students examining the various electoral systems used for general elections, local elections, elections for devolved assemblies and parliaments and for mayoral elections. Students will compare the merits and demerits of FPTP with STV, AV and AMS electoral systems. There will also be an in-depth look at the role of referendums in UK politics and the case for further use of referendums in the UK. Students will also look at the social factors that impact voter behaviour in the UK through quantitative analysis. Students will also look at the role played by the manifestos of the political parties in determining voter behaviour and the techniques used in election campaigns. The above factors will be examined through case studies of three UK general elections: 1979, 1997 and 2017. Students will finish the term by examining the role of the media in UK politics and whether it is a determining factor in influencing voter behaviour.

Students will complete two source based questions, one on electoral systems and one on voter behaviour and the media in UK politics. This will be a 1 hour and 30 minute exam.

First-past-the-post (FPTP)

An electoral system where the person with the most number of votes is elected. Victory is achieved by having one more vote than other contenders – it is also called a plurality system.

Additional Member System (AMS)

A hybrid electoral system that has two components or elements. The voter makes two choices.

Safe seat

A seat in which the incumbent has a considerable majority over the closest rival and which is largely immune from swings in voting choice. The same political party retains the seat from election to election.

Minority government

A government that enters office but which does not have a majority of seats in the legislature (Parliament). This makes passing legislation very difficult.

Class dealignment

The process where individuals no longer identify themselves as belonging to a certain class and for political purposes fail to make a class connection with their voting pattern.

Partisan dealignment

The process where individuals no longer identify themselves on a long-term basis by being associated with a certain political party.


In its manifesto, a political party will spell out in detail what actions and programmes it would like to put in place if it is successful in the next election – a set of promises for future action.


The successful party following an election claims it has the authority (mandate) to implement its manifesto promises and also a general permission to govern as new issues arise.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:

Students will be able to discuss the different electoral systems in the UK and develop analytical skills

Create a supportive community:

Through group and individual work, students will be able to debate the best systems depending on the circumstances helping them develop evaluative skills

Term 3: Core Political Ideologies

Students will examine the three main ideologies that have influenced political thought in the UK: socialism, liberalism and conservatism. There will be an in-depth examination of the origins of each of these ideologies and how each ideology developed and evolved through the prism of key thinkers associated with each ideology. Students will assess the various strands within each ideology, such as revolutionary Marxism and social democracy within socialism, one-nation conservatism and the New Right within conservatism and classical liberalism and modern liberalism within the liberal tradition. There will be an examination of the effect these ideologies have on modern UK political parties and tensions within each ideology.

Students will answer two essay questions on ideologies from a choice of three. This will be a 1 hour and 10 minute examination.

Test yourself Hierarchy

The Conservative belief that society is naturally organised in fixed tiers, where one’s position is not based on individual ability.


For Conservatives, this is the idea that people in higher positions in society are best able to make decisions in the interests of the whole society; authority thus comes from above.


That society is made up of self-interested and self-sufficient individuals (also known as egoistical individualism).


Belief whose ideas favour drastic political, economic and social change.


The idea that knowledge comes from real experience and not from abstract theories.


A society organised on the basis that success is based on ability and hard work.


A willingness to respect values, customs and beliefs with which one disagrees.


An economic system that requires government involvement to stimulate the economy to achieve full employment and price stability.


The bonds of comradeship between human beings.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:

Students will be able to develop analytical and evaluative skills through the discussion of conservatism, socialism and liberalism

Create a supportive community:

Through group work students will have the opportunity to challenge the different factions of each ideology reaching conclusions about their own beliefs

Term 5: Prime Minister/Executive

Students should gain knowledge and understanding of the structure, role, and powers of the Executive, the concept of individual and collective ministerial responsibility and the role of the PM and cabinet. Students will study the influence of two prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May and their influence on both their inner cabinet and wider government.

here will be one source-based question on UK government, one essay based question on UK government and one essay question on core ideologies. This will be a 2-hour examination.


Branch of the government involving the prime minister, cabinet and committees. They are seen as the decision-making brunch of government


A collective group who is seen as the decision-making part of the government. It is made up of senior ministers and the PM


A member of serves the government and belongs to either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Each member would be responsible for a specific department of government

Royal prerogative

The monarch has a set of powers/privileges that she gives to the PM to do on her behalf. e.g. granting pardons

Individual responsibility

The idea that each minister is responsible for their own behaviour and conduct and that of their own departments

Collective responsibility

The idea that government ministers must always support Cabinet/PM decisions or resign

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:

Individuals will be able to develop their understanding on the powers of the prime minister and its limitations reaching conclusions regarding how well accountability is established

Create a supportive community:

Through group discussion individuals will be able to discuss decisions made by the prime minister both in the past and present and how their powers allowed them to make such decisions

Term 6: Relations between institutions

Students will look at how the various institutions in the UK interact with one another. There is an emphasis on the judiciary and how the 2005 Constitutional Reform Act separated the executive and judiciary in the UK. Students will examine how the judiciary interacts with the executive and with Parliament and how Parliament interacts with the executive. There will be an in-depth look at the role of the EU and the impacts membership has made on the UK and the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.

Students will sit a complete paper 1 and questions 1 and 2 on paper 2.

Judicial neutrality

The idea that judges should be neutral. They should not be influenced by their personal political opinions and should therefore not belong to a party

Judicial independence

Judges should not be influenced by any other branches of the government

Judicial review

This is a power given to the judiciary to look at actions of the branches of government that breach the law and review them and take action

Civil servant

Employed by a government department to assist politicians; must be politically neutral

Habeas corpus

A Latin term meaning you have the body. States that no person may be detained without being charged and brought to trial quickly.

Royal prerogative

The arbitrary powers formerly enjoyed by the monarch

Common law

Laws which have not been passed by parliament but which are declared by judges

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:

Students will be able to discuss the relationship between the government, parliament and other institutions to allow them to analyse and evaluate decisions

Create a supportive community:

Through group work and independent study, students will be able to debate the relationship between different departments and reach their own conclusions regarding how accountable they are

UK Constitution and Parliament: Term 4

Term 4 will begin with an outline of the UK constitution, its historic development and the nature and sources of the constitution. Students will look at the changes made to the UK constitution after the election of Labour under Tony Blair in 1997. There will be an in-depth assessment on the various reform, with a particular emphasis on the Constitutional Reform Act, devolution and reform of the House of Lords. Students will also question whether reform has went far enough and what can be done to modernise the UK constitution, such as proposals for codified constitution. There will be a thorough examination of Parliament, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and the legislative process. Students will also look at the interaction between Parliament and the executive.

There will be one source-based essay question and one essay question. This will be in the form of a 1 hour and 30 minute exam.


Set of laws and guidelines setting out how a political system works


A constitution where its practices are set out in a single document


When a higher court protects the constitution and special arrangements are needed to amend it

Parliamentary sovereignty

Parliament can make, unmake or amend laws

Rule of law

The principle that everyone must follow the law and will be hold accountable if they break it


agreements with other countries that often has to ratified by parliament

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:

By examining the benefits of a democratically elected parliament for individual rights

Create a supportive community:

Students will work undertake a trip to the houses of parliament to access the impact of such an institution in everyday life