Curriculum – Government and Politics

Curriculum – Government and Politics

Government and Politics

The Curriculum

Curriculum Intent

The study of Government and Politics at A level is an academically rigorous subject that will develop analytical skills as well as ability to write essays, formulate arguments and engage in debate. Students’ attitudes and opinions of the world around them will be challenged and they will be nurtured into developing their views of the world. Through the study of the British Political system students will gain a deep understanding of the society and structures of power within which they will live as adults. This includes the study of Parliament’s functions as well as law and the judiciary, analysis of pressure groups and the study and evaluation of the British constitution. Students will therefore be personally equipped to thrive in the next stages of life and develop them into active citizens who can inspire change and lead within their communities. Through the study of global politics and power structures students are encouraged to think critically about the most pressing challenges to mankind including climate change, conflict, human rights, poverty and global governance. Students will be forced to re-examine their world views, become independent thinkers and develop their empathy for citizens of the globe. Their study of Global Politics in year 13 will extend to analysing the power of states and the impact of the UN and other world organisations. The programme of study in Government and Politics will challenge and inspire students and ultimately lead them into a lifelong engagement with society and current affairs which is both personally fulfilling and conducive to building a generation capable of coping with the challenges and changes that will inevitably face them. The students of Government and Politics will gain the world view, analytical ability and depth of understanding that will truly set them apart in their future endeavours.

What does it feel like to be a student in the Government and Politics Department?

The study of Politics is a deeply enriching and rewarding experience. In the course of your study you will learn to question the world around you, think more deeply about the world and key global crises such as conflicts, human rights abuses, climate change and the causes of poverty. In the study of these topics you will develop empathy and knowledge of key global crises facing the international community. You will learn about the current political parties as well as studying the philosophical ideologies behind them which will give you a deeper understanding of your own political identity and thus develop your own original and unique beliefs. The complex nature of British Politics will give you an insight into our rich history and unique traditions and political processes.

You will also have the opportunity to take part in extra- curricular learning including visiting Parliament and the Supreme Courts, taking part in Model UN competitions and running mock elections in school. Students of politics also enjoy writing articles on political issues to submit to our termly Social Sciences magazine in school. We have also had the opportunity for students to travel to New York and Washington to take part in the Global Young Leaders competition which is an incredibly inspiring and competitive international event.

The study of Politics demands a commitment to keeping up with current affairs which will help develop your understanding of the world and of accessing news which will set you on a path for life-long learning and reading. The key skills in Politics include the development of your ability to debate and analyse conflicting viewpoints which will force you to engage with others with opposing views and encourage resilience as well as the ability to reflect and adapt. The focus on debate and current affairs means students of Politics will experience lessons that are thought provoking and engaging. The emphasis on reading, debate and analysis of political philosophy are academically rigorous and will prepare you well for undergraduate study. Many students of Politics have gone on to study at Oxbridge, Warwick, York and many more Russell Group establishments, with many opting for pursuing the study or Politics, courses in International Relations or PPE. Overall, you will leave the course with a greater understanding of the world and of your position within it.


Government and Politics Curriculum

At Southend High School for Girls we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the A-Level specification for Government and Politics. The SHSG Government and Politics curriculum is what we believe will expose and challenge students to a cultural capital in Government and Politics that is the best that has been thought and said in this subject.

The Government and Politics curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from Key Stage 4

Students will be building upon essay writing skills and analytical skills developed in their studies at Key Stage 4. No prior political knowledge is required.

Adjustments from the Pandemic for years 12-13 if applicable?

  • Year 13 will be offered additional revision lessons to go back over Year 12 content during lunchtimes in the Summer Term.
  • Focus on providing examination style, timed essay writing opportunities in class.

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the Edexcel specification, and as a Grammar school, also challenge students beyond the specification. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Government and Politics intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 12

Term 1

Introduction to the course and key terms

Topic 1: Democracy and Pressure Groups

  • Democracy
  • Franchise
  • Pressure Groups
  • Rights

Topic 2: Constitution topic introduction continued

  • History/Sources of the constitution
  • Historical documents
  • Twin pillars of the constitution
  • Constitutional reforms
  • Devolution
  • Uncodified vs codified debate
  • End of unit test

Topic 3:  Political Parties

  • Features and functions
  • Ideologies
  • Leadership and funding
  • Party system
  • Adversary vs consensus

Topic 4:  Parliament topic

  • Introduction/mapping of both houses, what do they know?
  • Functions of parliament overview
  • Function 1 – representation
  • Function 2 – scrutiny (S.Committees)
  • Function 3 – accountability
  • Function 4 – legislating

Core political ideologies

Topic 5 – Liberalism

  • Core ideas
  • Key thinkers and beliefs
  • Principles
  • State, society, human nature, economy
  • Differing strands and tensions

Topic 6 – Electoral Systems

  • Elections functions
  • FPTP
  • AMS


  • Practise exam-style questions. 30 mark questions.
  • Source based essay question introduction to skills.
  • Current affairs quiz
  • End of unit assessment.

Term 2

Topic 1: Electoral systems continued

  • STV
  • AV
  • Other electoral systems
  • General Elections results case studies

Topic 2: Parliament topic continued

  • Reform of the House of Lords – possibilities and benefits
  • Powers of HOC v HOL
  • End of unit test

Core political ideologies

Topic 3: Conservatism

  • Core ideas
  • Key thinkers and beliefs
  • Principles
  • State, society, human nature, economy
  • Differing strands and tensions


  • Core ideas
  • Key thinkers and beliefs
  • Principles
  • State, society, human nature, economy
  • Differing strands and tensions

Topic 4: Prime Minister and Executive

  • Introductory lesson
  • Cabinet – role and composition
  • Power of the cabinet vs PM
  • Ministerial and collective responsibility
  • Sources of PM power
  • Limits on PM power
  • Essay planning/ exam focus for PM power
  • Predentialism
  • End of unit test

Topic 5: Voting and the Media

  • Role of Media
  • Demographic factors
  • Case Studies and voting trends
  • Social media impact


  • Practise exam-style questions. 30 mark questions.
  • Source based essay question 30 mark questions.
  • Current Affairs quiz
  • End of unit assessment.

Term 3

Topic 1:  Political ideologies

  • Revision and exam practice
  • Essay practice and planning
  • Start Nationalism non-core political ideology topic.

Non-core Political ideology – Nationalism

  • Key thinkers
  • Types of Nationalism
  • Conservative nationalism

Topic 2 : Relationship between branches

  • Introduction to the Supreme Court
  • Judicial neutrality and independence
  • Powers of judiciary and civil liberty case studies
  • Comparison lessons on Executive vs Legislative vs Judicial powers, constraints and conflicts

Topic 3: Introduction to Global Politics

  • Introduction and reading list
  • Case study 1 – Rwanda plus research (human rights, genocide, humanitarian intervention, Ad hoc courts, ICTR, UNAMIR, and UN role, mandate and peacekeeping)
  • Case study 2 – Sebrenica plus research
  • Case study 3 – Sierra Leone
  • Extension case study only ECCC

Topic 4 : State Sovereignty and Global Politics introduction – 6 set lessons

  • States and statehood
  • Sovereignty
  • Mixed actor model
  • Failed and Rogue states
  • State summary lesson

Exam questions and essay planning

Topic 5: Introduction to Global Politics case studies and Human rights abuses


  • Practise exam-style questions. 30 mark questions.
  • Source based essay questions 30 mark questions.
  • Current Affairs Quiz
  • End of unit assessment.
  • PPE

Year 13

Term 1

Recap of year 12 Global Politics work including human rights and international courts, statehood and sovereignty. Summative end of unit test on content in first week.

Topic 1 : Human Rights

  • Defining human rights
  • Critique of Human Rights
  • Global governance and human rights
  • Regionalism and Human Rights
  • Humanitarian intervention introduction
  • HI arguments for and against

Core Political Ideologies revisited plus end of unit tests

Topic 2 : Non-Core ideology Nationalism

  • Key thinkers
  • Types of Nationalism
  • Conservative nationalism
  • Internationalism
  • Essay writing/ comparing strands

Topic 3 : UN

  • UN aims
  • UN structure
  • UN Peacekeeping
  • UN criticisms
  • Future for UN
  • NATO

Topic 4 : International Courts

  • International courts – Ad hoc courts recap and Rome Statute
  • ICC case studies and analysis
  • ICJ – role and impact on HR
  • End of unit test

Topic 5: Economic global governance

  • Bretton woods
  • WTO
  • IMF/ WB (Note JBN to cover SAPs and theories of accumulation)
  • G8 G20

Topic 6: Globalisation

  • Defining three types
  • Economic Globalisation
  • Political Globalisation including international law
  • Cultural globalisation
  • Perspectives of globalisation
  • Essay practice and overall analysis of impact

Topic 7: Regionalism and the EU

  • EU development
  • EU institutions
  • EU expansion



  • 12 mark essay questions
  • 30 mark essay questions
  • End of unit test
  • Current Affairs quiz
  • EB UCAS examinations

Term 2

Topic 1 : Poverty

  • Poverty introduction
  • Defining poverty
  • IGOs cause poverty – UN SAPs, Debt etc
  • IGOs alleviate poverty – MDGS/SDGs, HIPC, services provided via WB and IMF
  • Regional organisations poverty action
  • Theories of accumulation
  • Globalisation and TNCs

Topic 2: Regionalism and the EU continued

  • How effective is the EU
  • Impact of EU globally (note JBN covers poverty and environment)
  • End of unit test
  • EU Federalism

Topic 3: Environment

  • Shallow/ deep ecology
  • Tragedy of the Commons
  • International environmental law and obstacles

Topic 4: Power

  • Hard power / Soft power
  • Polarity
  • Power classifications
  • China vs USA
  • Emerging powers/ Emerging economies
  • Systems of government

Topic 5: Realism and Liberalism

  • Morgenthau- study key principles of realism
  • Liberalism key beliefs recap and contrasting
  • Anarchy and Chaos
  • Conflict


  • 12 mark essay questions
  • 30 mark essay questions
  • End of unit test
  • Current Affairs Quiz
  • EB UCAS examinations

Term 3

Revision lessons.



  • Final exam style essay questions
  • A level examinations taken

Achieving outstanding outcomes in Government and Politics – knowing and remembering even more than what is expected in a grammar school Key Stage 5 curriculum

Our assessment practice at SHSG reflects on how successful students have been in knowing, remembering and doing more through the above topics.

To go beyond what is expected of a Government and Politics student in Key Stage 5 and achieve outstanding outcomes in Government and Politics, students should read widely, engage with the material listed in the reading list, keep up to date with current affairs and read high level articles and essays, learn key language and subject specific terminology.

Recommended reading in Government and Politics for A Levels (Years 12 – 13)

Government and Politics-specific language to master in Upper School (Years 12-13)

  • All required technical terminology can be found in the glossary of the Edexcel specification online. This also provides definitions for each key term.
  • Definitions and extra use of the key terms is also outlined in the three textbooks students are given for the three key content areas- British Politics, Key Political Ideologies, and Global Politics.
Year 5 Open Evening (September 2024 cohort)Information here