Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
Loreto Crest

Government & Politics

Academic Year 2017/2018

Head of Department:
Mr E Harkin

General Statement
Government and Politics is a much misunderstood subject which often carries with it some of the negativity and cynicism of politics in the wider world. This rather jaundiced view of the academic study of Government and Politics does the subject few favours and seriously underestimates the true meaning of the study of Politics.

Far from being the pragmatic, exigent and all too often corrupt practice of everyday politics the AS and A2 level subject offers an insight into how the world works at local, regional, national and global levels and more importantly offers the student the opportunity to discover how he or she can access the existent system and from that point make a telling contribution to changing the system.

This is illustrated by government policy in education today with its long overdue introduction of ‘Citizenship’ at KS 3 of the national curriculum. This move shows the recognition of the necessity for all students and future citizens to have an understanding of the working of Politics at some level.

What is the course about?
The CCEA Government and Politics course is offered as a two year AS and A2 level course. There are four modules to be completed from a choice of six. Two of the AS modules are compulsory and include a study of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

At A2 level an element of choice is introduced where the United States or the Republic of Ireland are studied in comparison with the United Kingdom, and finally, there is a choice between studying Political Power and the Contemporary Relevance of Political Ideologies.

At Loreto College Coleraine, the United States and UK comparative module is the option currently studied at A2 1 and at A2 2 Political Power  is studied which includes an investigation of the pluralist, elitist, feminist and Marxist theories of power. In addition students must evaluate the factors which determine the legitimacy and stability of a state and arrive at conclusions as to why some states enjoy stability and legitimacy while others do not.

What can be learned?
The skills learned through the study of Government & Politics are manifold. The subject requires and informs a literary ability yet it is not limited to that. There is also often the opportunity to handle and interpret statistical data and interpret and extrapolate upon numerical data. In this way the breadth of the subject straddles the line between a purely literary discipline and that of a more scientific subject. In doing so the subject attracts a broad range of abilities across the curricular spectrum.

The communicative skills enhanced and learned in the study of Government & Politics are both in the verbal and written form. The ability to analyse information and data from a range of sources and synthesise these ideas, concepts and theses into coherent argument and discussion in a debate scenario or more often in within the parameters of an extended piece of writing. These skills while essential for the successful completion of the course are also valuable tools to be taken into further study or into the workplace.

What is contained in the study of Government and Politics?
Students learn about how government works in general. This encompasses a study and understanding of concepts central to the study of Politics such as representation, democracy and dictatorship. These concepts are applied to a variety of political systems studied directly including Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Republic of Ireland. A wider world view is encouraged and examination of contemporary issues is always undertaken on an ad hoc basis and varies from year to year depending on events as they transpire. This allows students to apply their knowledge and skills base immediately and relevantly.

Elections, voters, voting patterns, the conduct of Pressure Groups and political behaviour are also addressed which broadens the students’ appreciation of Politics beyond the confines of parliamentary politics and allows the subject to become accessible in everyday life.

The theoretical elements of political thought are addressed in A2 2 where the main theories of where political powers resides, and the legitimacy of political power are studied. This completes the picture and as mentioned balances the very scientific approach of political science with the more intangible ideas and concepts of political ideology.

Which Careers?
Government and Politics as an academic discipline at AS and A2 level allows for the development of skills useful to a number of careers.

These include Law whether Solicitor or Barrister. Journalism is also a career option followed by students of Politics. Teaching whether at primary, secondary or tertiary levels has also proven popular. The world of business and commerce are also popular destinations for Politics students where careers as varied as Management Consultancy, Accountancy and Management in general have been undertaken.

Essentially the message is that studying Government and Politics rather than closing or narrowing the students’ options rather opens them up to a range of careers across the modern workplace spectrum.