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School of Social Sciences

Politics for Year 13

This course is designed for students in Year 13 to gain an understanding of some of the key questions about the world around them.

Course aims

Questions include how we find out what’s going on ‘out there’, what we think of it and why some people think they know what’s good for others. These are political questions – questions about our place in the world, who ‘we’ are and the difficulties of making the world a ‘better place’.

The course at a glance

  • Course lead: Dr Véronique Pin-Fat
  • Six x 2 hour weekly sessions
  • Each class lasts for 2 hours and is a dynamic and active workshop environment - students will discuss and explore political questions with the lecturer and with each other.
  • Each session includes some problem-solving exercises using political texts and sources.
  • All the study will be carried out in class but students will have the option of writing and getting feedback on an essay at the end of the course.

What this course gives you

This course will develop a number of skills that can be applied to the A-level study that Y13 students are already engaged in. We teach students through the development of their curiosity. Benefits can include enhanced critical thinking skills, complex information processing, essay writing skills and communication skills. As well as the exciting content of the course, it can enrich UCAS applications whilst promoting independence and responsibility for learning.

Course content

Week 1: Welcome and introduction

The workshop will include student-led group tasks on initial ideas of what politics includes and excludes. There will also be an interactive Q & A session led by Dr Thomas McCunnie, SoSS Widening Participation Manager, on UCAS applications: How to complete personal statements, how to choose degree programmes etc.

Week 2: How do we find out what’s going on in the world?

In this workshop we explore how the media presents the world. It includes looking at how wars are reported (Vietnam 1960-75, The Gulf War 1990-91 and The Iraq War 2003) and how to read the media critically. Students will be presented with material from the media and will begin to analyse different media approaches to information through a categorisation task.

Week 3: How do we begin to think about the world?

In this workshop we investigate how what we think of the world affects what happens in it. In particular, we focus on how different modes of thinking impacts on people’s lives (ethics). We discuss torture as an example of politics. In this session students (a) debate critiques of the ticking time bomb scenario and (b) develop their own arguments in support or against the use of torture in global politics.

Week 4: Why do some people think they know what is good for others?

Some people think they know what is good for others because they have something important that others don’t. Indeed, they can believe that a good is so important that they may want to spread its benefits to others in the world. This workshop explores some of the difficulties that can arise from believing that people can know what is good for others including imperialism and colonialism. In this session students are given a case study, Malala Yousafzai and human rights, to analyse and discuss in class.

Week 5: Who do we think we are?

Often the answer to who 'we' are appeals to an identity: national, gender, religious, ethnic or sexual. In this workshop we explore the implications of identity for global politics, especially gendered identities. This workshop will look at visual representations of gender and enable students to develop their skills as critical spectators.

Week 6: Review and preparing for academic writing at university

In this workshop we review the content of the course and discuss how and why students’ views may have changed or remained the same. An interactive session on academic writing skills follows, focusing particularly on essay writing and marking criteria. Students will be expected to produce an essay plan relating to one of the essay questions on the course.