This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
PPE or History & Politics, which A Levels?(68 Posts)
DS1 (Year 11) is obsessed with politics. Also loves history and is strong at maths.
He assumed he woukd study maths, History and Economics A Level, thinking ahead to either PPE or a History and Politics degree.
His school have, however, just started to offer Government and Politics A Level. He read through the sylbus at school a couple of weeks ago and says it is a doddle. He's thinking about taking it as a fourth (his predicted grades are high enough to do this at all of the local schools) but we're reading so much about the crazy work load with the new A Levels.
So, assuming he is aiming high, question is whether Politics is considered a less "strong" choice compared to Economins? Would d it be better to try all four? Or economics and an EPQ in politics?
A student I know just started PPE at Oxford with A levels in history, economics, politics and an AS in maths.
I did A level British Government and Politics as a mature student in evening classes at the local college many years ago, just for something interesting to do on Tuesday nights. For any reasonably bright politics geek, it was an absolute doddle, and I got an A.
The level was study of how the British political and electoral system works, eg ‘what is the House of Lords and how does its role differ from that of the commons’. ‘Comparison of the roles and powers of the devolved assemblies’. That sort of thing. Heavyweight psephological or in-depth critical analysis of Das Kapital, it was not.
That was a long time ago, and the current syllabus may be very different, of course, but my tentative suggestion is that your DS would be well advised to stick to Maths, History & Economics for PPE and only offer G&P as a fourth option.
I think it’s just called Politics now. Dd has just done Edexcel. She thought is would be the ‘easy’ one but there was loads of content. LOADS. Worse than history she said. It was the first year of the new syllabus. Only one person got an A* and the results were very topsy turvy - people predicted As got Ds and vice versa. Teachers were very upset with the marking in lots of schools. My Dd got put up 8 marks by having 1 out of 3 papers marked. We should have got the others done tbh. Have a read of the textbooks. The Edexcel ones were only just out and unhelpfully didn’t include the philosophy sections and famous political thinkers (utilitarianism etc etc). The Edexcel World Politics book may as well be called ‘Everything that’s happened in the World since WW2’. Comparing different UN factions of conferences in different years for example. Unhelpfully, too, were questions in the exam about Brexit in the past tense.
I think it should obviously get easier in terms of having more information. However, the problem when quoting political systems etc is that, with Boris and Trump distain for rules is that, for example when discussing a question about sovereignty and supreme courts, you now can’t so well.
She did love the debating in class and learnt a lot of very useful stuff but the volume of stuff was extreme. There’s no way our local MP knows half this stuff.
Sorry for rambling post...on a train... but hope this give you some food for thought.
History, Maths and Another - Economics would be good. Not Gvt and Politics.
I would strongly recommend he does Politics A Level if he wants to do Politics. Dds teacher, who has taught and examined Government and Politics for years, said it’s like they’ve added the first year of a BA to the A Level.
Almost none of the students at our school going on to PPE have done Politics A level. A lot of those going on to read Politics elsewhere have done Politics A level. I was responding to PPE, by which I assumed OP meant Oxford.
Dd’s boyf did maths, further maths, history and economics (plus epq) for oxford Offer was AAA
I don’t think Government and Politics was regarded a ‘facilitating subject’. The new Politics should be (!) but not sure the universities will realise how the course has changed yet. It is very interesting, you learn a LOT and the universities will be finding out there will be a very big difference between those who have studied it at A Level and those who haven’t.
If the school have only just started offering it check how experienced the teacher is. Is it something that the existing economics teacher has got lumbered with, or a specialist.
There's no reason the new Politics should ever be a facilitating subject .
Also it was one of the fastest growing A Levels this year. Very good for the country - hopefully we’ll get some better politicians.
I think one issue at our school is that there was a marked degree of overlap between the History syllabus and the Politics syllabus. Going for PPE without History is probably a mistake and doing a lot of the same stuff across two different subjects is arguably a bit weak.
DS did history, RS and economics with maths to AS and got offers for PPE. Ended up doing History and Politics after a gap year as decided he just wasn't that into Economics. Needed 3 As for all the courses he applied for.
In Politics there were philosophy, geography, history and economic crossovers. Bit of law too. Very interesting but not for faint-hearted.
Is he actually thinking about Oxford/ Cambridge?
Thanks, very helpful. He is reading the replies with me.
Obviously it is very early days, as he hasn't even sat his GCSEs yet, but he is predicted 8s and 9s at a not particularly pushy school.
He is thinking Oxford (PPE) or LSE (History and Politics). His main concern was that politics would be seen as the weaker of the two - volume of stuff is fine with him. He has always been mad about history, particularly political history, since a tiny child. He has looked through the A Level stuff and said it looked like history but current.
I actually think it would suit him better than economics, but he's torn. I'm just worried about him signing up for four. It's a shame they don't do a joint a level!
Politics seems to be taught by the history departments. Economics by the maths departments.
Everything I've read says that you may need two facilitating subjects, which will be maths and history. So doesn't matter what his third is?
He has looked through the A Level stuff and said it looked like history but current.
That’s how my Dd describes it. In truth there were whole sections on global poverty, environment etc too (in her option). One or two ideologies/ key thinkers fit in with more modern Russian history very nicely.
I read Economics at Cambridge and did British Government and Politics as one of my 3 A levels, History and Economics were my other two. They were fine with it - was at a comprehensive. Then it was a very easy A Level for anyone interested in politics - I taught it myself as school didn't offer it and got an A. History then stopped before WW2 and politics was post WW2 so no overlap then but check syllabuses. I had the impression they actually liked it as it showed I had enthusiasm for politics, it was the only A Level discussed other than the subject interview. If there's any chance he will do Economics you need Maths now. I went for that rather than PPE as it opens a few more jobs up. I would go for Economics, History, Politics though could start on 4 and see how it goes. Wouldn't recommend continuing 4 as its the first 3 they count.
This are some of the topics Dd did (copied off old email) for Edexcel Politics:
UK (Paper 1)
the constitution, parliament, modern Prime Ministers and executive, relationships between the branches, in depth study from: anarchism, ecologism, feminism, nationalism, multiculturalism.
Global Politics (Paper 2):
sovereignty and globalisation, global governance: political and economic, global governance: human rights and environmental, power and developments, regionalism and the European Union, comparative theories.
The political textbooks were twice as long as the history ones and still missed out chunks. Being from 2017 they are now well out of date!
I disagree with a pp saying politics overlapped with history but the most modern history bit Dd did was Stalin/ Trotsky stuff which helped for a lesson or two on ideologies.
Thank you, that is a great help!
Pandas seem to love politics. My DS is only 12 (ASD) and everyday after school he asks me what has Boris been up to today and then goes downstairs to sit with his 4 foot soft toy panda.