- Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Department of Government and Politics in St Columb's College
If you find the following questions intriguing, then Politics is the course for you:
.What's wrong with the way Northern Ireland is governed, and how can we fix it?.
.What does Barack Obama's election victory in 2008 say about race in America?.
.How important a role does the media play in politics?.
Government and Politics A-level has been taught at St. Columb’s College since 1998 and is a very popular (and successful) subject, with large numbers of students in Years 13 and 14, many of whom go on to study the subject at university.
We believe that Politics affords students the opportunity to investigate, understand and appreciate key political issues, events and personalities and helps them to recognise the influence that these have had in shaping our world today.
Through the study of Politics, the student should be encouraged to:
• Develop a critical awareness of the nature of politics and the relationship between political ideas, institutions and processes;
• Acquire knowledge and understanding of the structures of authority and power within the political system of the United Kingdom, and how these many differ from those of other political systems;
• Acquire knowledge and informed understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the individual; and
• Develop an interest in and engagement with contemporary politics.
All of which will help develop each student as:
• An individual;
• A contributor to society;
• A contributor to the economy and the environment
Ideally we seek to assist each student to develop the ability to think in an independent manner and to challenge stereotypical, biased or distorted viewpoints when he contemplates past, present or future events.
Government & Politics is a challenging and engaging subject that require academic vigour as well as independent thinking and enthusiasm. The subject carry a lot of weight when it comes to further education and later employment but also provide the opportunity for A-Level students to challenge their own preconceptions about the past and learn a great deal about the world in which we live.
The Department has a long-established Politics Society run by an elected committee of Year 13/14 students. The Politics Society organises talks by visiting speakers - including politicians, journalists and representatives from pressure groups. We also hold 'mock elections', which enable students to experience political campaigning and debate issues.
What our pupils think:
‘..I enjoy studying Politics as it gives me a chance of keeping up to date with current affairs…’
‘..Politics increases awareness of national/international issues…’
‘..Politics helps develop key skills…which can be used in other subjects like History, English, Economics…’
‘..The Politics Society is an excellent way of developing organisational skills…it gives us a voice…
‘..Politics gives me the chance to meet Political leaders from all sections of the community in Northern Ireland…
‘..Politics is excellent as I can learn how the decisions that affect me are made in Stormont and Westminster…’
At present there are four politics teachers:
• Mr L. Boyle (Subject leader)
• Mr F. Madden
• Mrs C. McLaughlin
• Mr. J. McQuillan
We are mainly based in Room 48, equipped with ICT and AV resources. Room 48 and the School Library are well stocked with politics books and journals which students are expected to read regularly. They also use the school's ICT facilities to conduct research and create presentations.
Since 1998, the Department continues to follow the CCEA syllabus. In Year 13 we focus on the Government and Politics of Northern Ireland and the British Political Process. Unit 1 looks at the NI Assembly/Executive, NI Political parties and Electoral Systems. Unit 2 focuses on the role of the British Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Judiciary.
In Year 14, Unit 1, students will study a module on the Comparative Government of the UK and USA. The synoptic element (Unit 2)of A2 deals with the issue of Political Power and it requires a greater sophistication of essay writing, and the ability to evaluate different political perspectives.
The link to the Government and Politics Microsite is: http://www.ccea.org.uk/government/
Year 13 and year 14 students have attended conferences delivered by eminent politicians, academics and political theorists, on topics relevant to the AS or A Level course: one very successful conference held this year was the ‘Let’s Talk’ seminar held in the Guildhall: in attendance at this were students from Derry and politicians from the main Political parties in Northern Ireland. Year 13 have the opportunities to visit Parliament Buildings, Stormont, during the first few weeks of their second term. We have also invited a number of political figures to address Politics Students (including Mark Durkan MP and Martina Anderson MLA). The Politics Society also organised a very successful debate between MLAs from the SDLP, Sinn Féin and the UUP in the lead up to the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly elections.