Brexit and climate change said to be behind surge in politics A-level

Brexit and discussions around global warming have contributed to the almost 10 per cent surge in pupils studying political studies A-level, a senior figure at one of the leading exam boards has said.

Political studies has seen the largest proportional increase in entries across all A-levels this year. A total of 19,729 pupils sat the exam – a rise of 9.8 per cent compared to last year’s 17,964 entries.

During a Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) briefing this morning, Derek Richardson, vice president of Pearson, attributed the sharp incline to national and international political and social events, such as the UK leaving the European Union and growing concerns around climate change.

Richardson said: “We are seeing an increase in entries across humanities, social and political subjects.

“The biggest change is in political studies and psychology, which continues that trend of students having much greater interest in these subjects.

“It’s especially interesting, given the impact of climate change and current political events with Brexit and the situation across the world.”

He added: “Students are perhaps choosing subjects that they feel will be most interesting and relevant to them in their futures.”

Richardson highlighted that, around the time students were selecting their A-levels in 2016, discussions around these key topics and the US election were rife.

He said: “So geopolitical events were probably more interesting at that time than they probably have been for a long time. So it’s interesting that students’ interest in global events is being reflected in the choices that people are making.”

Psychology saw the second highest proportional increase – up 8.2 per cent to 64,598 this year. Computing was up 8.1 per cent to 11,124 and history saw a rise of 5.1 per cent to 51,438.

Mathematics A-level remains the most popular subject, but exam boards have been forced to stand by their grade boundaries after it was revealed yesterday that just 14 per cent was needed to pass the Edexcel exam paper.

Exams regulator Ofqual said it will investigate why the grade boundaries between this year and last year’s papers were “so different”.