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What will I learn?
Course details
Unit 1: British Period Study & Enquiry – The Later Tudors
  • Enquiry focus – The Mid Tudors 1547-1558
  • Depth Study Focus – The Reign of Elizabeth I

This unit examines a fascinating period of history in which the religion of England changed from Catholic to Protestant, and back again, before the Elizabethan Settlement in 1559. The impact on the people, the culture and the politics of the country is explored in depth with a specific focus on the Mid Tudor period and whether the rebellions of 1549 and 1554 reflect a growing sense of crisis in the realm. The growing authority of Parliament and central government is examined, as are the foreign policy decisions taken by each ruler. The study ends with an examination of Elizabeth’s reign and whether she really was the ‘greatest’ Tudor.

Unit 2: Non-British Period Study – Democracy & Dictatorships in Germany 1918-1963

This climactic period of German history takes us from the end of the Kaiser’s rule following Germany’s ‘defeat’ in WWI through to the development of the Berlin Wall. The Weimar Republic and its impact, both culturally and economically, will be examined in-depth, as will the rise of the Nazis, their time in power and the impact of WWII. The post war division of Germany and the ideological clash between East and West will be explored, as will the wider implications of the Cold War. This unit also affords us the opportunity to visit Munich, Nuremberg and Berlin during the Easter holidays of Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth.

Unit 3: Thematic Study & Interpretations – From Colonialism to Independence: The British Empire 1857–1965

This is a fascinating and hugely relevant thematic study which focuses on the changing nature of the British Empire over this period. Students will assess and understand the factors which encouraged and discouraged change during this period. Students will study developments across the whole of the Empire, including Asia (e.g., India, Malaya), North Africa and the Middle East (e.g., Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq), East and West Africa (e.g., Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Gold Coast, Nigeria), Southern Africa (e.g., North and South Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Bechuanaland), the Caribbean, Canada and Australia/New Zealand. The focus is on the British Empire, and knowledge is not expected of other European empires; however, students will draw in knowledge of developments in other empires in so far as they impacted the British Empire.

You will not be expected to demonstrate a detailed understanding of the specification content, except for the named in-depth studies; however, you will be expected to know the main developments and turning points relevant to the theme.

Unit 4: Non-exam Assessment: Topic-based Independent Essay

This unit affords students the opportunity to investigate a period of history in which they have a deep interest. It can be on any period, providing there is sufficient debate, controversy and argument surrounding it. Examples of past work include:

  • Women’s Rights and the Impact of the Suffragettes
  • The Impact of British Rule in India
  • The Causes of the Italian Renaissance
  • The Causes of the Wars of the Roses
  • The Impact of the Black Death in England
  • The Reasons for Improvements in Prisons and also Crime Detection in the 19th Century
Who should choose History?

The main difference is the emphasis on independent reading, research and reporting back to your class each lesson. There is a large focus on group and individual presentations and also discussion and debates, which are in much more depth. You cannot plan to come to an A Level History lesson unprepared, so you need to be organised from the start! Many of the skills required for A Level History are the same as for GCSE; although, this does not preclude anyone from taking A Level History, if they have not studied GCSE. There is a lot of reading and note-taking, and you are expected to form your own arguments and support these with specific evidence. You should be prepared to have an opinion, share it, work hard and be independent in both your effort and motivation.

You should choose History if you are independent minded, enjoy debating, like to understand the world around you and its historical context and if you are thinking of going into any profession which will involve analysis of documents, people or situations! This is why History can be ideal preparation for virtually any job.

What other subjects will go well with History?

History is a subject that can be studied alongside any other subject, such are the broad range of transferable skills you will develop. However, History is clearly a subject that goes very well with Geography in understanding the world around us both now and in its historical context. The development of people, places and how they develop and interact with their environment is clearly crucial to both subjects.

History also goes very well with Politics and Economics. An understanding of political and economic trends over time is also critical in developing an understanding of our current climate and how governments and politicians react and plan accordingly. How far do they take into consideration historical trends and can they (should they) learn from the past?

Finally, History will also go very well with Drama and Art. An understanding of the context of both plays and performance and how these were developed, written and produced will be critical to any Drama student. Equally, Art is a subject that works brilliantly alongside History. Understanding the context of the work, whether this be painting, sculpture or photography, is key. I would recommend that anyone studying Art also considers History as one of their A Levels.

Course details

This is a linear course. All of the examinations take place at the end of Upper Sixth.

Unit 1 (Tudors) will be a one hour and 30 minute examination with some sources on which to base your enquiry and a choice of essays.

Unit 2 (Germany) will be an hour long examination with a mixture of shorter and longer questions.

Unit 3 (Colonialism and Independence) will be a two hour and 30 minute examination with a choice of essay questions and two historians’ views, which you will be expected to interpret and analyse.

Unit 4 will be internally assessed, with the deadline at the end of the autumn term for assessment over Christmas. This will ensure you already have a mark for this unit on your return in January of Upper Sixth.

Where can I find out more?

Please speak to Mrs Wellman: if you have any further questions about the course.

Beyond the classroom

Employers value History as an A Level. This is a fact. The amount of transferable skills such as analysis, evaluation, independent reading and study, presenting arguments, developing opinions and reaching conclusions; all are valuable skills in a whole range of industries. Most historians will follow a career path that utilises many of these skills. These may well include Education, Curating in museums, Archaeology, Law, Journalism, Project Management or Architecture. The list is endless. Many former students and also peers have gone into charity work around the world where their historical education has made them ideally placed to understand the context and difficulties societies or communities may face. Other former students have become managers in National Trust or English Heritage sites, having worked their way up, and are now running or helping to manage and conserve the nation’s past. There are a vast number of options for any A Level historian to consider.

"The best thing about studying History A Level was the independent coursework we began in Lower Sixth. I loved everything we were taught, but this was my favourite unit because of the independence it afforded us. The fact that we were given a free range of topics meant we really could delve into anything that fascinated us. This also meant I was fascinated by my coursework, and so I worked really hard on it – although it would have been impossible without the help of the extremely dedicated History department and the one-on-one tuition provided. My coursework also helped me gain experience in historical research, which will be incredibly useful to all aspects of my degree. The fact I have chosen to read History proves what an enjoyable and fascinating A Level it is!" Alice, Sixth Former