A Level History will allow you to develop and practice the skills of an historian, focusing on ancient and contemporary issues. You will be encouraged to make links and explore issues between the different aspects of the course.
You should be a keen historian with a thirst for learning about what has happened before our time and the influences that it has.
What will I learn?
The A Level History course has been deliberately chosen to provide students with a broad range of periods of study, very different from the content of GCSE. Four units are undertaken across the two years.
How will I learn?
Lessons will continue to be taught according to the same principles that are used to teach the GCSE course. Three of the units are assessed in the summer of the second year in separate exams. England 1485-1558: The Early Tudors + Mid Tudor Crises 1hour 30 minutes (25% of A Level), The French Revolution and the Rule of Napoleon 1 hour (15% of A Level), Russia and its Rulers 1855-1964 2 hours 30 minutes (40% of A Level).
These exams are predominantly essay based papers therefore students will not only be required to compile a comprehensive portfolio of class notes but will also be required to write a series of essays for each topic over the course of the year. A reading list is provided for each of the units as students will be expected to commit to further reading in order to extend their knowledge and understanding of historical interpretations.
Y106 England 1485-1558: The Early Tudors + Mid Tudor Crisis
British period study and enquiry 50 marks 1 hour 30 minute paper 25% of total A level
In the first year of study, students will study an essay based topic: England 1485-1547: The Early Tudors. This unit introduces the usurper Henry VII, focusing on his claim to the throne, his government and threats to his rule. Students also investigate the success of Henry VII’s foreign policy and the reign of his son Henry VIII. Students then study an enquiry topic, Mid Tudor Crises 1547-1558. The enquiry topic is a source based study through which students investigate the stability of the monarchy under Edward VI and Mary I’s religious change and the impact of rebellion and unrest under their rule.
Y221 Democracy and Dictatorship in Germany 1919-1963
Non-British period study 30 marks 1 hour paper 15% of total A level
This unit builds upon the Germany module studied at GCSE. It covers German history from the end of World War One, looking at the reasons for the failure of the democratic Weimar Republic. It then covered the rise of the Nazis and the impact of Nazi rule in Germany from 1933-45. It finishes by examining the impact of the Cold War on Germany and the reasons why Germany was divided.
Y318 Russia and its Rulers 1855-1964
Thematic study and historical interpretations 80 marks 2 hour 30 minute paper 40% of total A level
There are two elements to the thematic study and historical interpretations unit group: the thematic essay which will require students to consider developments over at least 100 years and the in-depth interpretation element where students will comprehend, analyse and evaluate the ways in which the past has been interpreted by historians, by using their knowledge of specific individuals, events or developments that are prominent within the theme.
This theme focuses on the nature of Russian government and its impact on the Russian people and society. Students will investigate the similarities and differences between the autocratic rule of the Tsars to 1917 and the subsequent Communist dictatorship which was established. This unit focuses on the changing nature of government in Russia, the impact of dictatorial regimes on the economy and society of the Russian Empire and the USSR and the impact of war and revolution on the development of the Russian Empire.
The depth studies focus on the domestic reforms of Tsar Alexander II, the establishment and impact of the Provisional Government in 1917 and Khrushchev in power 1956–1964.
3000–4000 word essay Non exam assessment 40 marks 20% of total A level
The History A unit Y100 Topic based essay is an independently researched essay of 3000–4000 words in length. This unit is a non-exam assessment. The work will be marked within school and moderated by OCR. The essay must be based on the independent investigation of an historical issue. The issue may arise from the study of a period or topic in unit groups 1–3, or it may be on a topic, or from a period, that students have not studied as part of the A level course. The topic for this essay cannot be the same as that chosen for the in-depth interpretation topics studied within Unit Group 3. This provides students with the opportunity to develop their source analysis skills, ability to structure an argument, analyse and evaluate evidence and weigh up historical debates and interpretations.
The Minimum Entry Requirements are 5 Grade 4 and above at GCSE including English and Mathematics with at least a grade 5 in GCSE History and English Language.
You could go on to study in Higher Education History, Classics, Archaeology, Law or European Studies. The research skills, handling of different interpretations, source-handling skills, literacy skills and ability to rationalise, analyse, prioritise and argue persuasively, developed through critical essay-writing, will be useful and appreciated on almost any Higher Education course as well as most employment sectors. History students are well-prepared for almost any career from law, police work, politics, journalism or even teaching.