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History

History is a highly respected A level and very popular at degree level. A level history will help students develop knowledge about key political, social and economic features and issues of past British, European and global events that help us understand situations in the world today, enabling us to be well-informed citizens.

The topics are very varied and I have learned a lot about Britain and the rest of the world, which has helped me understand what is happening today and sparked an interest in politics. I have enjoyed history so much that I have applied to study it at university.
Year 13 student

A level history is about the acquisition of vital learning skills as students need to be able to read and digest large amounts of information and pick out what is and is not relevant to the question. History will teach students how to analyse, reflect and formulate arguments and well-substantiated judgements, both verbally and in writing. 

Studying A level history not only helps improve students' knowledge of the past but also helps to develop skills that are invaluable in many jobs. Some of the skills include analysing, researching, communication and problem-solving. Students will learn how to prioritise information and learn how to make vital decisions, helping to build an important skill set needed for progression into university or a career. The analytical skills required for history at A level made it a natural foundation for anyone wishing to study law, archaeology or become a teacher for example. 

 

YEAR 12

 

Learning outcomes

  • Paper 1 has two focuses: themes (breadth) and historical interpretations (depth).  The four themes focus on developments and changes over a broad timescale. As well as understanding the content, students will need to develop skills necessary to answer questions that target knowledge and understanding of the period. With understanding the substantive content, students will need to develop skills necessary to answer questions that target the ability to analyse and evaluate historical interpretations.
  • Paper 2 is focused on depth, requiring more detailed knowledge and understanding of the topic, and over a shorter time period, than Paper 1. The content is organised into four key topics. As well as understanding the content, students will need to develop skills necessary to answer questions that target knowledge and understanding of the period with questions that target the ability to analyse and evaluate sources.

The Year 12 curriculum aims to: 

  • Develop students’  interest in and enthusiasm for history and an understanding of its intrinsic value and significance
  • Acquire an understanding of different identities within society and an appreciation of aspects such as social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, as appropriate
  • Build on students’ understanding of the past through experiencing a broad and balanced course of study
  • Improve students’ skills as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers with curious and enquiring minds
  • Develop students’ ability to ask relevant and significant questions about the past and to research them
  • Acquire an understanding of the nature of historical study, for example that history is concerned with judgements based on available evidence and that historical judgements are provisional
  • Develop students’ use and understanding of historical terms, concepts and skills, making  links and drawing comparisons within and/or across different periods and aspects of the past; and organise and communicate their historical knowledge and understanding in different ways, arguing a case and reaching substantiated judgements

Topics taught

Paper 1: Britain, c1785–c1870: democracy, protest and reform

 

  • This option comprises a study in breadth, in which students will learn about the process of change in Britain in the period,

and the extent to which popular pressure, protest and

co-operation were responsible for political, economic and social change.The focus of study is on developments and changes over a broad timescale and so the content is presented as themes spanning a significant duration: c1785–c1870. This option also contains a study in depth of historical interpretations on a broad question that is contextualised by, and runs parallel to, the themes: reasons for the abolition of the slave trade at the end of the period, c1785–1807.

Paper 2: The unification of Germany, c1840–71

  • This option comprises a study in depth of the German states in the 1840s, through the failure of the revolutions of 1848–49, to the decline of Austrian power and the creation of a new German state under the leadership of Prussia in the years to 1871. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the nature and extent of change in this period, nationalist challenges and conservative resistance, and how Prussia used its economic and military power to remove Austrian influence within Germany and establish itself as the dominant German power by 1871.

 

YEAR 13

 

Learning outcomes

Paper 3 comprises of two parts: the aspects in breadth focus on long-term changes and contextualise the aspects in depth, which focus in detail on key episodes. Together, the breadth and depth topics explore the nature of the witch craze that took hold in the late sixteenth century and the changing attitudes to magic and sorcery that eventually contributed to its decline. Together, students will study the social, economic, political and dimensions of the phenomenon, and the broad intellectual changes that ushered in what is often called the Age of Reason.

  • Coursework unit: The purpose of this coursework is to enable students to develop skills in the analysis and evaluation of interpretations of history in the debate over the causes of World War I as part of an independently researched assignment of 4000 words. The focus is on understanding the nature and purpose of the work of the historian. Students will be required to form a critical view based on relevant reading on the question.  They will also be specifically required to analyse, explain and evaluate the interpretations of three historians.

The Year 13 curriculum aims to build on the knowledge and skills developed in Year 12.

  • To develop students’  interest in and enthusiasm for history and an understanding of its intrinsic value and significance
  • Acquire an understanding of different identities within society and an appreciation of aspects such as social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, as appropriate
  • Build on students’ understanding of the past through experiencing a broad and balanced course of study
  • Improve students’ skills as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers with curious and enquiring minds
  • Develop students’ ability to ask relevant and significant questions about the past and to research them
  • Acquire an understanding of the nature of historical study, for example that history is concerned with judgements based on available evidence and that historical judgements are provisional
  • Develop students’ use and understanding of historical terms, concepts and skills, making  links and drawing comparisons within and/or across different periods and aspects of the past; and organise and communicate their historical knowledge and understanding in different ways, arguing a case and reaching substantiated judgements

 

Topics taught

  • Paper 3: The witch craze in Britain, Europe and North America, c1580–c1750
  • Coursework: Historians disagree over the causes of World War I.  What, in your view, was the most significant factor that caused World War I?

 

 

Link to exam specification

 

 

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/history-2015.coursematerials.html#filterQuery=category:Pearson-UK:Category%2FSpecification-and-sample-assessments