History - A level

The A level history course prepares and equips students with the skills for degree level study, further education and the world of work. The A level course comprises of three units assessed as exams and coursework undertaken in Year 13.

In Year 12 we study two units. Challenges to the authority of the state in the late 18th and 19th centuries covers the period from 1785 to the end of the 19th century. Students investigate how much political reform had been achieved and how this impacted on society. Topics like poverty, living and working conditions, child labour and the spread of industrialisation are also covered.

The unification of Germany, c1840-71 is the second Year 12 unit from Challenges to the authority of the state in the late 18th and 19th century. Students will complete a depth study to investigate the events that led to Germany becoming one unified nation. They will cover the political situation in the 1840s that led to revolution and why revolution failed, the rivalry between Austria and Prussia and how Prussia eventually achieved dominance, becoming the leaders of the new unified Germany in 1871.

The Year 13 unit, which is exam assessed, is the witch craze in Britain and North America, c1580-c1750. This examines the perception of witchcraft and its place in society during this period. The case studies investigated are the North Berwick trials, Pendle in Lancashire, Bamberg in Germany, Matthew Hopkins in East Anglia and the Salem trials in North America. 

There is also a coursework unit in Year 13, which is based on independent study. The assessment focus is the analysis and evaluation of interpretations by key historians and the topic focus is the causes of World War One. Students investigate the ongoing debate over the causes of the conflict and analyse the reasons why there was so much tension, paranoia and rivalry in Europe, reaching a reasoned conclusion over which explanation they are most convinced by.

I have a really good understanding of periods in English and European history and have learnt about really interesting topics. I feel my ability to write an essay and use evidence to support my point of view has really improved. I can see this in my marks, lately and I feel a lot more confident.
Abigail Swann, Year 13

Year 12

Learning outcomes

Students follow the Edexcel A level specification which encourages them to develop their interest in and enthusiasm for history as well as an understanding of its

intrinsic value and significance to the present.  Students will acquire an understanding of different identities within society and an appreciation of aspects such as social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity.  They will build on their understanding of the past through experiencing a broad and

balanced course of study and improve their skills as effective and independent learners, and as critical and reflective thinkers with curious and enquiring minds.

Topics taught

  • The growth of parliamentary democracy
  • Industrialisation and protest
  • Unionism and co-operation
  • Poverty and pauperism
  • Abolition of the slave trade
  • Popular pressure and causes of revolution in Germany
  • Failure of revolution
  • Austro-Prussian rivalry
  • Prussia and the Kleindeutshland solution
  • Writing historically

Year 13

Learning outcomes

Year 13 builds on the interest and enthusiasm of Year 12 and has a coursework element. Throughout the course students will develop the ability to ask relevant and significant questions about the past and research them, acquiring an enhanced understanding of the nature of historical study.  They will learn how to make judgements based on available evidence and interpretations, demonstrating that there is not one ultimate version of history.  To do this, students develop their use and understanding of historical terms, concepts and skills to make links and draw comparisons within and/or across different time periods and aspects of the past.  Students will learn to present their historical knowledge and understanding in different ways by presenting a coherent argument and reaching substantiated judgements.

Topics taught

  • Changing attitudes to witchcraft in Britain.
  • The wider intellectual context: the coming of the age of science and reason
  • The North Berwick witch trials and the aftermath
  • The Lancashire witches of 1604-13
  • The Great Witch-Hunt in Bamberg, Germany
  • Matthew Hopkins and the east Anglican witch craze
  • Cotton Mather and the Salem witch-hunt
  • Investigation into the causes of World War I
  • Understanding of interpretations
  • Writing historically
I have enjoyed history and feel I have learnt lots of new skills. I have been supported throughout my studies by both of my teachers and have achieved some really good grades. I have learnt to question everything and not take anything at face value.
Lily Bird, Year 13 student