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History may be about the past but the study of it leads to a better understanding of the present, and helps shape the future.

Many people worldwide enjoy history. There are dramatic events and stories but it is the details behind the headlines that make the subject fascinating. There is something to entice everyone whether it be biographical, military, social, economic, religious, political, or ancient. History can be accessed and become exciting as a result of visiting a place, investigating a character or unravelling the story behind an artefact.

History is rich with details. Yet because those details can be interpreted differently the subject offers more than one conclusion or outcome.

In school, history should foster a life long interest in the subject. It is a subject that challenges students to question; to use and assess evidence; and to reach conclusions based on evidence. Students are encouraged to become investigative; they are challenged to assess bias and propaganda; they are encouraged to be confident when expressing their opinion. All of these are life skills useful in the work place.


At the start of Year 7, students are taught historical skills. This is followed by a local project. The rest of the year is spent studying the Middle Ages. In Year 8, students are introduced to British History from 1500 to 1900.

It is intended that the Year 7 and Year 8 course should form a thematic whole with the emphasis being upon the development of citizenship in this country and the way political, religious and economic forces have affected its progress. Hence, Year 7 students are taught about the first restrictions on the power of kings such as the Catholic Church, Magna Carta, the development of common law and parliament. Later, they are taught about the English Reformation and the effect it had on the development of parliament.

The further development of parliament is studied in work on the Civil War, The Glorious Revolution and the Bill of Rights. Students learn about the birth of modern political parties and about the concept of loyal opposition. Work on the Industrial Revolution shows how public demand led to parliament taking on an increasing role in the lives of ordinary people and in reforming the franchise.

In Year 9, the focus switches from the British Isles to international events. The main theme is the changing nature of warfare and how this has been affected by technological developments. Towards the end of Year 9, students learn about the slave trade and the civil rights movement in the Unites States.

Every two or three years, the department takes 120 students across all year groups to visit museums and sites associated with the First World War; this is invaluable preparation for the GCSE course.



Year 7 

  • What is History? Students will understand key historical terms and use them correctly; arrange dates into chronological order and develop an understanding of sources and how they can be useful in different ways.
  • Why did William win the Battle of Hastings? Students will be able to understand what life was like before the Norman Conquest; evaluate the different contenders’ claims to the throne and categorise and explain the reasons for William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings.
  • How did the Normans gain control of England? Students will learn how life changed under William I; assess the problems that William faced when he came to the throne and evaluate the impact of changes to life in towns and villages on medieval peasants.
  • What was life like in Medieval England? Students will understand the importance of religion in everyday life; evaluate the impact of changes to life in towns and villages on medieval peasants and assess the impact of the Black Death on the lives on the population of medieval England.
  • Knights, Castles and Crusaders – why do people fight? Students will understand the importance of the development of castles; examine the different ways to attack and defend a castle; understand the progression of a squire to a knight and examine the causes, impact and consequences of the Crusades.
  • What problems did medieval monarchs face? Students will understand how and why monarchs reacted the way they did to problems they faced during their reign; evaluate the successes and failures of each monarch; understand the chronology of the medieval period and investigate the impact of each monarch’s reign on the people

There is an assessment at the end of each topic.

Year 8 

  • How secure was the Tudor dynasty? Students are challenged to assess the reasons for Henry Tudor’s successful usurpation of the English throne; understand the reasons for Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church and the onward impact of the religious changes and understand why there was a succession crisis after Edward VI died.
  • A Mid Tudor Crisis?  Students are encouraged to assess the reasons for Henry Tudor’s successful usurpation of the English throne; understand the reasons for Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church and the onward impact of the religious changes and understand why there was a succession crisis after Edward VI died.
  • James I to Charles I: how did the King lose control of his kingdom? Students will assess the consequences of the changing relationship between the king, parliament and the people; evaluate the role that religion played in the drift towards war and understand the long-term causes of the Civil War.
  • James I to Charles I: How did the king lose control of his kingdom? Students will assess the consequences of the changing relationship between the king, parliament and the people; evaluate the role that religion played in the drift towards war and understand the long-term causes of the Civil War.
  • The World Turned Upside Down. Students assess the reasons why the two sides resorted to war; understand the course of the English Civil War; examine the reasons why Charles I was executed and evaluate Oliver Cromwell as a ruler.
  • Britain the Workshop of the World? Students will become knowledgeable in how life changed with the coming of the industrial age; evaluate the social and economic impact of industrialisation and assess the impact of Britain’s status on her emerging empire.
  • Could you get justice in Victorian Britain? Students will be able to understand what life was like in the slums for working class people; understand the typical crimes that were committed and their resulting punishments and investigate key criminal figures from the period such as Jack the Ripper.

There is an assessment at the end of each topic.

Year 9

  • Was World War One Inevitable? Students will evaluate the reasons for the drift towards war; categorise responsibilities for the outbreak of war and understand how a European conflict became a World War.
  • What was life like for the soldiers on the front-line? Students will assess the success of key battles in WWI; understand the personal impact of war on the soldiers and examine the changes in warfare over the period.
  • Why did the Second World War affect so many people? Students will understand the drift towards war; assess the impact of the Second World War on the civilian population of Britain and understand the importance of key events on the course of the war.
  • The Holocaust: A Warning from History? Students will understand the range of people within Germany and occupied Europe affected by the Holocaust; evaluate different individuals and group responsibility for the Holocaust and assess the historical context in which the Holocaust takes place.
  • From Slavery to Emancipation? Students will understand the stages that an African captive would go through from freedom to slavery; evaluate the impact of slavery on the individual and assess the extent to which slaves achieved freedom in America.
  • Civil Rights Movement. Students study the background to the civil rights movement in the US; explain the different methods employed in the movement; assess the significance of the different methods and evaluate the impact of the civil rights movement on America.

There is an assessment at the end of each topic.


History not only enables students to understand the past and its impact on the present but it also teaches students valuable skills that can be transferred to both the workplace and higher education.

The principal transferable skill that the study of History helps to develop is critical reasoning and thinking skills, which means that students are able to problem solve and think creatively. As they progress through the key stages they increasingly learn the dynamics of analysis and interpretation through research and gain an understanding of the historical profession. Students will have engaged in discussions and be able to formulate reasoned and substantive arguments. Communication skills, both written and verbal, are the cornerstone of historical study and give students the confidence to present ideas and arguments to their peers. History students are particularly adept at reading a range of complex and disparate sources and synthesising this information into clear and concise text.

The exam board is Edexcel – The course code is 1H10.

This course has been designed to help students understand the world around us today. Students study the evolution of ideas and concepts across the medieval, early modern and modern periods. Despite the diverse nature of the topics, students learn to make links and draw comparisons across different periods and aspects of the past.

Textbooks, for each topic studied, are issued to the students and there are published revision booklets available to buy. Throughout the course, students should take every opportunity to read around the topic and watch relevant documentaries.

The course comprises of five topics, which are assessed in three examinations at the end of the course.

There are five components to the examination.

Topic 1 – Medicine in Britain, c.1250-present

This depth study examines the changes in medicine over time. Students will specifically look at how the diagnosis and treatment of diseases are influenced by religious beliefs, scientific theory and the work of individuals. Students examine how these ideas change over time and how that change is influenced by the church, government, science and technology. The key events covered include the Black Death, the Great Plague, cholera epidemics of the nineteenth-century and present-day medicine in Britain. Key individuals such as Galen, William Harvey, Edward Jenner, Florence Nightingale, John Snow and Alexander Fleming are also studied.

Topic 2 – The British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: injuries, treatment and the trenches.

Students focus on the theatres of war on the Western Front and see how medical treatment of soldiers was affected by the conditions of the trenches, terrain, transport, infrastructure and communications. Students study the types of injuries sustained by those fighting on the Western Front but also place this within the context of medicine at the start of the twentieth century.

Topic 3 – Early Elizabethan England, 1558-88

The depth study focuses on a short span of time that requires a greater look at the complexities of the historical situation. In this topic students study Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. Specifically,  the issues over her gender and marriage; the threats that Elizabeth I faced at home such as the religious settlement and Mary Queen of Scots; the problems she faced from abroad, particularly, Spain and the Armada. Students see how Elizabeth I invested in overseas trade and exploration as well as in the development of leisure time with sport and the theatre.

Topic 4 – Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941-91

Students will study the origins of the Cold War and the ideological differences between East and West. The development and deterioration of relations will be shown through the Cold War crises that mark key events in the twentieth century, but also in this conflict. These events include the establishment of the Berlin Wall, the Bay of Pigs incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the nuclear arms race. Finally, the thawing of relations, the importance of Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ and the influence of Regan to the fall of the Berlin Wall and its greater significance in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Topic 5 – Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918-39

This unit focuses on the newly founded post-war democracy. It looks at the challenges it faces in terms of political, economic and social factors. The course investigates how Weimar Germany allows the development of extreme parties, charting the rise of the Nazis and Hitler to the position of Chancellor.

Students study how Hitler takes control, forming a dictatorship, putting down opposition parties, and persecuting minorities. Social aspects of the regime are also studied, specifically looking at the importance of youth and women.


The five topics are assessed across three exam papers using a mixture of short-answer knowledge questions, essays and source questions. There is no controlled assessment or coursework.

Grades 9-1 are available.



OCR Advanced GCE in History (H505)

This qualification is designed to foster the development of critical and reflective thinking with an understanding of historical topics and issues; it encourages an understanding of the importance of historical awareness in explaining contemporary issues. OCR’s A-level History has been designed to emphasise the importance of knowledge and argument. It encompasses a large range of traditional and new optional units. Its aim is to create independent learners, critical thinkers and decision makers: all personal assets that can make a student stand out as they progress to higher education and the workplace.

The main focus of the course is on English history from the mid-15th Century to the end of the 16th Century, encompassing the Wars of the Roses and the Tudor monarchs. In order to provide students with an area outside this focus and one with which they are familiar, we have included a European topic covering the first part of the 20th Century that covers Weimar and Nazi Germany and extends into post-war divided Germany.

Students are assessed using a wide variety of methods including coursework, essays and interpretative questions.

Many of our students go on to study History at university as a single honours degrees or as part of a joint honours degree.

Overview of Units and Topic

                     Unit 1 – British Period Study and Enquiry

A study of England from 1461 to 1509.

The key topics for study are:-

  • Edwards IV’s first rule and the crisis of 1470-1471.
  • Edward IV and Richard III, 1471-1485.
  • Henry VII’s rule in England, 1485-1509.
  • Henry VIII’s foreign policy, 1485-1509.

The enquiry topic is: The Wars of the Roses

Assessment:  1½ hr exam, worth 25% of the total A-level.

Unit 2 – Non-British Period Study

A study of democracy and dictatorships in Germany 1919–1963.

 The key areas of study are:-

  • The establishment and development of the Weimar Republic: 1919–Jan 1933.
  • The establishment of the Nazi Dictatorship and  its domestic policies Feb 1933–1939.
  • The impact of war and defeat on Germany: 1939–1949.
  • Divided Germany: The Federal Republic and the DDR 1949–1963.

Assessment:  1 hour exam, worth 15% of the total A-level grade.

                Unit 3 – Thematic Study and Historical Interpretations

A study of Tudor Foreign Policy from 1485-1603.

The key topics are:-

  • The aims and methods of Tudor foreign policy.
  • Scotland and France.
  • Burgundy, the Netherlands and Spain.
  • The impact of foreign relations on domestic developments in England.

In addition, students study the following topics in depth:-

  • Henry VIII’s foreign policy, 1509-1520.
  • The loss of Calais.
  • The Armada.

Assessment:  2½ hr exam worth 40% of the total A-level.

                Unit 4 – Topic-Based Essay

Students complete a 3,000-4,000 word essay on a topic they choose in consultation with their teacher, it is internally assessed.  This is worth 20% of the total A-level.

Employers value History as they want people who are: independent thinkers, open-minded, disciplined, analytical, good at problem solving and able to pick out the essential from the trivial.


Antiques Restorer Foreign Office/Civil Servant Librarian
Archaeologist Genealogist Museum Curator
Archivist Architect Heritage Worker Historic National Trust Historian
Armed Forces Horticulture & Nature Conservation Politician
Art Historian Inspector of Historic Buildings Records Office & Archivist
Charity Worker Journalist Security Service (MI5)
Environment Valuer Lawyer Teacher
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