History encourages students to develop a wide variety of skills, literacy being central. Students read and interpret material from a wide range of texts and they are encouraged to communicate their ideas by writing clearly and precisely. Requiring the students to present the findings of their research in imaginative and varied formats develops oral skills. Of course, debate and discussion are central to the historical process. Numeracy should form an important part of any History student’s course. They will encounter graphs and other statistical material and will be expected to deal with them accurately and with increasing sophistication. Opportunities are available in the subject for students to develop their IT skills. All students are encouraged to use word processing and other appropriate software to communicate some of their findings; to explore the World Wide Web in order to obtain, select and then deploy relevant information, and to be able to make use of a range of information, technological or otherwise, to enhance their historical studies.

Beyond the acquisition of skills, History has a role to play in the appreciation of different cultures. By means of role-play and drama, the student attempts to understand and to identify with the feelings and experiences of individuals from a different time and a different background to ours. Gradually the student learns the significance of change over time and of those things that have changed and those that have stayed the same.

History is a fascinating subject. In many cultures the study of it is very controversial indeed and in our own society it can still generate much emotion. It is, perhaps, the only subject that deals exclusively with human beings as its subject. As a result there are those who wish to use it as a vehicle to carry their own particular concerns. Historians seek to understand and explain the past. By doing so history students are encouraged to think logically and objectively and to use factual information as evidence to sustain their arguments. Our Department is happy to contribute to this process in the knowledge that we are contributing to a spirit of enlightened ‘ scepticism ‘.

GCSE in History

The emphasis of the specifications is not just to learn history but to learn from history. The specification enables students to study different aspects of the past, so they can engage with key issues such as conflict and understand what drives change and how the past influences the present. AQA has worked with teachers and subject experts to include some exciting topics for today’s world that will resonate with students, helping them gain new insights into the world around them. Building on the skills and topics at Key Stage 3, our GCSE will equip students with essential skills and prepare them for further study. You can find out about all AQA History qualifications at aqa.org.uk/history.

The aim is to provide both a clearer understanding of the present from a detailed study of the past and a firm grounding in the skills of objective investigation, analysis and argument, both written and oral. A range of up-to-date texts is available, and the department is well stocked with DVDs, which are used when appropriate. Skills gained can be carried forward to A Level, or hold good as they are. In either event, History is an excellent subject for developing a trained, well-disciplined mind and for nurturing and sustaining an interest in the past.

Key features are:

  • No controlled assessment/coursework
  • All exams are linear, sat at the end of the course.
  • Grading system of 1–9.

Compulsory elements are:

  1. A thematic study over time – requiring students to understand change and continuity over a long period of time.
  2. A period study of at least 50 years – where students are required to understand an unfolding narrative of developments and issues associated with the period.
  3. One British depth study to include a study of the historical environment – which looks at the relationship between a place and historical events or developments.
  4. One European/wider world depth study.

The syllabus is in three parts as follows:

Paper 1 Written Paper 2 hours – 50% of total marks

Section A: Period study

  • America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality

This period study focuses on the development of the USA during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of opportunity and inequality – when some Americans lived the ‘American Dream’ whilst others grappled with the nightmare of discrimination and prejudice. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups and the impact the developments had on them.

Section B: Wider world depth studies

One of the following options will be studied:

  • Conflict and tension, 1894–1918

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of nations and states. It focuses on the causes, nature and conclusion of the First World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred, and why it proved difficult to bring the war to a conclusion. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

  • Conflict and tension, 1918–1939

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different individuals and states. It focuses on the causes of the Second World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the issues which caused it. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Paper 2 Written Paper 2 hours – 50% of total marks

Section A: Thematic studies

  • Britain: Power and the people

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of the development of the relationship between the citizen and the state in Britain over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of protest to that relationship. By charting the journey from feudalism and serfdom to democracy and equality, it reveals how, in different periods, the state responds to challenges to its authority and their consequences. It allows students to construct an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the citizen.

Section B: British depth studies including the historic environment

  • Norman England, 1066–c1100

This option allows students to study in depth a specific historical period – the arrival of the Normans and the establishment of their rule. The depth study will address the political, military, religious, economic, social, and cultural aspects of this period and arising controversies. Key areas of study are:

  • The Normans – Conquest and control
  • Life under the Normans
  • The Norman Church and Monasticism
  • The historic environment of Norman England including the examination of a specific site in depth.