A-level History

A-level History

History isn’t a subject that is stuck in the past, far from it. Historical events are what have shaped society worldwide into what it is today.

Take the Magna Carta as a case in point. Signed in 1215, it was a charter which covered topics like taxes and citizen’s rights. But it didn’t exist in isolation. The Magna Carta wouldn’t have happened without the Norman conquest of 1066. And there is a direct line between the Magna Carta and the United States constitution which was signed in 1787. And of course the US Constitution is a role model for governance even today.

The A -level History course has been designed to help you understand the value and significance of world events in the past. In the process you’ll gain a deeper understanding of social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Knowing how people lived in the past helps to understand why people act like they do today.

In the first year, which counts as an AS-level, you’ll cover two themes which are fundamental to the whole subject of history. The first is a breadth study of significant historical developments and associated historical interpretations over an approximate 50 year period. The second is a depth study, which looks at significant periods of history and it really is all about change … how wars, catastrophes, laws, policies, actions or inventions changed the way people live.

In the second year there is a further breadth study along with another depth study. Students will also be required to write an extended essay of between 3,000 and 3,500 words on a topic of their own choice.

Entry Requirements

Whilst it is desirable to have a GCSE grade 5/6 or above in History, it is not essential. Successful students are those that have good literacy skills (GCSE grade 5/6 or above in English Language or Literature) or IELTS Level 6.5 and above. History at A-level requires close reading of a wide range of texts, source analysis and interpreting historical argument. To enjoy History at A-level, students must be prepared to ‘go back in time’, immerse themselves in the past and have an inquisitive mind!

Course Content

The specification we follow is the AQA syllabus. In accordance with College policy, ALL students will be entered for AS, regardless of whether they intend to follow the A-level course for the full two years.

Year 1 (AS level)
Breadth study: 1C The Tudors 1485-1547: The consolidation of the Tudor Dynasty: England 1485-1547 (Henry VII, 1485-1509 and Henry VIII 1509-1547).

Depth study: 20 Democracy and Nazism: Germany 1918-1945. This option provides for the study of a period of German history during which a newly developed democratic form of government gave way to a dictatorial Nazi regime. At AS, students will explore the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) The Establishment and early years of Weimar (1918-1924) The Golden Age of the Weimar Republic (1924-1928) and The Collapse of Democracy (1928-1933).

Year 2 (A-level) : Year 1 content and in addition:
Breadth study: 1C The Tudors: Turmoil and Triumph 1547-1603: Instability and consolidation: The Mid-Tudor Crisis 1547-1563 and The Triumph of Elizabeth 1563-1603. The key questions that will drive student learning across AS and A-level are: How effectively did the Tudors restore and develop the powers of the monarchy? In what ways and how effectively was England governed during this period? How did relations with foreign powers change and how was the succession secured? How did English society and economy change and with what effects? How far did intellectual and religious ideas change and develop and with what effects? How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

Depth Study: students will study Nazi Germany 1933-1945: The Nazi Dictatorship 1933-1939 (including Hitler’s consolidation of power, the Terror State and the Social Policies – young people, the workers, the churches and the drawbacks of Nazi rule), and The Racial State 1933-1941 (including Nazi racial ideology; policies towards the mentally ill, homosexuals, members of religious sects, the Roma and Sinti, anti-Semitism: policies and actions towards the Jews, including the boycott of Jewish shops and the Nuremberg Laws and the treatment of Jews in the early years of war: the Einsatzgruppen; ghettos and deportations), and The Impact of War 1939-1945 (including rationing, indoctrination, propaganda and morale; the changing impact of war on different sections of society including elites, workers, women and youth).

The Non-Examined Assessment Unit: Historical Enquiry/Investigation: Students are required to undertake a personal study based on a topic of student’s choice. This should take the form of a question in the context of approximately 100 years. It must not duplicate the content of the breadth or depth study. Typically, our students carry out their historical enquiry either on Black Inequality in the USA or Russia: The end of Tsariam.



Year 1: AS Level : Breadth Study 50% and Depth Study 50% of the overall mark

Year 2: A-level: Breadth Study 40%, Depth Study 40% and Historical Enquiry/Investigation 20% of the overall mark

Where does it lead?

A-level History is classed as a facilitating subject which means that it is commonly required or preferred by universities to get onto a range of degree courses. History will help you to keep your options open when choosing a degree. In terms of career path, the study of History involves so many useful disciplines and touches upon so many areas of life, that it can take you in many different directions such as teaching, law, journalism, national and local government, archaeology and working in museums and galleries, to name but a few.

Reading List

Reading List for AS / A-level (Non-academic)

The Tudors, A Very Short Introduction by John Guy; How to be a Tudor by Ruth Goodman; Winter King by Thomas Penn; Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years by John Guy; Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir