GCSE History

GCSE History

We believe in the importance of learning from history. That’s why we’ve created a programme of learning at GCSE that enables students to study different aspects of the past, so they can engage with key issues such as conflict, understand what drives change and how the past influences the present.

Entry Requirements
It is useful to have studied history before but this is not an essential requirement. To be successful at GCSE History, students need to have a passion for historical periods, people and events; to be curious and enjoy reading and writing extended essays.

Course Content

We follow the AQA linear specification. Linear means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course. GCSE History students must take assessments in both of the following papers in the same series:

First year: Paper 1: Understanding the Modern World

Section A: 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 poverty, 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 in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Section B: Wider World Depth Studies: Conflict and Tension 1918-1939

This Conflict and Tension Wider World Depth Study 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. Students will study the complex interests of different states, the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Second year: Paper 2: Shaping the Nation

Section A: Britain: Health and the People c1000 to present day 

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of how medicine and public health developed in Britain over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of short and long term developments, their impact on British society and how they were related to the key features and characterisitics of the periods during which they took place. Although the focus of this study is the development of medicine and public health in Britain, it will draw on wider world developments that impacted on the core themes. Students will have the opportunity to see how some ideas and events in the wider world affected Britain and will promote the idea that key themes did not develop in isolation, but these ideas and events should be referenced in terms of their effects on the core theme for Britain and British people.

This option focuses on the following questions: Why has there been progress in the health of the British people? How and why has the pace and scale of medical development varied at different times? What impact has medical progress had on people and society? How and why have different factors been more important than others for individual medical developments? What is the significance of key individuals or events in the history of medical development?

Section B: British Depth Studies including the historic environment:

Elizabethan England c1568-1603: This option allows students to study in depth a specified period, the last 35 years of Elizabeth I’s reign. The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth 1’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints, and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

The Historic Environment of Elizabethan England: Students will be examined on a specific site in depth. This site will be as specified and will be changed annually. The site will relate to the content of the rest of this depth study. It is intended that study of different historic environments will enrich students’ understanding of Elizabethan England.



Paper 1: Understanding the Modern World: A written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes. Section A: 6 compulsory questions & Section B: 4 compulsory questions (50% of the GCSE)

Paper 2: Shaping the Nation: A written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes. Section A: 4 compulsory questions & Section B: 4 compulsory questions (50% of the GCSE)

Where does it lead?

Progression to A-level study; subjects that complement A-level History include: English Literature, English Language, Philosophy & Ethics, Government & Politics, Law and Economics.

History teaches you a range of skills that are valued in the workplace and many History students work in Law, Politics, Journalism, Teaching, Social Research and Economics to name but a few.

Reading List

Wider reading / films

Schindler’s List; The Great Gatsby; Hitler: Rise to Evil; Passchendaele; War Horse; The Pianist and Elizabeth