A Level Course Listing


Are you intrigued by what humans have done with their time on Earth? Do you feel curious to understand better the relationship between the present and the past? Are you keen to know more about other periods, places and peoples? If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then History is the subject for you.

Our aim is to provide an enjoyable and successful learning experience, in a friendly but challenging environment. Above all, we want you to realise your full potential in History, regardless of academic ability. You do not need to have studied History at GCSE; certain qualities, however, are advantageous. Those who gain most from A Level History are enthusiastic, inquisitive and conscientious – eager to learn, contribute and achieve. The subject is exceptionally popular at the College, currently involving about 90 students across the Sixth Form.

History is varied, dramatic and colourful; after all, it is about people. In our A Level curriculum you will find out about a mixture of eras, from the 15th century to the 20th century, and a variety of fascinating countries – Britain, Spain and the USA. You will also examine a wide range of compelling themes, including, nationalism, war, ethnicity, political protest and civil rights.

Lessons typically centre on discussion of research or written work, completed in advance. Lively debate often results, in which every student is asked to participate. You will be expected to read widely and to take an interest in current affairs related to our topics (we frequently explore present-day parallels with the past). You will develop valuable analytical skills: for example, how to interpret different types of evidence and evaluate opposing opinions.  You will also evolve your writing skills, enhancing your ability to explain arguments and communicate judgements.

The department has an excellent Library, specially dedicated to Sixth Form History; you will be encouraged to borrow books and magazines to pursue individual interests in (and beyond) your A Level studies.

We hold Film Nights outside lessons, intended to bring students together in groups different from their regular teaching sets, and also to promote awareness and discussion of cinema’s role in influencing popular interpretation of the past. We provide extra revision classes prior to public examinations, in which the department has a long track record of results far above the national average. Traditionally, many of our students decide to read History at university.

History combines well with many other A Levels. Clearly, it complements those subjects, such as English Literature, which also require significant reading and essay-writing. Numerous students, however, study History alongside Mathematics or the Sciences, with much success. In short, an interest in the past is the only essential requirement for choosing A Level History.

Where can it lead?

History is recognised as ideal preparation for a large number of professions, as well as allowing you to keep your options open. Historians can be found in most lines of work, especially in posts requiring qualities of leadership, problem-solving and decision-making. Many students of History go on to careers in the city (Business, Banking, Insurance, Accounting). Other popular choices include the Civil Service, Politics, Law, Journalism, Publishing, Advertising and Education. History is also directly relevant to careers in museums, archives, art galleries and Archaeology.

In sum, the good historian is very much in demand. This is because History not only fosters independence of mind, but intellectual discipline too. These are the highly transferable skills that A Level History will help you to develop. More generally, a passion for History implies curiosity about the world around you – an asset in any walk of life.

Course outline

Examination board: OCR H505

Entry Requirements

At least a grade 6 at GCSE.

Unit 1

British study and enquiry (Y110)

British History: From Pitt to Peel, 1783—1853.

25% of A Level (examination at end of Upper Sixth).

Unit 2

Non-British study (Y216)

History of the USA: Expansion, slavery and the Civil War, c.1803—c.1890.

15% of A Level (examination at end of Upper Sixth).

Unit 3

Thematic study and interpretation (Y319)

History of the USA: Civil Rights in the USA, 1865—1992.

40% of A Level (examination at end of Upper Sixth).

Unit 4

Topic essay (Y100)

History of the Spanish overseas empire, c.1492—c.1580: Fall of the Aztecs.

20% of A Level (coursework in Upper Sixth).