Why study history?

History at A-level is as close as you could come to University study in school. It is a mature subject in which every pupil will be expected to read around the topics being taught. Understanding and appreciating History is incredibly valuable for us as citizens, but especially so if you are interested in studying a Humanities subject at University. Many of our finest lawyers, politicians, civil servants, strategists and consultants honed their talents as Historians in their A-levels. It is a subject which universities are delighted to see on UCAS applications, as studying History at A-level is a discipline which marks you out as being inquisitive, resilient and conscientious. Above all else, History is a subject which is being argued, debated and shaped around us constantly, and exploring this breeds our sense of curiosity and opens our minds to new ideas.

What will we study in History A Level?

We will study the OCR specification A curriculum – a traditional and challenging course. This is a linear course, involving three units assessed by exam and one piece of coursework. In year one we study English History, 1603-1660 – a period in which England saw a brutal civil war, the execution of a monarch many believed appointed by God, and arguably our only ever military dictator. We will also study Russia, 1894-1941. This period saw the autocratic Tsar overthrown to be replaced by Lenin and Stalin, and the establishment of the USSR. In the second year, we study China, 1839-1989. China was transformed multiple times in this period that saw all-powerful emperors, wars fought over the use of illegal drugs, martial arts experts who believed they were impervious to bullets, a campaign to wipe out all sparrows, and much more. In year 2 we will also return to the English Civil Wars for the coursework unit, in which students will use the work of real historians, as well as primary sources, to form their own interpretation. This aspect of the course gives students experience of university-level study.

How is our learning assessed?

There are three exams, and one 4000 word essay. All units are assessed at the end of the second year. Two of the exams last one and a half hours, one lasts two and a half hours. The exams cover three main skill areas: analytical and evaluative essay writing; the evaluation and application of primary sources; the evaluation and application of secondary interpretations.

Which subjects compliments a study of history?

History can complemented by many subjects. Other essay based subjects such as English literature work very well with History. Humanities subjects such as Geography or RS are popular combinations; Government and Politics ties in particularly well with the History course. Economics would also be recommended, as it enables pupils to interpret world events differently. Languages, like French or Spanish are useful for the study of History beyond sixth form. However, there are no particularly desirable subject combinations when applying to study History at university, and all academic A-Levels are considered good preparation for History courses.

What could I do next?

Popular university study routes following History at A-level include Law, English, Politics, Philosophy, PPE, languages, and any of the social science such as Sociology and Psychology. History is an enabling subject and can take you many different directions. Historians learn to take on board large quantities of information, assess it critically, and use it to form arguments. These are skills required in fields such as law, business, politics and the civil service, journalism, consulting, and many more.

Which skills will I be developing?

The exams cover three main skill areas: analytical and evaluative essay writing; the evaluation and application of primary sources; the evaluation and application of secondary interpretations. As a historian, you will develop further your skills as an essay writer, a critical thinker, your analytical approach to different sources and – crucially – your ability to construct an argument.

What are the entry requirements?

It is recommended that KSA A-level historians secure a B at GCSE History as a minimum. High levels of literacy, and high performance in GCSE English, is also recommended.