Considering History GCSE or A Level? Read our FAQ here! Watch

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Are you considering taking History as a GCSE or A level option? Read below for more information to help educate your decision!

GCSE (9-1)
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What skills are required for GCSE History?
At GCSE History, having Basic English is essential because, throughout the course, you will be expected to do the following: reading, analysing sources, role play, testing hypotheses, discussion, watching documentaries, extended writing and e-learning in relation to the period of History that you are studying.

What is the workload like?
The workload for GCSE History is similar to most other GCSEs. There is a plenty to learn about the period of History you are studying about, but do not despair. Although, many people think that History has a lot of content - and it certainly does - it is manageable throughout the course provided that you do regular recap on the period of History you are studying. For example, in your period study such as Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941-91 you could try making flashcards for the Cold War crises, 1958-70 and test yourself on key knowledge regarding the increased tensions between East and West. You could even make a mind map on this - there are various revision methods out there so do not be afraid to find one that suits you!

What sort of topics will be studied?
At GCSE History you can study from a wide range of topics from:
  • Health & Medicine in Britain c.1000-present (For example: Medicine in Modern Britain c.1900-present)
  • The Elizabethan 1558-1603 (For example: Life in Elizabethan Times)
  • American 1789-1900 (For example: America's Expansion 1789-c.1830)
  • Superpowers Relations and the Cold War 1941-1991 (For example: The Origins of the Cold War 1941-1958)
  • Germany 1890-1945 (For example: Hitler's Rise to Power 1929-1934)

However, the topics you will study will be dependent on what your school's History department has chosen and whilst all the specifications are similar, there may be slight variations to different specifications.


How will it be assessed?
AQA: 2 Papers (Each paper makes up 50% of GCSE)

Edexcel: 3 Papers (Paper 1 - 30% of GCSE, Paper 2 - 40% of GCSE, Paper 3 - 30% of GCSE)

OCR A: 3 Papers (Paper 1 - 50% of GCSE, Papers 2 & 3 combined makes up 50% of GCSE)

OCR B: 3 Papers (Paper 1 - 40% of GCSE, Paper 2 - 20% of GCSE, Paper 3 - 40% of GCSE)

WJEC (Wales Only): 3 Papers + NEA (Papers 1 & 2 combined make up 50% of GCSE, Paper 3 - 30% of GCSE, Non Exam Assessment - 20%)

Edquas (Except Wales): 2 Papers (Each paper makes up 50% of GCSE)

What is it useful for post-GCSE?
History is a fantastic subject for acquiring the following skills post-GCSE:
  • critical reasoning and analytical skills, including the capacity for solving problems and thinking creatively;
  • intellectual rigour and independence, including the ability to conduct detailed research;
  • ability to construct an argument and communicate findings in a clear and persuasive manner, both orally and in writing;
  • capability to work without direct supervision and manage time and priorities effectively;
  • ability to discuss ideas in groups, and to negotiate, question and summarise;
  • capacity to think objectively and approach problems and new situations with an open mind;
  • appreciation of the different factors that influence the activities of groups and individuals in society.

What subjects does it complement at A Levels?
History complements English Literature / Language, Economics, Politics, Sociology, Psychology and Geography.



A Levels (AS & A2)
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What skills are required for A Level History?
At A Level History, you will be building upon your existing knowledge gained at GCSE, giving you a sound understanding of historical principles. As a result, it is often required that you have a least Grade C/4 or higher in GCSE English Language (and if you studied GCSE History this will be the same). The course emphasis on historical knowledge and the skills required for historical research, with you gaining knowledge in cause and effect, continuity and change, similarity and differences and the uses of historical evidence as part of your study.

What is the workload like?
The workload for A Level History is similar to most other A Levels. There is a plenty to learn about the period of History you are studying about, but do not despair. Although, many people think that History has a lot of content - and it certainly does - it is manageable throughout the course provided that you do regular recap on the period of History you are studying. For example, if you're studying about Churchill's Views of Events,1929-40, you could try making flashcards for "What was Churchill's Views on India?" and test yourself on the key knowledge on that sub topic. You could even make a mind map on this - there are various revision methods out there so do not be afraid to find one that suits you!

What sort of topics will be studied?
At A Level History you can study from a wide range of topics from:
  • British Period Study + Enquiry (For example: Liberals, Conservatives and the Rise of Labour 1846-1902)
  • Non-British Period Study (For example: The Cold War in Asia 1945-1993)
  • Thematic Study and Historical Interpretations (For example: Tudor Foreign Policy 1485-1603)
  • Non-Exam Assessment

However, the topics you will study will be dependent on what your school's History department has chosen and whilst all the specifications are similar, there may be slight variations to different specifications.


How will it be assessed?
AQA
How will it be assessed?
:
AS - 2 Papers (Each worth 50% of AS)
A2 - 2 Papers (Each worth 40% of A2) + NEA 20%

Edexcel:
AS - 2 Papers (Paper 1: 60% of AS, Paper 2: 40% of AS)
A2 - 3 Papers (Paper 1: 30% of A2, Paper 2: 20% of A2, Paper 3: 30% of A2) + NEA 20%

OCR :
AS - 2 Papers (Each worth 50% of AS)
A2 - 3 Papers (Paper 1: 25% of A2, Paper 2: 15% of A2, Paper 3: 40% of A2) + NEA 20%

WJEC (Wales Only):
AS - 2 Papers (Each worth 20% of entire A Level)
A2 - 3 papers (Each worth 20% of entire A Level) + Papers from AS

What is it useful for post A Level?
A Level History can open up to a world of possibilities. As the A-level history course gives you skills in writing and literature skills as an English A-level would, but also provides you with contextual knowledge and research skills, universities and employers look incredibly favourably upon applicants with A-level history. Amongst the many courses where A-level history is required such as modern history, ancient history, archaeology, amongst others there are a number of courses where history at A-level is desirable such as law.

Possible career possibilities from having A-level history include being a teacher, museum curator, excavator, researchers, lawyer, various television roles, author and many more.


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