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a level history coursework help

I am doing russia as my a level history coursework NEA and i need help on how to strucuture my answer, what type of interpretations and sources to do.
Any sort of help will be useful! Thank you so much !!!!!! i hope we can help each other out if anyone else is struggling with their NEA :biggrin:
(edited 1 year ago)
hi! I'm also doing Russia for my coursework! I'm doing AQA, so it might be different to what you need to do, make sure to check your spec. For primary sources I've found one propaganda poster (if you google some keywords + propaganda it'll come up), a text published in a book written at the time, and I've got a couple of ideas from my last source so I'm not sure which I'm going to write yet.

I try and outline what the primary source is saying, it's provenance, and then link it to the question, or rather the point its in (how does it link to X, what insight does it provide? Is it overall useful or valuable when looking at said point?)

In terms of overall structure, I'm doing a 100 year period, considering 3 points. So for each point, I try to cover all the 100 years roughly, however if I don't cover a period in one of my points, I try to make sure it's atleast mentioned and then try and include it with more focus it in one of my other points. If I find a primary source in one of the weaker time periods, then that's a bonus too. Anyway, after each point, make a mini judgment linking back to the question, and then of course a final conclusion considering all 3 points at the end.
Reply 2
Original post by ab.xo
I am doing russia as my a level history coursework NEA and i need help on how to strucuture my answer, what type of interpretations and sources to do.
Any sort of help will be useful! Thank you so much !!!!!! i hope we can help each other out if anyone else is struggling with their NEA :biggrin:


Hiii!! :smile:

Russia is generally a well established topic for the NEA since lots of people choose to do theirs on Russian history.

I’ll start with what to look for in your sources because they’re generally easier to find. I’d recommend 3 written sources, no more and no less. Written sources genuinely score higher marks in the NEA than picture sources as although picture sources are also valid sources, there are always different interpretations with them and analysing them can be obscure. If your examiner has a different opinion on what the picture source represents than you, that’s not good. However with a written source, the words are there and can’t be messed with: you’re just analysing what’s clearly there. If you feel very strongly about a picture source however, by all means, you can still go for it, just be wary with the subjectivity of it all, which is why I’d usually advise against it.

For the interpretations, I’d say just go with two that historians with opposing opinions who you can constantly quote and punctuate your NEA with. For example, a key example in your NEA with Russia is interpretations on the October revolution, known as historiography. Historiographically, totalitarianism and totalitarianist historians will interpret the Russian revolution as a coup d’état, meaning it was essentially a state takeover by a small militant group, and that it was not necessarily popular. Revisionist historians, writing later, around the 1960s and 1970s, will interpret it as a popular revolution - highlighting that, actually, the Russian revolution had elements to prove that it was wanted by almost everyone in contemporary society. A great revisionist historian to look at on this topic is Sheila Fitzpatrick. Then, you just need to be able to explain why the two historians whose interpretations you choose have different opinions. For the above example, totalitarianist historians were writing around the 1940s, when there was limited source material on the Soviet Union, and they relied mostly on hearsay. Revisionist historians, writing around 20 to 30 years later, had access to much more material to look at the whole of society, and the people, instead of just the higher up people in Russian society. I’d definitely do a lot of research into this as it will likely help a lot with your topic.

Another example with the interpretations, so that you can grasp a better understanding of what they’re looking for, is with my NEA, on witch trials. Two of my factors underpinning the witch trials are misogyny, and religion (the other one I’m researching being political change, and maybe war in the future). I could find a religious historian, who says that religion was not the main factor which cause the witch trials, and find an atheist historian who says that it was. I can easily explain why they have opposing opinions: the religious one thinks that religion wasn’t the problem, the non-religious one thinks that it was. For misogyny as the main factor underpinning the witch trials, I could find a male historian who denies that it was, and a female historian who believes that it was. Being able to analyse your interpretations and why the historians have differing/opposing opinions can help a lot.

I’m not necessarily so sure on the structure yet, as our teacher hasn’t gone through that with us yet, but I hope this helps, and good luck! <3
Reply 3
Original post by al3xjni
Hiii!! :smile:

Russia is generally a well established topic for the NEA since lots of people choose to do theirs on Russian history.

I’ll start with what to look for in your sources because they’re generally easier to find. I’d recommend 3 written sources, no more and no less. Written sources genuinely score higher marks in the NEA than picture sources as although picture sources are also valid sources, there are always different interpretations with them and analysing them can be obscure. If your examiner has a different opinion on what the picture source represents than you, that’s not good. However with a written source, the words are there and can’t be messed with: you’re just analysing what’s clearly there. If you feel very strongly about a picture source however, by all means, you can still go for it, just be wary with the subjectivity of it all, which is why I’d usually advise against it.

For the interpretations, I’d say just go with two that historians with opposing opinions who you can constantly quote and punctuate your NEA with. For example, a key example in your NEA with Russia is interpretations on the October revolution, known as historiography. Historiographically, totalitarianism and totalitarianist historians will interpret the Russian revolution as a coup d’état, meaning it was essentially a state takeover by a small militant group, and that it was not necessarily popular. Revisionist historians, writing later, around the 1960s and 1970s, will interpret it as a popular revolution - highlighting that, actually, the Russian revolution had elements to prove that it was wanted by almost everyone in contemporary society. A great revisionist historian to look at on this topic is Sheila Fitzpatrick. Then, you just need to be able to explain why the two historians whose interpretations you choose have different opinions. For the above example, totalitarianist historians were writing around the 1940s, when there was limited source material on the Soviet Union, and they relied mostly on hearsay. Revisionist historians, writing around 20 to 30 years later, had access to much more material to look at the whole of society, and the people, instead of just the higher up people in Russian society. I’d definitely do a lot of research into this as it will likely help a lot with your topic.

Another example with the interpretations, so that you can grasp a better understanding of what they’re looking for, is with my NEA, on witch trials. Two of my factors underpinning the witch trials are misogyny, and religion (the other one I’m researching being political change, and maybe war in the future). I could find a religious historian, who says that religion was not the main factor which cause the witch trials, and find an atheist historian who says that it was. I can easily explain why they have opposing opinions: the religious one thinks that religion wasn’t the problem, the non-religious one thinks that it was. For misogyny as the main factor underpinning the witch trials, I could find a male historian who denies that it was, and a female historian who believes that it was. Being able to analyse your interpretations and why the historians have differing/opposing opinions can help a lot.

I’m not necessarily so sure on the structure yet, as our teacher hasn’t gone through that with us yet, but I hope this helps, and good luck! <3


(Oh and also, for your sources, Alexandra Kollontai is an amazing female Bolshevik whose writings you could use, especially to get some female representation in there, since women generally don’t get enough representation in history, and also didn’t get enough representation in the Bolshevik party, as Kollontai writes herself. I think using her as a source would definitely get you some good marks, especially if you decided to touch upon the role of women, which is quite important in the February revolution. She was basically a prominent Bolshevik feminist who was active during WW1 and the revolutions, and she did some really admirable work for women in contemporary Russian politics!)
(edited 10 months ago)

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