A level Specification
OCR Specification – A two year course, all exams at the end of Year 13
‘History is the torch that is meant to illuminate the past, to guard us against the repetition of our mistakes of other days. We cannot join in the rewriting of history to make it conform to our comfort and convenience.’
Claude Bowers (1878 - 1958)
We have selected a diverse range of topics for our students, taking in a variety of countries and peoples and developing skills that will be key at university, regardless of degree subject. Skills such as critical thinking, argument construction and evidence evaluation combine with a developed understand of how the past shapes the present and the future to make this an exciting and stimulating course. The course clearly prepares students for a History degree but previous students have also gone on to study Law, Journalism, Economics, Philosophy and Medicine, where the balance of an essay based subject has helped with their UCAS application. Historical study develops vital employment skills including communication (written and verbal), decision making and investigative research.
GCSE History students will obviously have an advantage when studying A Level History but we have successfully worked with students who did not take History at Key Stage 4, so all students are welcome to choose the subject. No formal grade at GCSE History is required.
Extra-curricular activities form a key part of the course – a battlefield trip to Waterloo and the Somme, a day at Battle Abbey and various museum and lecture visits have all enhanced the students’ learning. There is also a chance to visit Washington DC with the Politics group to enhance their education generally and specifically focus on aspects of the American Civil War that will be covered in Year 13.
Reciting the Gettysburg Address
Visiting the White House
Year 12 – British Period Study and Enquiry – Unit Y105 –
England 1445-1509: Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry VII
This unit focuses on a period of British history and has two components. It provides a chance to delve into the crossover point from medieval history to the early modern world and covers a fascinating period of intrigue, civil war and betrayal. The main part of the course looks at the battle between the two royal houses to gain control of the throne in the 15th Century. Characters such as Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Richard III bestride the period. The Wars of the Roses is the enquiry topic and will be assessed through the analysis and evaluation of primary source material. Assessment is at the end of Y13 – the period study assessment will be a knowledge based essay and the enquiry consists of the analysis of 4 primary sources. The exam will be 1 hour 30 minutes long. There will be a mock exam at the end of Year 12.
Year 12 – Non- British Period Study – Unit Y212 – The American Revolution 1740-1796
This unit sees us move our focus overseas, to the tumultuous time of the American Revolution. It provides a nice counterpoint to the British study outlined above. It traces the origins of upheaval in the ‘New World’ and the final break from European control. Assessment in this unit also takes place at the end of Y13 and consists of two essays to be written in 1 hour. There will be a mock exam at the end of Year 12.
Year 13 – Thematic study and historical interpretations – Unit Y315 – The Changing Nature of Warfare 1792-1945
This unit looks at all facets of warfare over a 150 year period, from the Napoleonic Wars through to World War II. Factors such as communications, technological advancement, training, geography and tactics are all examined as are the influence of generals and the soldiers themselves. There are two elements to assessment – an analysis of historians’ interpretations of warfare in the period and two essay questions to answer. The exam lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes and is taken at the end of Year 13.
Year 13 – Topic Based Essay – Unit Y100
This unit consists of an independent dissertation, 3000-4000 words in length. This will be a taught course by your History tutor and we have some flexibility on the subject content, which will be decided in due course. Our current subject matter is Mao’s China 1949-1976. Students will have freedom to choose their own essay question within the topic and then carry out an independent investigation, selecting evidence to help them produce their final essay. This is an exciting new aspect of A Level History and will be both challenging and motivating for students in the second year of the course. The essay is marked and moderated internally and then sent to the board for assessment towards the end of Year 13. There is no final exam.
Students at Waterloo battlefield