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History A Level (Block A) at St John's Catholic Comprehensive School

Course description

It would be great to know what could happen before we make an important decision wouldn’t it? Well, studying history can help us do this on a big scale.

By analysing past events we learn about the consequences of people’s actions, from kings and queens to the London baker who forgot to put his fire out on September 2nd 1666. If we apply this knowledge to the present, governments, businesses and individuals can learn lessons from past mistakes or successes and make informed choices about their futures.

In history we study lots of different sources and learn that events are often the result of complex and multiple factors. It’s never as simple as person A whacking person B over the head and starting a war. Politics, communication, beliefs, misunderstandings and even the environment can shape the way things turn out.

At St John’s you will study such diverse topics as the Reformation in England, Luther and the German Reformation and the Civil Rights and Race Relations in the USA; you will also have the opportunity of a personal study of your choice.

Course content

Y12 = AS History, Units 1 and 2.

Y12 & Y13 = A Level History, Units 1 to 4.

Unit 1 - Paper 1B: England, 1509–1603: authority, nation and religion

  •  Monarchy and government, 1509–88
  •  The Tudor monarchs 
  •  The changing role of parliament 
  •  The principal servants of the crown 
  • Religious changes, 1509–88
  • Tudor monarchs and religious change
  • Catholicism and its survival
  • Protestantism and puritanism
  • State control and popular resistance, 1509–88
  • Tudor control of the country
  • The state and the poor
  • Resistance to Tudor rule
  • Economic, social and cultural change, 1509–88
  • Patterns of domestic and foreign trade
  • The changing structure of society
  • Cultural change
  • Was there a general crisis of government in the last years of Elizabeth I’s reign, 1589–1603?
  • The significance of threats to national security from Spain and Ireland. 
  • The extent of faction at court and the succession issue.
  • The importance of growing conflicts with parliament and the session of 1601.
  •  The importance of harvest failures in the 1590s and the growth of social distress.


Unit 2 – Paper 2B.1: Luther and the German Reformation, c1515–55

  • Conditions in early sixteenth century Germany
  • The Holy Roman Empire
  • The state of the German economy
  • The German Catholic Church
  • The papacy and Germany
  • Luther’s early challenge to the Catholic Church, 1517–20
  • Luther’s early life and influences on him
  • The Ninety-Five Theses 1517
  • The shaping of Luther’s beliefs
  •  Luther’s excommunication 1520
  • The development of Lutheranism, 1521–46
  • The Diet of Worms and its aftermath
  • Luther’s attitude to religious and political radicalism
  • Lutheran beliefs and their influence
  • Luther’s declining influence, 1530–46
  • The spread and survival of Lutheranism, 1521–55
  • The failure of Lutheran-Catholic negotiations
  • The role of the German princes
  • Charles V and Lutheranism
  • The papacy and Lutheranism


Unit 3 – Paper 3.3 Civil Rights and Race Relations in the USA, C1850-2009.

  • The changing geography of civil rights issues
  • The changing geographical distribution of black Americans, 1850–2009
  • The changing pattern of settlement and segregation 1850– 2009
  • Changing portrayal of civil rights issues in fiction and film
  • The role of literature in shaping and reflecting changing perceptions of race relations, 1850–2009
  • The role of visual portrayals in influencing and reflecting changing perceptions of race, 1850–2009
  • ‘Free at last’, 1865–77
  • Reasons for, and importance of, the Thirteenth Amendment 1865
  • Radical Reconstruction, 1867–77
  • The backlash
  • The triumph of ‘Jim Crow’, 1883–c1900
  • Impact of the Civil Rights Cases 1883 in the Supreme Court
  • The spread of Jim Crow Laws
  • The impact of Plessy v. Ferguson 1896
  • The New Deal and race relations, 1933–41
  • The influence of southern whites in the Democrat Party.
  • The failure to address black grievances
  • Impact of the New Deal
  • ‘I have a dream’, 1954–68
  • Civil rights activities, 1954–63
  • The importance of the Civil Rights Acts 1964 and 1968, the Voting Rights Act 1965 and the role of Lyndon Johnson.
  • The importance of the Civil Rights Acts 1964 and 1968, the Voting Rights Act 1965 and the role of Lyndon Johnson.
  • Obama's campaign for the presidency, 2004–09
  • The importance of the political career of Barack Obama to 2006, including his election as senator for Illinois in 2004
  • The reasons for his success in gaining the Democratic nomination for the presidency
  • The reasons for victory in November 2008



Your opportunity to undertake a personal study of your choice.


Entry requirements

A minimum of 5 subjects at A* to B (Grade 5 or higher), including a Grade 6 in GCSE English or Humanities subject


Unit 1 - Paper 1B: England, 1509–1603: authority, nation and religion

2 hours and 15 minutes written examination. Sat in the summer of Year 12 for AS and Year 13 for A Level.

60% of AS grade, 30% of A Level grade.

Unit 2 – Paper 2B.1: Luther and the German Reformation, c1515–55

1 hour and 30 minutes written examination. Sat in the summer of Year 12 for AS and Year 13 for A Level.

40% of AS grade, 20% of A Level grade.



Unit 3 – Paper 3.3 Civil Rights and Race Relations in the USA, C1850-2009.

2 hours and 15 minutes written examination. Sat in the summer of Year 13 for A Level.

 30% of A Level grade.



Coursework unit which is completed by May of Y13.

 20% of A Level grade.


Financial information

Enrichment Opportunities Information:

Extracurricular activities are a feature of Departmental activities and all students are encouraged to partake. There are strong links with Veterans and the Normandy Veterans’ Association in addition to the TownCentric and local historians. There are regular visits by Veterans and others to the school who assist with talks, Remembrance Assemblies, the Holocaust and similar.
Study Tours are integral to the work with extended tours to Berlin and Krakow [every two years in October] and Normandy [every two years in April]. We are also stablishing a three day tour to the World War 1 Battlefields. Other areas visited in the past include Arnhem and Prague. There are plans for study tours to Rome-Anzio and to Istanbul-Gallipoli. Day tours include Ypres and the Somme [in conjunction with the English and RE Departments] and there are occasional day tours to Battle of Britain sites in Kent, Duxford, Imperial War Museum, London, War and Peace Show and the rocket sites in the Pas-de-Calais area, Paris and Dieppe. Several of these tours have been made in conjunction with Veterans adding a whole new dimension to the understanding of events. The Department is establishing links with schools abroad and enjoyed a group visit from Lorentz Lyceum, Arnhem and St Lucas, Cambrai which schools were subsequently visited by us!
The History Society is vibrant and has published many books.  The present project is focusing on the fallen of WW1 and those named on local memorials. The activities of the Society are numerous and include publishing a paperback book of Veteran memoirs every year, organising History Day at the school [an all-day activity focusing on an aspect of History with re-enactors on site], Remembrance Day assemblies and collection at the school, Holocaust activities, ‘Black’ History day in October, exhibitions in school, locally and in Normandy.
The Society intends building its own website which is added to on a weekly basis – this details the many aspects of the Society and its work.
Society members have given talks in schools, museums, libraries and to such diverse groups as Veterans, Council Officials, historians and students. Members are invited to attend various ceremonies at Whitehall, Royal Engineers in Brompton and Maidstone and there have been one off visits to Sandhurst, Chelsea Hospital and St Dunstans’ and to such events as Trooping the Colours and the unveiling of the Inchukuk at the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy.
There are strong links in the community, most notably the Normandy Veterans’ Association, the Royal British Legion, various re-enacting groups, the Royal Engineers and local Sikh groups. There is a strong emphasis on forging links across the generations and in community involvement. We also work in conjunction with such groups as burning2learn to assist Society members in their work with Business & Enterprise and the gaining of qualifications in this area of education.

Future opportunities

Studying history is inspiring. When we discover what people have achieved against the odds and how things can change over time, it can give us the motivation we need to succeed. People who study history are fearless explorers of the past. They investigate past politics, societies, cultures, languages, health, art, education, money, conflicts and more, look at how things have developed over time and connect the dots to understand how we got where we are today. It might be about the past, but there are plenty of careers in history that you can pursue today. Why study history? Because it's great news for your future!

The skills developed in the study of History are essential to successful study in any subject in Higher Education and in a variety of careers in industry, journalism, television, law, education, the civil service, archaeology, local government and politics, nursing and accountancy among others. Thus there is access to a wide range of career and further education opportunities.

Further information

To find out more about this qualification, contact  Head of History or ask your CXK Personal Adviser or school/college careers staff.


How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St John's Catholic Comprehensive School directly.

Last updated date: 15 November 2017
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