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History A Level at Birkenhead Sixth Form College

Course description

How did Communism emerge as one of the most significant ideologies of the twentieth century?

How did Communist rule affect ordinary people such as workers and peasants in the Soviet Union & China?

Why did the Soviet Union collapse in 1991?

How did ordinary people, including women, gain democratic rights in Britain between 1780 and 1928? 


Is History for you?
  • You enjoy learning about the past, including how people have lived their lives and the causes and effects of social and political, cultural and economic events and developments.
  • You want to understand why the world is as it is and gain a better appreciation of your place in it.
  • You want to develop skills to look beyond the headlines, to ask questions properly and to express your own opinions.
  • You want to learn to absorb, analyse and assess a wide variety of information and viewpoints.
  • You enjoy writing essays and reading widely.
  • You are interested in current affairs.

Course content

AS Year

Russia, 1917-91:
from Lenin to Yeltsin


This unit covers: Communist government in the USSR, 1917-85 (Lenin; the one-party state; Stalin; the purges; Khrushchev; de-Stalinisation.) Industrial and agricultural change, 1917-85 (Command economy; the 5-year plans; collectivisation; Virgin Lands Scheme.) Control of the people, 1917-85 (Media; propaganda; cult of personality; dissidents; cultural change.) Social developments, 1917-85 (Housing; women and the family; education; youth; literacy.)


Mao’s China, 1949-75


This unit will look at: Establishing communist rule, 1949-57 (Civil War, the communist party; the Hundred Flowers campaign; Korean War.) Agriculture and industry, 1949-65 (Attacks on
landlords; collectivisation; the Great Leap Forward; great famine.)
The Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, 1966-76 (Red Guards & Red Terror; the ‘four olds’; the Gang of Four)Social and cultural changes, 1949-76 (Foot binding; women’s lives; education; culture; religion.  



A2 Year

Protest, agitation & parliamentary reform in Britain, c. 1780-1928

This is an exciting course which covers: Radical reformers, c.1790-1819 (Extra-parliamentary protest; Peterloo massacre;
Thomas Paine; Henry Hunt.) Chartism, c.1838-c.1850(The National Convention; the petitions; the role of Feargus O’Connor.) Contagious Diseases Act & the Campaign for repeal, 1862-86 (venereal disease in the armed forces; prostitutes; Elizabeth Wolstenholme.) The Women’s Social & Political Union, 1903-14 (WSPU; Emily Davison; the Pankhursts; female suffrage.) Trade union militancy, 1917-1927 (James Maxton; Ernest Bevin; Triple Alliance; General Strike.


You will have the opportunity to carry out your own independently researched enquiry in the form of a 3,000-4,000 word essay. Students can base their coursework on one of the three taught
topics or an entirely new area of content.

Regular guidance will be provided to all students.


Entry requirements

You must have achieved at least 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including at least a grade C in English Language. You need not have studied History before, but if you have, a grade C or above is expected.


Assessment is through a combination of coursework (20%) and exam (80%). NB: Under the new, revised exam system, all exams for the full A-Level must be sat at the end of the two years. The modules from year one will be revised during autumn term of year two.

Future opportunities

History opens the door to a wide range of degrees, including progression into social science and humanities courses at university, such as History, English, Law and Economics. For some careers, especially Law and Journalism, History is a particularly useful subject. It provides a background to our cultural tradition and a better appreciation of the present. However it is by no means restricted to being useful for these courses alone. Indeed many leading universities also respect science students taking History as the analytical and writing skills gained from it are invaluable in any field. 

You will also gain many transferable skills which employers will value, including how to read critically and think independently, evaluate evidence, analyse complex situations, construct a logical and well-supported argument and communicate effectively.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Birkenhead Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 25 October 2016
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