History at Small Heath School & Sixth Form Centre
History A Level
Our exam board is Edexcel and in year 12 we study Democracies in Change: Britain and the USA in the twentieth century.
5 GCSEs grade C or above including English
There are three exam papers and assessment is through essays based on source analysis and also essays which require the student to recall facts, causes and consequences, in order to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding, as well as developing and explaining an argument. Students also need to express their own opinion about the debates and controversies that are studied.
Paper 1: Option 1H, Britain transformed, 1918-1997. This option can be divided into four themes as described below:
Theme 1: A changing political and economic environment, 1918-79. Students will need to understand the changing political and economic situation in Britain in the years from the end of the First World War to the election of Margaret Thatcher. They should also be aware of broad changes in working conditions, the patterns of industrial relations over the period and reasons for periods of strife and greater cooperation.
Theme 2: Creating a welfare state, 1918-79. Students will need to understand the extent to which Britain developed a welfare state. They should understand the reasons for and the impact of changes experienced in Britain in the selected areas of social policy during the years 1918-79.
Theme 3: Society in transition, 1918-79. Students will need to understand the patterns of and reasons for the transformation of British society in regard to class, social values, gender and race in the years 1918-79. Students should understand the influence of the empire and its decline, on British attitudes towards racial minorites and on immigration. Students should understand the key trends and changing attitudes within society across the period and be able to assess the extent and nature of changes that occurred.
Theme 4: The changing quality of life, 1918-79. Students will need to understand the patterns of and reasons for the changing quality of life in Britain in the years 1918-79. They should understand the reasons for and nature of differences in the quality of life in Britain during the period. Students should be aware of the influence of state intervention and social welfare measures on living standards.
Debate: What impact did Margaret Thatcher's governments (1970-90) have on Britain, 1979-97? This topic focuses on the debate concerning the nature and effect of Margaret Thatcher's three terms as Prime Minister from 1979-90 and the consequences to 1997. Students will need to know the main features of Thatcher's monetarist economic policies and her aims to regulate the powers of the trade unions and reduce the role of the state in British politics, economic and society. They will also need to be aware of her conservative social values and belief in self-help and individualism. Students should be aware of the extent to which support for and opposition to her policies, polarised politics and society during the 1980s and the consequences for the Major governments to 1997. They should be aware of the effect of Thatcherism on the political climate and the consequences for all of the major political parties in Britain. Students should understand the extent of the debate as to whether Thatcher's policies benefited or damaged Britain.
Paper 2: Option 2H.2, the USA 1955-1992: Conformity and Challenge. This option is also split into four topics, both thematically and chronologically.
Topic 1: Affluence and conformity, 1955-63. The topic covers changes in America in the years 1955-63. Students need to understand the extent of the economic prosperity during these years and the impact this had on both social and cultural change. Students need to understand the impact of the Civil Rights movement on policies and society and the extent to which the status of African Americans changed in the stated period. Students need to be aware of the main features of the New Frontier's action to tackle poverty and the extent of Kennedy's success in this field by 1963.
Topic 2: Protest and reaction, 1963-72. The topic covers the dramatic changes which affected US society in the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination. Students should undertand the changing nature of the civil rights campaigns exemplified by the activities of King and Malcolm X. Students should understand the impact of the conflict with Vietnam reactions to them. Students should understand Johnson's ambitions for the Great Society and the extent to which his policies changed the lives of many Americans. They should be aware of the actions taken by Nixon to roll back some features of the Great Society. Students should understand that developments within the counter-culture from the time of the Democratic Convention in 1968 had an increasingly negative impact on the movement and influenced the rise of the 'silent majority'.
Topic 3: Social and political change, 1973-80. The topic covers the years 1973-80 when the USA faced a number of political and econmic challenges. Students should understand the impact of Watergate on both executive government and popular attitudes towards politics. They should be aware of the disillusion with the political process, especially amongst young people and the latter's growing interest in environmental concerns. Students should understand the domestic and foreign challenges to the US economy in these years, and the social impact of key economic developments. Students should understand the extent to which individual and civil rights were extended during this period.
Topic 4: Republican dominance and its opponents, 1981-92. The topic addresses the years of Republican power under Reagan and Bush and the growing social and cultural tensions which divided US society. Students should be aware of the politics of 'Reaganomics' and the extent to which Reagan's policies tackled the country's economic problems. Students should understand the significance of the Religious Right and the extent to which the clash between liberal and conservative attitudes divided the society and politics. They should be aware of the extent to which popular culture challenged conservative society by reflecting liberal attitudes.
Paper 3 and coursework. Students will also study a further module in year 13 and complete a coursework essay, focusing on analysis of sources and historical articles. As this is a new course, these topics are still to be decided.
History is a subject which develops skills of communication, research and analysis which can be put to use in a wide variety of careers. It is highly regarded as a qualification for entry into degree courses. History combines well with options in Languages, Business Studies, Economics, Geography, English, Law and Sociology.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Small Heath School & Sixth Form Centre directly.