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History A-Level at Burnham Grammar School

Course description

Anyone who enjoys studying the past and enjoys reading and writing will enjoy A level history. A keen interest in the subject will help you to get the most out of it. As history has elements of both the arts and the sciences, it can be studied with any other A level.

Although studying medieval and early modern history (16th and 17th centuries) may be new to many people, the current history sets can assure you that they are enjoying learning about these topics. Some people think that there is a lot of writing for A level history. There are certainly essays but none takes more than one hour in the exam. There are also document questions and a piece of coursework of between 3,000 and 4,000 words.

The topics will include the history of the Crusades and the Crusading States from 1095 to 1192, The English Civil War from the reign of James I to 1660, French history from 1498 to 1610 and coursework on a topic of your choice. This means that you broaden your knowledge and understanding of history and you get the chance to study 4 completely different societies.

You will learn or develop a number of very important skills when studying A level history. These include: the ability to argue logically and effectively so you can convince others of your point of view; the ability to empathise with others; the ability to detect bias and to look at a problem objectively; and the ability to select information quickly from a body of material.

In A level history classes you will often find yourselves discussing problems in a small group or with the whole class. There are also presentations and role plays, peer assessment, games, DVDs. You will be expected to work independently and to read round the subject.

There are opportunities to go to lectures in London given by eminent historians, perhaps the authors of books you use in school.

Course content

The exams will assess your ability to write judgemental essays which reach a clear and supported conclusion, your ability to evaluate source material and to place it in the context of your wider knowledge of the period, your ability to analyse change and continuity across a period of at least a hundred years, detecting patterns in that period and reaching a substantiated judgement in terms of the question, and your ability to evaluate different historians‟ interpretations of an historical question or problem. The coursework will assess your independent learning: your ability to investigate a topic, to evaluate the ideas and material you research for it and to write 3-4,000 words of analysis, explanation, evaluation and judgement on the topic.

Entry requirements

You must achieve at least 368 GCSE capped points (i.e. your best 8 subjects) for entry to the Sixth form. You must also achieve a C grade in English Language GCSE and Mathematics GCSE alongside meeting the entry criteria for each individual subject. Option 4 is conditional upon achieving 400+ GCSE capped points. 

GCSE points: A*= 58, A= 52, B= 46, C= 40, D= 34

Subject Specific

B in GCSE History. If History not studied, a B in English Literature is necessary. Students with History GCSE will be admitted on to the course before those without History GCSE.


  • Unit 1 British period study and enquiry: 25% of A level The early Stuarts and the origins of the Civil War, 1603-1660 (Enquiry topic: The execution of Charles I and the Interregnum, 1646-1660) Exam 1 ½ hours 
  • Unit 2 Non-British period study: 15% The Crusades and the Crusader States, 1095-1192 Exam 1 hour 
  • Unit 3 Thematic study and historical interpretations: 40% The development of the Nation State, France 1498-1610 Exam 2 ½ hours 
  • Unit 4 Topic based essay – 3,000 – 4, 000 words: 20% Coursework

Future opportunities

A level history will help you in the future. It will develop your ability to construct a logical and convincing case to support your point of view, which will be a valuable skill at work. It provides a large range of vicarious examples which help to develop your understanding of human nature and it helps to make you a more open-minded and intellectual individual. History is also one of the A levels highly rated by the Russell group universities. All this means that history provides a good foundation for a wide range of careers. These include law, journalism, teaching, museum and archive work, the arts, management in the private and public sectors, business, civil service and foreign office, accountancy, medicine. At university history can be studied as a single honours degree or as a joint honours degree with, for example, a foreign language, English or politics.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Burnham Grammar School directly.

Last updated date: 28 April 2015

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