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History AS/A2 (See Option Blocks on our website) at Notre Dame High School

Course description

The course provides an opportunity to study a period of British and European history in depth and breadth.

Course content

The course provides an opportunity to study a period of British and European history in depth and breadth.

France in Revolution. 1774 -1815.

2H France in Revolution, 1774 – 1815

This option provides for the study in-depth of a key period of history, which was to change the relationship between the ruler and the governed, not only in France but throughout Europe and, in time, the wider world. A Study of France in Revolution embraces concepts such as absolutism, enlightenment, constitutionalism, democracy, republic and dictatorship. It also encourages consideration of issues such as the relationship between rulers and the ruled, the place of the Church in the State, the power of the people and promotes reflection on what makes and perpetuates revolution.

To be studied in Year 12

Part one: the end of Absolutism and the French Revolution, 1774 - 1795

The origins of the French Revolution, 1774 – 1789

  • Absolutism and the structure of the Ancien Regime: Louis XVI as King: government; social divisions; privileges and burdens; strengths and weaknesses 
  • The ideas of the Enlightened philosophes: extent of influence in France: the salons: impact of the American revolution and War of Independence 
  • Economic problems and royal finance: attempts to improve royal finances under Turgot, Necker and Calonne 
  • The Assembly of Notables and political developments, February 1787 to May 1789; the state of France, politically, economically and socially by the meeting of the Estates-General

The experiment in constitutional monarchy, 1789-1792 

  • The revolution May – October 1789: developments in Versailles and Paris; developments in the country, including the Great Fear; the October Days 
  • The attempts to establish a constitutional monarchy; church reforms, political, judicial and administrative reforms; economic and social change 
  • Reaction to change internally and externally; the political clubs; the King and the flight to Varennes; 
  • Sans-culottes and the collapse of the constitutional experiment; the September massacres and elections to the national Convention

The emergence and spread of the Terror, September 1792-1795 

  • The establishment of a Republic; problems and policies; debate leading to the execution of the King 
  • Internal and external war; the spread of war; the rising in the Vendee; attempts to establish wartime control; Robespierre; the fall of the Girondins and the Federalist revolt 
  • The process of the war; the levee en masse and the coming of the terror 
  • The spread of the Terror; executions; the influence of Robespierre and the sans culottes; the role of the CPS; Robespierre’s fall and the collapse of the Terror

To be studied in Year 13

Part two: the rise of Napoleon and his impact on France and Europe, 1795-1815

The Directory and Napoleon’s rise to power, 1795-1799 (A-level only) 

  • The aftermath of the terror; the Thermidorian reaction and White Terror; the 1795 Parisian risings 
  • The establishment of the Directory; the constitution; financial and political problems and policies; strengths and weakness of the Directory 
  • Military campaigns and expansion abroad; Napoleon’s contribution to French success; background, character and military leadership; the Italian campaign and Egypt 
  • The coup of Brumaire and the establishment of the Consulate; the strengths and weaknesses of the new constitution; Napoleon’s position and the state of France by 1799

The impact of Napoleon’s rule on France, 1799-1815 (A-level only) 

  • Political change; Napoleon’s consolidation of power and establishment of Emperor status; constitutional developments 
  • Social change; class distinctions and titles; education and attitude to women; censorship and propaganda; the position of the church; the Concordat and its aftermath 
  • Legal and administrative change; the Napoleonic codes; the prefects, police and control 
  • Financial and economic policies and problems; taxation; the central economy; the impact of war and the Continental System; degree of economic change

The impact of Napoleon’s rule on Europe, 1799-1815 (A-level only) 

  • The army and conquest during the consulate and Empire; reasons for military success by 1808 and the part played by Napoleon; the reasons for expansion and the building of an empire, its value and problems 
  • The control of the Grand Empire; administration; economic and social policies 
  • Challenges to the Empire; the continental blockade; the Peninsular War; the Austrian campaign; the Russian campaign; the war of the Fourth Coalition 
  • The collapse of the Empire; the first Peace of Paris; the 100 days; Napoleon’s abdication and second Peach of Paris; treatment of France by the ~Vienna Settlement; the condition of France in 1815; Napoleon’s reputation and legacy

Britain 1603 – 1702

We study a variety of topics crucial to a clear understanding of the development of the modern British state. In developing this knowledge you will gain key understanding of the impact of a monarch’s personality on their style of rule, religious conflicts and also the changing relationship between Crown and Parliament across the period with the ability to analyse the development of Parliamentary power.  

Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy, 1603–1702 

  • This option allows students to study in breadth issues of change, continuity, cause and
  • consequence in this period through the following key questions: 
  • How far did the power of the monarchy change? 
  • To what extent and why was power more widely shared during this period? 
  • Why and with what results were there disputes over religion?
  • • How effective was opposition? 
  • How important were ideas and ideology? 
  • How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

To be studied in Year 12

PART ONE – Absolutism Challenged: Britain, 1603–1649

Monarchs and Parliaments, 1603–1629 

  • The Political Nation and the social basis of power 
  • James I’s character and views on monarchy, court and favourites; Charles I’s character and views on monarchy, court and favourites 
  • The financial weakness of the Crown and attempts to reform and strengthen royal finance 
  • Religion and religious divisions 
  • Relations and disputes with parliaments 
  • The state of relations between Crown and Parliament by 1629 and reaction of the Political Nation

Revolution, 1629–1649 

  • Divisions over religion: Arminianism; Puritanism; Millenarianism 
  • Political divisions: the Personal Rule; the Long Parliament and the leadership of Pym; divisions and the outbreak of Civil War and the outbreak of Civil War 
  • The Civil Wars: England, Scotland, Ireland 
  • Social divisions: the emergence of radicalism; the Levellers and other groups 
  • Post-war divisions between Army and Parliament and the failure to secure a post-war settlement 
  • Regicide

To be studied in Year 13

PART TWO – Monarchy restored and restrained: Britain, 1649–1702

From Republic to Restored and Limited Monarchy, 1649–1678 

  • The consolidation of the Republic: Scotland; Ireland 
  • Political divisions and experiments: Republicanism and The Rump; Millenarianism and the Parliament of Saints; 
  • Cromwell, the Protectorate and the restoration of the Political Nation 
  • Charles II and the nature of restored monarchy; rule through parliament and ministers, 
  • Clarendon, the Cabal and Danby 
  • The emergence of Court and Country ‘parties’ 
  • Religious divisions and conflicts: the defeat of Millenarianism; the restoration of the Church of England; Protestant Dissenters; conflict over Catholic influence at Court

The Establishment of Constitutional Monarchy, 1678–1702 

  • Political developments and conflicts: Exclusion; absolutism 
  • The ‘Glorious Revolution’ and its consolidation in England, Scotland and Ireland 
  • Divisions within the Political Nation and the emergence of Whigs and Tories and their impact 
  • Religious changes: Catholicism; toleration 
  • Government under William and Mary 
  • The condition of Britain and its monarchy by 1702: the significance of the Act of Settlement; the balance of power between Crown and Parliament; the condition of the Church of England and non-conformism and Catholicism

The teacher initially dominates the teaching of History. However, as the confidence of the group grows so debate and argument on historical matters increases. Students are expected to take an active role in many lessons and prepare and lead discussions

Entry requirements

This course does not require a GCSE in history. If you have studied History at GCSE, you should have achieved at least a level 4. This is because of the demands of the course. History is an extremely demanding A level; students have to study two separate subjects, both of which require in-depth and sustained study. The subject is highly literate and students must be prepared to read, write and discuss in great length and detail. One assessment, for example, requires students to write a 3500 thesis based on primary texts and academic analysis. The following personal qualities are essential:

  • An enquiring mind.
  • A willingness to become involved in debate.
  • A commitment to read widely round the subject.
  • A capacity for hard work.
  • A determination to achieve.
  • Very good literary skills, the ability to make good notes and write analytical essays.

(See Option Blocks on our website)



What's assessed

The first part of the corresponding full A-level option. This involves the study of significant historical developments over a period of around 50 years and associated historical interpretations.



• 1 hour 30 minutes written exam

• Two two-part questions (one compulsory)

• 60 marks

• 50% of AS


• Two sections

• Section A - one compulsory two-part question linked to interpretations (25 marks)

• Section B - one two-part question from two (35 marks)



What's assessed?

All above course content could be used in the exam. The study of significant historical developments over a period of around 100 years and associated interpretations


  • 2 hours 30 minutes written exam 
  • three questions (one compulsory) 
  • 80 marks 
  • 40% of A-level


  • Two sections 
  • Section A – one compulsory question linked to historical interpretations (30 marks) 
  • Section B – two from four essays (2 x 25 marks)

What's assessed?

The study in depth of a period of major historical change or development and associated primary evidence


  • 2 hours 30 minutes written exam 
  • three questions (one compulsory) 
  • 80 marks 
  • 40% of A-level


  • Two sections 
  • Section A – one compulsory question linked to primary sources or sources contemporary to the period (30 marks) 
  • Section B – two from three essays (2 x 25 marks) 

What's assessed?

A personal study based on a topic of student's choice


3000-3500 words 

40 marks 

20% of A-level 

marked by teachers 

moderated by AQA

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 07 November 2017
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