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History AS & A Level at Biddenham Upper School and Sports College

Course description

Wherever you will go in the future, whether it is to university or an apprenticeship or into the world of work people will know and value your education when you tell them you have done A Level History. This is because History is a challenging and exciting discipline that develops not only your deeper understanding of the present by exploring the past but it also enhances your analytical and evaluative skills and teaches you how to gather together all of your knowledge and understanding and formulate your own supported argument.

In the past students of History have gone on to study a variety of subjects at university including politics, law, education, international relations, anthropology, archaeology, sociology, criminology, literature and business as well as ancient, medieval and modern history. History graduates have had success in fields like politics, entertainment, media, writing and law.

An A Level in History shows that you have a wide range of higher order thinking skills such as the ability to research independently and build a strong argument. These are transferable skills that can be applied to any future discipline or employment. However, more than anything, History is a fascinating voyage into a past filled with colourful characters, stories, inventions, adventures, comedies and tragedies,all of which have shaped who we are today.

Course content

Here at Biddenham we do Edexcel A Level History. There are four units in A Level history, three exam units and one independently researched coursework unit. The units are split across two years and cover a mixture of historical periods from the 18th century onwards. All of your lessons are taught by history specialists who have expertise in the areas covered by the specification.

Yr 12
Britain Transformed, 1918-97
Starting in September of Y12 you will be studying the first half of your linked units on democracies in change. In the 20th century liberal democracies came under increasing challenge from both within and without. Through learning about Britain, you will be able to understand the nature and effectiveness of the response to these challenges. The unit focuses on the social, political and economic impacts of these and covers everything from the impact and the end of WWI to the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher and her legacy.

Ireland and the Union, c1774-1923
The second unit studied in Y12, this comprises two parts: the breadth focus on long-term changes in Ireland’s relationship with the United Kingdom and the more in-depth focus on key episodes of history during this period. The unit focuses on the political and social impact of the changes from the start of rebellion in the late 18th century through to the end of the Irish Civil War.

Yr 13
The USA, 195-1992: Conformity and Challenge

The second of the two democracies in change units, this one consists of a depth study of the USA in the post-WWII period, focusing on the growing affluence of white suburbia in the 1950s through the racial and political protests of the 1960s to the rise of right-wing groups in the 1980s and the development of bitter divisions between Democrats and Republicans. This unit, like the one on Britain, focuses on social, political and economic changes and challenges.

Interpretations of the Past Through Coursework
The coursework unit will link to the work done on Ireland in Y12, this ensures that you will have a very solid foundation upon which to build your independently researched historical enquiry. As you delve deeper into Anglo-Irish history you will be able to see how historians have formulates their arguments and use that historiographical understanding to structure your own.

The topics that were chosen play to the strengths and interests of the teachers who will be helping you through your History A Level, but more than that they ensure that you are taught topics that will be of interest to you and are easy to engage with. The sense of slight familiarity with the periods covered will help you because it means you will start with a preconception about the period and the people who lived then, be it good or bad; most of us will know of Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher and the NHS.

Entry requirements

  • English GCSE at grade C or above and if History GCSE was taken then a grade C or above.
  • An interest in and enjoyment of history.
  • A desire to challenge yourself to develop skills of analysis, research, evaluation and argument.
  • A desire to take part in class discussion and independent projects.
  • An acceptance of the high level of reading required.
  • The ability to work independently and do independent study each week.

Assessment

The History specification has recently undergone several changes to meet the new government guidelines. As a result the assessment schedule has changed significantly. Paper 1, 2 and 3 are exam units and will be assessed at the end of Y13. The coursework unit will be completed part-way through Y13 but will be typed and include a bibliography.

Paper 1: Britain Transformed, 1918-97 (Worth 30% of A Level)
Paper 2: The USA, 1955-92: conformity and challenge (Worth 20% of A Level)
Paper 3: Ireland and the Union, c1774-1923 (Worth 30% of A Level)
Coursework: Coursework on Anglo-Irish History (Worth 20% of A Level)

Financial information

You will be expected to purchase the textbooks for the unit and use these to help you with your study. There are two textbooks, one covers both Paper 1 and Paper 2 and the second covers Paper 3. As of July 2016 the two books were priced at £24.99 and £14.99

There are also trips planned for A Level history, students are responsible for paying for any trip fees. You will need to provide your own stationery for use in lessons (i.e. pen and paper).

Further information

History is a challenging subject and will require considerable reading and plenty of writing. The payoff is that in addition to learning a lot about the world and its history, a History A Level is held in very high regard by university admissions tutors and employers.

If you have any further questions you can contact the Head of History, Mrs Vaughan via e-mail at:reeann.vaughan@mybiddenham.com or Tweet us at: @BISHistoryDep

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Biddenham Upper School and Sports College directly.

Last updated date: 04 November 2016

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