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History - Modern A Level at Varndean College

Course description

Investigating the recent past can help us understand the lives we live today. As a Modern History student you will have the opportunity to study and debate some of the great controversies. Was Stalin simply a ‘Red Tsar’? Was Mao a dictatorial tyrant or a great reformer? In Britain, why did it take working women and men so long to get the vote? You will be encouraged to reach your own conclusions about the past and develop a range of historical skills.

Studying Modern History may also give you the chance to experience the past first-hand, through visits to places such as Russia, land of the Tsars and birthplace of the famous communist revolution. Or explore your course work theme in Italy or America.




Course content

Year 1   

  • Russia 1917-91 from Lenin to Yeltsin
  • How did communism change up to 1985?
  • Economics & cultural life
  • Mao’s China 1949-1976
  • How did the party establish control?
  • What were the origins of the Cultural Revolution? 

Year 2

  • Protest, agitation and Parliamentary reform in Britain 1780 - 1928
  • Coursework: You choose either a question derived from one of the exam topics (Modern or Early Modern) or choose a completely new topic on the Renaissance or causes of the American Civil War.  The choice is yours.


Level: International Baccalaureate

  • Origins & development of authoritarian & single party states: Stalin, Peron & Mao
  • Rights and protest 1948-1964: Martin Luther King; the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa
  • The Cold War
  • Historical investigation

In addition, at Higher Level only:

  • Imperial Russia, Revolutions and the Soviet State 1853-1924
  • Unification and consolidation of Germany and Italy 1815-90
  • The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 1924-2000

Entry requirements

Standard advanced course requirements.


80% exam, 20% coursework



Future opportunities

Many students go on to degree courses in History, Politics, International Relations and Law. This subject provides useful skills and a recognised academic qualification for a variety of careers.

Further information

In recent years, we have visited St Petersburg and New York. In future years, we intend to run trips to Washington, Edinburgh and Rome. In the summer term, speakers from local universities also often present guest lectures and seminars.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Varndean College directly.

Last updated date: 24 October 2018
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    • At Varndean College our aim is to offer all our students the rich, broad and enjoyable experience they need to develop, flourish and achieve their goals in the adult world.

      Teaching and Learning is at the heart of the successful partnerships between students and staff here and we are proud of the skilled and imaginative approaches to teaching taken by our staff to make learning exciting.

      Equally important to the success of our students is the enjoyment they gain from feeling part of a community: a community that is created through the wealth of opportunities to engage with others offered by our extensive enrichment activities. From: Code-breaking to Sport; Music to Peer-mentoring; Drama to Politics Society, there really is something for everyone.