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History (Early Modern) AS & A Level at Presdales School

Course description

This is an ideal course for students who enjoy History and would like to complement their GCSE course and broaden their historical knowledge with the study of earlier periods. The course covers the history of England, Europe and the wider world between 1400 and 1800.

  • Unit 1 England 1485-1558: the Early Tudors
    Henry VII, the strength of the Tudor monarchy and threats to his rule; Henry VIII, his marriages, the break with Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries, and court politics including the roles of Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn; the mid-Tudor crisis under Edward VI and Mary I including Mary’s marriage, opposition to religious change and rebellions. 
  • Unit 2 Exploration, Encounters and Empire 1445-1570
    Exploration overseas by the Portuguese and Spanish; the role of explorers such as Columbus and Pizarro; colonisation including the conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires; trade in spices, silks, gold and other precious commodities; the effects of trade and colonisation on native peoples, including slavery, and the people, economy and culture of Europe. 
  • Unit 3 The Origins and Growth of the British Empire 1558-1783
    The role of Queen Elizabeth I and later monarchs in supporting the development of Empire; scientific and technological developments; piracy and privateering, Drake, Raleigh, the Spanish Armada and the war with Spain; the American colonies including relations with native Americans and rebellions in the colonies; Clive, Mughal India and the development of British rule; slavery, trade and plantations; the impact of the British Empire on Britain and on the colonies and indigenous peoples.
  • Unit 4 Historical Enquiry (coursework)
    You will choose to focus on a particular topic of interest to you, related to one of the three units you have studied; you will learn a range of research and argument techniques, and then research and answer a question on the topic you have chosen using a range of different sources. 

You will be assessed by 1 coursework essay of 4000 words, on a topic and question chosen by you. This is not completed under controlled conditions, and you have the opportunity to research and work on it independently during the spring term of Year 13.

Early Modern History AS level
The AS level in Early Modern History consists of Units 1 and 2 of the A-level course. The content of the units is the same but the examination questions are designed to be less challenging. The AS level on its own is therefore a good qualification in History at a lower level than A-level.

Entry requirements

Students are required to have obtained at least a grade B at GCSE History or to have obtained at least a grade B in GCSE English or English Literature, with an average point score of 43 or above.


Students study two examined units at AS, and one examined unit and one coursework unit at A2. The examined units require students to answer short questions on causation, essay questions debating a controversial issue, and critically to evaluate sources and use them to support their answers.

The coursework unit includes a taught course, followed by a period of independent research in which students set their own question, identify source materials from which to research, and then research and write up their answer as a 3500 word essay with footnotes and a bibliography. This is excellent preparation for the demands of higher education courses and is consistently mentioned by former students as one of the most useful learning experiences of their 6th form years.

  • Unit 1 The European Reformation c.1500-1564
  • Unit 2 The Church in England: the struggle for supremacy, 1529-1547
  • Unit 3 The Triumph of Elizabeth, 1547-1603
  • Unit 4 Overseas exploration, commerce and colonisation, 1415-1715

Future opportunities

History is invaluable in broadening students’ knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world and developing their analytical skills. Students with AS and A-level qualifications in History can write, argue, persuade, debate, process information, weigh up evidence and reach conclusions and present these. These skills are highly prized by universities, and by employers in a very wide range of fields, including business, management, journalism and the media, law, politics and the civil service, economics, finance and accounting, the arts, tourism and heritage.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 03 November 2016
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Key information


  • More information
    • Presdales is a five-form entry all-ability school which became an Academy on 1st April 2012, for girls aged from eleven to eighteen. Boys are welcomed into the Sixth Form. Founded as Ware Grammar School for Girls in 1906 on the Amwell House site, it moved to its present site at Presdales in 1964. Since 1975 – when the school’s intake was enlarged – we have accepted girls from a wide area of Hertfordshire.

      The school was rated ‘outstanding’ at all four inspections in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2008. Language College status was granted by the DfES in 1995 and, on the strength of the school’s high performance overall, Music College status with English as an accompanying strand was awarded in 2006, followed by Mathematics & Computing College status with a Gifted & Talented focus in 2008.