Overview of Subject:

History is the reconstruction of the past events and societies. What really caused the Second World War?  How far women’s roles change in twentieth century Germany? Why did the United States fail in Vietnam? Historians use mainly written sources – newspapers, diaries, letters, speeches, government and business records and so on – as well as objects such as buildings, tools, weapons and clothing, but

Historians use mainly written sources – newspapers, diaries, letters, speeches, government and business records and so on – as well as objects such as buildings, tools, weapons and clothing, but naturally, their information is always incomplete.  There are always gaps in the historian’s information and not all that information is reliable: so we have to carefully evaluate our evidence and, if necessary, challenge each other’s conclusions. That combination of rigorous research, careful interpretation and lively debate make History one of the most exciting and demanding of disciplines


Year 1:

Year 1 consisting of two units:

The making of the Georgian Britain c.1678 – 1783

The French Revolution and Napoleon 1774 – 1815

Year 2:

Year 2 consisting of two units:

  • One of the following:

The Origins and Growth of the British Empire 1558 – 1783

The Challenge of German Nationalism 1789 – 1919


 A coursework investigation into an agreed topic.

You will carry out research into a question chosen by you and approved by the OCR examination board. Each student is provided with a different question related to a common theme. Your research must be your own work but you will be closely supervised and advised by your Tutor.

Most students find that this is the most satisfying task of their entire A Level study.

How is the course assessed?

Year 1:

Weekly tests throughout the term to ensure that learning is embedded. There will also be a Qualifying Examination at the end of the academic year to confirm that you are able to continue to Year 2.

Year 2:

You will be required to sit three examination papers testing your knowledge, your skills in evaluating historians’ arguments and your ability to construct a convincing argument of your own.

For your investigation, you will write a 4,000 word essay.

OCR History A-Level assessment breakdown 

Why should I study History, and what skills will it develop?

History is a rigorous academic subject respected by all universities. It will develop your analytic and evaluative skills through confrontation with both source material and the competing historical theories it has led to.

It will teach you how to articulate convincing arguments in a clear written form, a skill that will benefit you in your academic, professional and personal life.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

A GCSE in History is not a prerequisite but you will need to be fluent in written English. If you are a Non-native English speaker, you require a high IELTS score.

The ability to read considerable amounts of text with a critical eye and to write clearly and concisely would also be a benefit. A willingness to read around the subject would be a great asset

It is important to bear in mind that at this level it is not a matter of retaining a lot of information but more the ability of constructing a persuasive argument through an understanding of a topic or theme.

How is this course useful?

History is highly respected by all universities for a variety of courses. History is a great A-Level for progression into social science and humanities courses at university. With courses such as History, English, Law, International Relations, Anthropology and Economics being common choices.  Medical schools are increasingly looking for students who have a humanities subject like History as well as the necessary sciences.

The analytical and writing skills gained from History are invaluable in any field. Its depth, variety and challenging nature mean that the skills you learn will remain with you, no matter what you choose to study at a higher level.

Exam Board / Code


Head of Department: Dr John Oliphant