In Year 9, students study European and British History from 1870-1945. In the Christmas Term we study the causes of the First World War and the war itself, including the major battles, trench warfare, the Home Front and propaganda and other aspects of the war (nb. students have the opportunity to go on a tour of the First World War battlefields and other sites in Belgium and France in the Lent Term).
In the Lent Term we study the impact of the First World War. We look at the Suffragettes, the war and the struggle for votes for women. We then study Tsar Nicholas II, the war and the Russian Revolution.
In the Summer Term, we look at Stalin’s Russia. Then, as part of the UCL Holocaust Beacon School programme, we look at the Holocaust. We also then reflect on the changing nature of warfare over those years. Throughout, the emphasis is on engagement of the students in the drama and importance of history and also on preparing them for IGCSE. We devise IGCSE-style questions for each of the units above to ensure that students are already equipped for the skills they need. The Year 9 course, therefore, provides an excellent foundation, in terms developing both interest and skills, for further study. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the course is the fact that it is normal for c.90% of the Year Group to opt to study history at IGCSE.
In Years 10 and 11 we study the Edexcel History IGCSE, which comprises two papers that cover key aspects of, and developments in, European and world history, 1918-2010.
1) Germany 1918-45 – this looks at Germany after WWI, the factors behind the extraordinary rise of Hitler to power, how he created a dictatorship and police state and how he affected those under Nazi rule: we look at Nazi policy against the Jew (culminating in the Holocaust), policies for other sectors of society such as women and youth and the heroic German opposition to the Nazis.
2) The Cold War – this conflict between communist Russia and democratic America (and their allies), 1945-72, repeatedly hovered close to war, possibly nuclear, and included the Berlin Blockade and Airlift, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and détente in the early 1970s.
1) Inter-war America – this looks at America in one of its most vibrant yet at the same time sinister eras – an age of boom and prosperity (the jazz age, Hollywood, flappers, sport) at the same time as the darker side of gangsters, prohibition and the Ku Klux Klan, followed by the Crash, Great Depression, Franklin D Roosevelt and the New Deal.
2) Conflict, crisis and change in the Middle East – Israel, Palestine and the surrounding Arab states. We look at the build-up of tension in Palestine between the world wars, the birth of Israel in 1848 and the subsequent War of Independence, Suez Crisis, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, invasion of Lebanon, Palestinian refugee crisis and resistance and attempts to find peace and a long term solution. It is an incredibly interesting and ‘relevant to today’course.
We study OCR’s specification. In Year 12, students take one British History Enquiry unit and one European or World History Period unit. These comprise 40% of the A level.
The British unit – Britain 1603-1660: The Stuarts, Civil War, Protectorate and Restoration:
In the British unit we study the origins of the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I and the Interregnum of Oliver and Richard Cromwell. The focus is on the political and religious tensions and that led to such dramatic developments and examines the course of the revolution and wars themselves. It looks at why both the Stuart monarchy and then the Protectorate both failed. The unit studies what happened and why through both primary and secondary sources and is covered in the Middle Sixth Form. It is examined in a 1 hour and 30 minutes paper and comprises 25% of the A level.
The European unit – France, 1814-70: from Revolution to Empire.
In the European/world unit, we study the turmoil in France between the 1789 Revolution and the collapse of the Second Empire of Napoleon III in 1870. The focus is on the political, religious and economic tensions that led to four consecutive revolutions that toppled first the Bourbon monarchy in 1830, then the Orleanist monarchy in 1848, then the Second Republic in 1852 and finally the Second Empire in 1870. This unit is studied in the Middle Sixth Form. It is examined in a 1 hour paper and comprises 15% of the A level.
In addition, as an extension exercise and to join the two units together, we compare the English Revolution of the 1640s with the French Revolutions of 1789-1870 to discuss the underlying causes of revolutions in history.
In Year 13, students take one historical theme paper and one Coursework unit. These comprise 60% of the A level and build on what was studied in Year 12 though, again, there is no overlap in content.
The Thematic unit: The Challenge of German nationalism, 1789-1919:
In the Themes and Interpretations in history unit, we study the challenge of German Nationalism 1789-1919, looking at developments that had particularly dramatic impact on Europe and the world. These include how Germany came into being in 1871 and, equally significantly, how German nationalism went from being originally liberal and peaceable to right wing and assertive, leading (in conjunction with other factors) to the First World War. In so doing, we also look at three Depth Studies – the failure of the liberal revolutions in 1848-49, the unification of Germany through Bismarck’s three wars of 1864-71 and the slide to war under Kaiser Wilhelm II – all three are major turning points in history. This unit is examined in a 2 hour and 30 minutes paper and comprises 40% of the A level.
In the Coursework unit, students write a 3000-4000 word essay on a topic of their own choice. It can be linked to topics previously studied or it can be completely new.
Many students choose to do new topics and the department has particular specialisms in the Crusades, Louis XIV of France, 19th Century British and European history and Nazi Germany, all of which provide a rich source of fascinating questions. Examples of the issues from the Nazi Germany option are ‘Was Hitler a weak dictator?’, ‘Was the Holocaust the result of a long term plan by Hitler?’ and ‘Was Mein Kampf a blueprint for Nazi foreign policy, 1933-41?’ It comprises 20% of the A level.