Qualification: A-Level

Awarding Body:
Length of Course:
2 Years

The aim of the course is to develop an enthusiasm and interest in History, acquire a greater understanding of how the past has been interpreted; explore the significance of people and events in the past and communicate effectively their skills and knowledge through an in depth study of the period. The A Level course builds upon the skills developed across the GCSE course and is therefore a natural progression.

 Year 12

Unit 1: Breadth Study

The Tudors: England, 1485–1603 Henry VII, 1485–1509

  • Henry Tudor’s consolidation of power; how he ran the country; his relationship with foreign countries
  • Society; relationships between churchmen, nobles and commoners; regional division; social discontent and rebellions
  • The economy and religion in England
Henry VIII, 1509–1547
  • Henry VIII: character and aims; how he ran the country and changes from Henry VII; his relationship with other countries; securing the succession
  • Society: elites and commoners; regional issues and the social impact of religious upheaval; Rebellion
  • The economy and Religion: renaissance ideas; reform of the Church; continuity and change by 1547

Unit 2: The Russian Revolution and the Rise of Stalin, 1917–1929

Dissent and Revolution 1917

  • The Last Tsar: Imperial Russia and Nicholas II  – why was Russia on the brink of revolution?
  • The Tsar falls: Causes and consequences of the February Revolution of 1917 and the new government
  • Revolution to Revolution: The return of Lenin; the July Days and the Kornilov coup
  • 10 days that shook the world: Causes and consequences of the October Revolution.

 Bolshevik consolidation 1918-1924

  • Communist control: the establishment of one-party control
  • Red v White: The Civil War: causes and course; the murder of the Tsar; why did the Reds win?
  • Red Terror:  War communism; Tambov revolt and Kronstadt rising; the NEP and its impact
  • Socialism alone: Attitudes of foreign powers to the new communist state, Lenin’s rule by 1924

Stalin’s rise to power, 1924–1929

  • Contenders for power: Stalin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Kamenev, Rykov, and Zinoviev
  • The struggle for power: how and why Stalin became party leader and the outcome for the other contenders
  • The Great Turn: Why did Stalin decide to modernise and collectivise?
  • The Cult begins: Propaganda and the personality cult. Stalin and the world


Unit 1: Breadth Study

The Tudors: England, 1485–1603

Instability and consolidation: ‘the Mid- Tudor Crisis’, 1547–1563

  • The reign of Edward VI religious and social issues; rebellion
  • Mary I and royal authority; problems of succession; relations with foreign powers
  • Social and religious issues
  • Elizabeth I: Character, relationship with foreign countries
  • The impact of economic, social and religious developments in the early years of Elizabeth’s rule

The triumph of Elizabeth, 1563–1603

  • Elizabethan government; foreign affairs including Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Society: continuity and change; religious issues and rebellions
  • Regional developments; change and continuity; the English renaissance and ‘the Golden Age’ of art, literature and music
  • The last years of Elizabeth

Unit 2: Stalin’s Rule, 1929–1953

Economy and Society 1929-1941

  • Socialising agriculture: Developments in the countryside: collectivisation, the liquidation of the kulaks and the holomodor
  • ‘100 years in 10’ : Industrialisation and the Five Year Plans – its success and impact
  • The Cult builds: The development of the Stalin cult: propaganda
  • Ready for war?: The Condition of the Soviet Union by 1941: strengths and weaknesses

Politics and control 1929-1941

  • Terror: the machinery of state terror; who murdered Kirov?  the show trials
  • Yezhovshchina: mass terror, the death of Trotsky; who was responsible for the purges
  • Soviet man:  what was culture and society like. Impact on women and young people.
  • Road to war: Stalin and international relations; relations with Hitler and the Western powers

The Great Patriotic War and Stalin’s dictatorship 1941-1953

  • Barbarossa to Berlin: The impact of the war, invasion and fightback, how was Russia mobilised to fight?
  • Red victory: Why did the Soviet Union win and what was the impact?
  • The Doctor’s Plot: High Stalinism, renewed Terror and the Doctor’s Plot.
  • Soviet Superpower: the emergence of a ‘superpower’; the Cold War; death of Stalin



Unit 1 will be assessed through examination with an extract question and a choice of essay based questions.

Unit 1 is worth 40% of the total A-Level marks.

Unit 2 will be assessed through examination with a source question and a choice of essay based questions.

Unit 2 is worth 40% of the total A-Level marks.

The Personal Study

Is on-going throughout Y13 and is worth 20% of the total A Level marks.


Comparison with GCSE

There are some similarities with GCSE, since Unit 2 is a logical progression from the Paper 2 Depth Study, both focus on 20th century dictatorships. The personal study provides both individual research and extended writing opportunities, and combines the skills acquired on units 1 and 2.

However, there are differences too. The approach is much more essay-based and the topics are a new area of study for everyone. In addition, there are more opportunities for learning outside the classroom, with the three day residential visit to London in Year 12 and conferences and study days.

Relevance to Further Studies and Careers

Traditionally, History has been studied with a wide range of Arts subjects such as: English, Languages and Politics. However, because of its analytical and evaluative nature, it also combines well with various science options. As a National Curriculum subject, History is very useful for students who are thinking about entering the teaching profession. It is also a popular choice for girls who hope to read Law, while others choose to read History at University. It is true that after graduation, many historians do not use their degree directly in the world of work. However, the skills that they have acquired make them very valuable and sought after employees in a whole variety of occupations. Among the many and varied careers followed by former A-Level students are: pharmacy, accountancy, hotel and catering, travel and tourism as well as the more traditional teaching and Law. Several girls have also entered Medical School with History as one of their A-Level subjects.

Entry Requirements

It is vital that students will have passed GCSE History with at least a ‘6’ grade. A Grade 6 in English Language is also necessary due to the literacy requirements of the course.