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 – Russia under the Tsars and Communists 1855-1964

Part one: Autocracy, Reform and Revolution: Russia, 1855–1917

Trying to preserve autocracy, 1855–1894

  • The state of Russia in 1855
  • Reform and Reaction – the rule of Alexander II and Alexander III
  • How and why did opposition to Tsarism grow?
  • How did Russia change? – Economic and social developments

 The collapse of autocracy, 1894–1917

  • A new tsar – the rule of Nicholas II. Was he doomed to fail? Was 1905 a ‘dress rehearsal for revolution?’
  • To what was Russia a modern state by 1914? – Economic and social developments
  • To what extent was Russia on the verge of revolution? – Opposition: ideas and ideologies, liberalism, socialism; Marxism; individuals and radical groups
  • War and revolution – how did the First World War affect life in Russia? Why did tsarism collapse in 1917? Challenges facing the new regime.
  • Road to October and beyond – Why were Lenin and the Bolsheviks able to seize power in October 1917 and the creation of a communist state

Unit 2 Depth Study – The Making of Modern Britain, 1951–2007

Part one: building a new Britain, 1951–1979

The Affluent Society, 1951–1964

  • Government 1951 – 1964. Conservative domination – why did Labour fail gain power? Boom or austerity – how well was the economy managed?
  • Changing society – the rise of the teenager, rock and roll and youth culture. How did the position of women change, the power of the ‘establishment’ and problem of racial tension.
  • Britain’s place in the world – Cold War and the nuclear threat, Korea and Suez and the retreat.  

The Sixties, 1964–1970

  • The challenges of the 60s – political and industrial tensions, the end of the post-war consensus and the ‘troubles in Northern Ireland’
  • A ‘permissive society?’ – capital punishment, the rise of the comprehensive, abortion and homosexuality. Social and cultural change: the television revolution, leisure, the end of deference, youth culture, female equality and protest movement – civil right and the Vietnam War.
  • Britain’s place in the world – Relations with and policies towards USA and Vietnam War, decolonisation including ‘withdrawal East of Suez’ and Rhodesia.

The end of Post-War Consensus, 1970–1979

  • The troubled 70s – Governments of Heath, Wilson and Callaghan, industrial unrest and the Northern Ireland ‘troubles.’
  • Society in the 1970s: progress of feminism; the Sex Discrimination Act; race and immigration; youth; environmentalism
  • Britain’s entry into and relations with Europe; the state of the ‘special relationship’ with USA; attitudes to USSR and China


Unit 1: Breadth Study

Tsarist and Communist Russia, 1855–1964

The emergence of Communist dictatorship, 1917–1941

  • How did the communists consolidate their power – challenges of civil war, the impact of ideology how Russia was ruled and was dictatorship inevitable?
  • The rise of Stalin – how did Stalin emerge as leader in the years after Lenin’s death? How did Stalin rule Russia and to what extent was he ‘Lenin’s baby?’
  • The Great Turn – how did the rule of Lenin and Stalin change how the economy was run?  Collectivisation and the Five Year Plans
  • The creation of ‘Soviet Man and Soviet Woman’ – How did the rule of Lenin and Stalin impact on class, women, young people, religion and national minorities?
  • The terror state – How did the communists control the state? The Red Terror, mass murder and the purges
  • The political, economic and social condition of the Soviet Union by 1941

The Stalinist dictatorship and reaction, 1941–1964

  • The Great Patriotic War – How did the Second affect Russia, its people and the role of Stalin?
  • High Stalinism – the return of terror; destruction of ‘opposition’ and cult of personality, the death of Stalin
  • The power struggle – why did Khrushchev emerge as leader and how successful was his attempts to break free from the Stalinist period?
  • Post-war – economic and social change. Industry, agriculture and cultural change from Stalin to Khrushchev
  • How effective was opposition to the regime- cultural dissidents; why did Khrushchev fall in 1964?
  • The political, economic and social condition of the Soviet Union by 1964


Part two: Modern Britain, 1979–2007

The impact of Thatcherism, 1979–1987

  • The Thatcher government – Thatcherism and the reasons for continued electoral success, division in the Labour Party and the SPD.
  • The Thatcher economy – monetarism; privatisation inflation, unemployment and decline of manufacturing. Impact of Thatcherism on society: miner’s strike and the poll tax
  • Foreign Affairs: the Falklands War; the ‘special relationship’ with USA and Britain’s relationship with Europe

Towards a new Consensus, 1987–1997

  • Fall of Thatcher and her legacy – The Major government – as leader, ‘Black Wednesday’ and its impact; political sleaze, scandals and satire; political policies; approach to Northern Ireland. The rise of new New Labour  – The Labour Party under Kinnock, Smith and Blair; reasons for Labour victory in 1997.
  • Social issues – anti-establishment culture; the position of women and race-relations
  • Foreign affairs: relations with Europe, interventions in the Balkans, the end of the Cold War

The Era of New Labour, 1997–2007

  • Blair as leader – domestic change, Brown and economic policy; Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement. The Conservative Party – why did the conservative fail to win power ?
  • Social issues: workers, women and youth, had Britain become a multi-cultural society.
  • Foreign affairs: attitudes to Europe; the ‘special relationship’ with USA; military interventions, 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’; Britain’s position in the world by 2007


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.


There are some similarities with GCSE, since Unit 1 is a logical progression from the Paper 2 Depth Study, both focus on modern 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.


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.