The History Department offers three periods of history, as well as Archaeology, Politics, Classical Civilisation and an element of the College’s IB provision. In deciding upon which subject to take, it does not matter which particular time period students have studied before, but students can only study one period of history. They can, however, combine History AS Level with other subject areas such as Archaeology, Classical Civilisations or Politics. Students will be mentored through the university admissions process for Historical subjects. The Department has a number of links with Higher Education providers, which gives up-to-date information about admissions procedure. Students from the Department are admitted to a wide range of HE institutions including Oxbridge.
The course explores the Crusades 1071-1204 and the Angevins 1154-1216, looking at various aspects of the Medieval world. The Crusades were events of great magnitude in the Middle Ages with repercussions for the 21st century. The Angevins, the ‘Devil’s Brood’, brought vast tracts of modern France under the control of the kings of England, from Henry II to his sons Richard the Lionheart and King John.
In the first year, the breadth study side of the course covers the idea of crusading, the First Crusade, establishment of the Crusader States and the Second Crusade. Crusading was a combination of the medieval pilgrimage and a war to ‘free’ Jerusalem from Muslim Seljuk control. The unprecedented success of the First Crusade in 1099 saw four Latin States develop in Outremer (the ‘land beyond the sea’), and the course looks at how these Frankish societies developed. The Second Crusade came about when the Muslim Counter-Crusade began with the fall of Edessa in 1144, but the failure of this crusade in 1148 severely dented Western European enthusiasm for crusading. This side of the course introduces students to the different interpretations of historians. The other side of the course, the depth study, looks at Henry II from his origins and accession to the throne in 1154, to his death in 1189 surrounded by a rebellious family. Henry II became the most powerful monarch in Western Europe, ruler of an Angevin ‘empire’ which stretched from Scotland to the Pyrenees. Yet his relations with family and friends were to seriously threaten his throne, from rebellious sons Richard and John, to the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and Henry’s one time greatest friend. This side of the course introduces the students to work with original source documents.
In the second year, students will continue with these two units. The Crusades breadth study begins with the Islamic Counter-Crusade, the establishment of jihad, and rise of Nur al Din and Saladin. It looks at the Third Crusade, the clash between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, and the aberration of the Fourth Crusade, where Catholic crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204, the greatest city in the Christian world. The depth study looks at the period 1189-1216, which saw Richard’s ten year reign as an absentee king, and John, arguably the worst monarch England ever had.
The Non-Exam Assessment (coursework) is completed in the second year. It offers students the chance to explore themes in history with a choice of the Vikings, Charlemagne, the Normans or Medieval warfare.
Modern History: Revolutions and Dictators
The course explores the creation of the Modern World through Revolution and Dictatorships. Revolutions and Dictatorships gives students a framework from which to understand the democratic society in which we live today through studying the political and cultural developments in nations such as Russia or Germany in the 20th century, and earlier British history. There are three components to the A level, two of which are assessed through written examinations and the other is a piece of coursework.
The first year follows the theme of revolution, looking at the overthrow of absolute monarchies. Students begin the breadth study which covers the hundred years that saw the transformation of Russia from an empire ruled by Tsars, who had absolute power, to the USSR, the first Marxist state, ruled by the Communist Party. The first part of the course looks at the reigns of the last three tsars and explores the reasons for the collapse of Tsardom, as well as the origins and consequences of the two Revolutions of 1917. The course will also introduce students to the various debates that exist between historians. The other half of the course is a depth study which explores the origins of Modern Britain through the English Revolution. In the first year, students learn about the attempt by Charles 1st to rule without Parliament and the series of crises which this provoked. The course looks at the social and cultural evolution of England, and examines the factors which would lead to war against the Scots and then a civil war. This part of the course makes use of original documents, so students will develop the skills needed to evaluate primary source material.
The second year of the course follows the theme of dictatorship and students continue both topics. The breadth study examines the dictatorships of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev, and raises the question of how much Russia was changed in the process of becoming the USSR. Was life for the soviet citizen so very different from life under the Tsars? The depth study investigates the reasons for the execution of Charles 1, the outbreak of the Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. The focus is on understanding the relationship between government and people.
The coursework, which is completed in the second year, extends the opportunities for exploring modern history through topics such as Germany from 1870 to 1991, India from 1857 to 1947, or Anglo British relations in Ireland.
Higher Level History is intended for students wishing to understand the key factors that shaped world history during the 20th century. It is aimed not only at students who intend to pursue history at university, but also at those who want to broaden their knowledge of the last 100 years and improve the skills required in research and writing analytical essays.
Please see the Course Details box on this page for links to downloadable subject information sheets.