A Level History

History at A level is consistently one of the most popular choices for students studying A levels at Polesworth.

Should you wish to study History, you will be immersed in a wide-ranging and hugely interesting curriculum that is delivered by passionate historians who believe in challenging students and developing young people into becoming historians themselves. You will have the expertise of two teachers as we specialise in separate fields and deliver two modules concurrently. You could be introduced to the challenges facing King John in one lesson and then be assessing the moral implications of dropping the atomic bombs in the next! We will get you thinking about a range of events and perspectives to reach your own independent judgments. Our belief is that students leave a History lesson feeling energised for the next and our student responses reflect that.

There is no need to have studied History at GCSE in order to do A level. The periods studied are completely different and no knowledge is required. So if you couldn’t take History at GCSE because of limited options you will be more than welcome at A level.

Results are consistently good and students enjoy their lessons which are all taught by a team of fully qualified, experienced A’ level teachers.

Student Views

Sarah Moss, who has just completed her studies gaining a grade A, said of her time studying history:
“I feel privileged to have been asked to write a few lines about the study of history at Polesworth, but disappointed that I haven’t been asked to write 3000 words, such was my enthusiasm for the subject that I could never stop writing!

History at Polesworth gave me the opportunity to develop and extend my interests in the subject across a broad spectrum of topics and approaches. The programme takes maximum advantage of a range and breadth of different fields, covering both European and British History, within which I gained insight into many different themes including, political, social, economic and cultural aspects. The course offers the chance of an in-depth study, which allowed me to conduct independent research into a particular topic of interest to me, which in my opinion, was a key part of the learning experience that I acquired during my time at Polesworth.

I was taught and advised by staff at the very cutting edge of their subjects, who expressed enthusiasm and passion for their subject which inspired me to take my interest in history further, and thanks to the fantastic teaching and support I received from the History department at Polesworth I am a few weeks into reading for a degree in the subject at Manchester University. I am sure that everybody studying History at Polesworth will experience a rewarding two years of enjoyable study and excellent teaching.”

“Regardless of whether you took a history GCSE or not, A-Level history provides a fun challenge and a new outlook on what education can be for you. Lessons are constantly engaging and provide a safe space where students, like myself, can develop our crucial life skills, such as critical thinking, confidence in speaking, and a comprehensive understanding of source analysis – all skills which will go on to serve you well as your further yourself. All the teachers are wonderful at what they do and really bring the content alive – which is something rare but valued in todays world. Honestly, taking A-Level history is a choice that you will not regret and I am certain you will enjoy every moment of the subject.” (Stephen Andrews)

What you will study

Our examination board is OCR and we are assessed on the History A components. A full guide can be found on the link below.


Unit One – England 1199–1272.

We begin this exciting time in English History by studying the ‘evil’ King John and discover that this view of him is highly debatable.  The fact is that much of the evidence that remains about him was written by monks at a time when he was in conflict with the Church.

We look at the Civil War between John and the Barons that led to the Magna Carta. From this we look at the rule of Henry II and the second Civil War between the Monarchy and the Barons.  Our course all takes us through the reign of John’s son Henry III and the challenges he faced trying to secure the French throne. From reforms to the royal government to the baronial revolt of the mercurial Simon de Montfort, this unit is packed with significant moments.

This was a period that shaped the nature of the Middle Ages and indeed still influences how our country works today, and the rights we enjoy.

Unit Two -The Cold War in Europe 1941- 1995

In Unit two we come up to date and look at the events that shaped the world we have now.

We begin by looking at relations between the Soviet Union and the West during the World War II and then move on to look at how relations deteriorated, taking the World to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

We will study the building and the destruction of the Berlin wall, crises in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia, the space race and the final collapse of Communism in the East.

The trials of the modern world from the wars in Bosnia and the Middle East to the role of the UN in Africa to the relationship with modern-day Russia are shaped by the tribulations of the Cold War period. In spite of our course focusing on Europe, we will still explore the wider world problems in Cuba, Suez and Afghanistan. We will assess the position of states in the global sphere, examining the pre-war isolationism of the USA to the later interventionism that has characterised the actions of the White House since. We will consider the reasons for such a global ideological schism and what may, ultimately, have come from it.

Unit Three – Tudor Rebellions.

As a contrast to the other two units we will examine the Tudors and their relationships with the people they ruled, and why they faced so many rebellions.  We will discover why rebellions declined and England became a more peaceful place. As we study this period we will look at the dynastic challenges to the Tudors from people such as Mary Queen of Scots, challenges to the religious changes of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and threats from abroad.

The Tudor period was to have a huge impact on the position of Britain in the Early Modern World and the periods of disruption mark some of the most significant moments in the history of these shores. The removal of the last Yorkist king in Richard III heralded an end to the Wars of the Roses that had defined the previous thirty years, but still led to the attempt of two pretenders to the throne, both of humble origin, to try and take back control on behalf of the usurped family. The Break from Rome led to 40,000 people, from a panoply of backgrounds, marching south and seizing control of the ‘Gateway to the North’ in Pontefract Castle. The marginalisation of catholic and dispossessed Earls under Elizabeth created crises that could have changed the religious and political direction of the country for the long term. This is, we believe, an incredibly interesting examination of the Tudor period from both the rulers and the ruled.

Unit 4 – Coursework.

In addition the course will give you the opportunity to look into one area of history in more depth. The coursework will consist of 3000-4000 words and be focused on a topic that you choose after consultation with your teacher. This could be a more detailed look at one aspect of history studied in one of the other units or growing from that unit, for example the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Spanish Armada, Mary Queen of Scots or Magna Carta. Alternatively you could choose to study a topic not covered in the course such as the Suffragettes or Hitler’s Germany.

What Can You Do With A Level History?

History at A level is an interesting and challenging subject which is well regarded academically by employers and ALL universities. Former students have pursued a wide range of different courses and careers.

History goes well with other arts and social science subjects like Politics, English, Geography or Religious Studies. History is also one of the most popular choices of scientists looking to add a little breadth to their Sixth Form programme through their fourth AS.

With a qualification in History, you can go on to work in a great variety of jobs in law, business and administration, the police service, the armed forces, journalism and the media, leisure and tourism (as well as more ‘obvious’ History-related careers like teaching or working in museums or libraries).

This is a broad course with elements that should be interesting to anyone with an interest in History. For more details speak to your History teacher or any of us in the department.