History (Democracies in Change)


Bob Marley once said that you needed to know your history to know where you are coming from, and so the study of past societies, ideas and events helps us understand the modern world. At Cirencester College we think history is so important that we offer the widest choice of A-level anywhere in the region: whatever history you have studied at school or have a personal interest in, there is something for you here. In many parts of the world, democracy is under threat. This course focuses on how two of the leading democratic countries developed during the 20th century. The first explores the huge range of political, social, economic and cultural changes in Britain that took place as a result of major events such as the two World Wars, while your second unit explores the boom, bust and recovery period of the USA, from the glamourous years of the 1920s to the rock and roll years of the early 1950s.

What will I study in History (Democracies in Change)?

This pathway gives students the chance to study the political history of two of the major democratic powers of the 20th Century: Britain and the USA.  The 20th century was a period of massive upheavals, both politically and socially, and so this pathway offers students the chance to examine in great detail how the events of the century impacted ordinary people's lives.  It also provides context for students studying politics as it provides context for our own century and the issues that still dominate our lives.

For Paper 1 you will study the extent to which Britain was transformed politically, socially, economically and culturally in the years 1918–79. You will consider responses to the challenges of war, fluctuations in the economy, technological advancement and the desire for greater social equality.  The special focus for this pathway will examine historical interpretations of the impact Thatcher’s governments had on Britain between 1979–97.

Paper 2 focuses on the USA in the years 1955–92, from post-1945 affluence, through racial and political protests in the 1960s, to the rise of right-wing groups in the 1980s and the development of bitter divisions between Democrats and Republicans. This paper has a source focus, requiring you to examine the ways historians use contemporary sources as part of historical enquiries.

For the 3rd paper, students will have the following choice: Protest, Agitation and Parliamentary Reform1780-1928 or Rebellion and Disorder under the Tudors 1485-1603.  However, it is important to note that these choices will have some limitations and will need to be made by May half term of year 1. The implications will be explained at this point.

Finally, there is a non-examined assessment or coursework, the purpose of which is to enable history students to develop skills in the analysis and evaluation of interpretations of history in a chosen question, problem or issue as part of an independently researched assignment.  Students will be required to form a critical view of an area of historical debate based on relevant reading on the question, problem or issue. Students at Cirencester have the freedom to complete a centre set assignment, based on one of their three examined papers, or they may choose their own topic to research. This offers those students the chance to go beyond the exam specification and really explore a period of history that is interesting to them.  Those who choose a centre-set question will also benefit, as their study will take them deeper into and beyond what the exam requires, and they often emerge more confident and with a better understanding of the exam topics. 

Entry Requirements

At least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above all from the basket subjects. It is not necessary to have studied GCSE History, though this is advised. If students have taken GCSE History, you must have achieved a Grade 4 or above to take A-level History.

How will I learn?

The course will use a variety of different teaching methods ranging from lectures and discussions, to student presentations and individual research. The lecturers aim to bridge the gap between school and university so there is an emphasis on encouraging students to think for themselves. There is a high expectation for students to participate in all sessions.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is through three examinations at the end of the course as well as a coursework module in the second year:

Paper 1: 2 hours 15 mins during which time you will answer two essay questions and one historical interpretations question.

Paper 2: 1 hour 30 mins during which time you will answer one essay question and one primary source analysis question.

Paper 3: 2 hours 15 mins during which time you will answer two essay questions and a primary source analysis question.

The coursework assesses historical interpretations and is between 3, 000 and 4, 000 words.

Any trips?

There is the opportunity to travel to the Houses of Parliament, together with visits to the British Museum, and sites of local interest.  There is also potential to run a trip to the USA, and visit Washington.  We have also taken part in student conferences with the National Archives and the University of Gloucestershire.

Are there any costs involved?

You should expect some small costs for course booklets and stationery.  If trips are arranged, these will also require costs for transport and entry fees, but we will do our best to keep this to a minimum.


What work experience opportunities are there?

We have had students undertaking work placements in History departments within local schools.  This has proven to be invaluable for those wishing to enter the teaching profession.

What enrichment activities are offered?

We run a History Society as part of the College's enrichment programme. This is run by our students, who take turns to present a short lecture on a period or event of history that interests them. Our lecturers also take part, allowing us to reveal what led us to a study of History.

Will I have to write lots of essays?

Essay writing is one of the very valuable skills we teach you at A-Level History. There are fewer different question types at A-level than at GCSE. We will teach you techniques for writing essays which develop the skills you already have. You won’t have to do one every week.

Will A-Level History help me to get a place at university?

Yes it will. The specification has been designed by exam boards in close consultation with universities. It is therefore a highly-regarded qualification which universities particularly value on UCAS applications. History is named a ‘facilitating’ subject by the Russell Group of universities, meaning that it is a subject that universities particularly look for on applications for a wide range of different courses (not just History courses). A good grade in History at A-Level will make you stand out as a strong candidate when applying for university, whatever subject you choose to study.

What jobs do people with qualifications in History go on to do?

History is an interesting and worthwhile subject which broadens your understanding of the contemporary world and your analytical skills. By the time you complete your A-Level in History, you will be able to write, argue, persuade, debate, process information, weigh up evidence, reach and present conclusions. These skills are highly prized by employers in a very wide range of fields, including business, management, journalism and the media, law, politics and the civil service, economics, finance and accounting, the arts, tourism and heritage.

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

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What can I do after I have taken this course?

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

Add to Application

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