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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 upon 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.
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 on 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.
At least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above all from the core 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.
The course will use a variety of different teaching methods ranging from lectures and discussions, through 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 on students to participate in all sessions.
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.
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.
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.
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