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Bob Marley once said that you needed to know your history to know where you are coming from. The study of past societies, ideas and events can help 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. There are four pathways to choose from.
If you enjoy modern history but want to look at some different topics from your GCSE then this could be the course for you. It focuses on struggles that led eventually to greater democracy in two European nations. The first unit looks at the turbulent years in Italy that saw the collapse of the liberal state, the creation of Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship and a return to democracy in the aftermath of the Second World War. The second explores the struggles of ordinary people in 19th and early 20th century Britain for the right to vote, decent wages and greater freedom.
This pathway allows students to continue their exploration of 20th C fascist political systems. This tumultuous period, which lasted only 1 generation, had a major impact on the outcomes of the rest of the century, with war and violent upheaval being a marker of world events. We offer some balance by choosing to study the development of democracy in Britain as a comparison marker, particularly asking the question why Britain did not undergo a similar period.
For paper 1 you will study Germany 1918-1989: this option comprises a study in breadth and in depth, in which students will learn about key political changes experienced in a unified Germany and then in West Germany after the Second World War, and the impact of these changes on German economic, social and cultural developments. In addition, you will be required to engage critically with historical interpretations, focusing on Hitler’s foreign policy and to what extent this was responsible for WW2.
Paper 2 sees you studying the Rise and Fall of Fascism in Italy 1911-46. This module comprises a study in depth of the turbulent years in Italy that saw the collapse of the liberal state, the creation of a fascist dictatorship and a return to democracy in the aftermath of the Second World War. This paper has a source focus, requiring you to examine the ways historians use contemporary sources as part of historical enquiries.
For paper 3 you will examine the topic of Protest, Agitation and Parliamentary Reform between 1780-1928. We will analyse and explore the relationship between authority and mass agitation in England, the struggle for greater representation in England, and the ways in which the interests and concerns of individuals in society could make themselves known. This paper also has a source element, asking you to evaluate the utility of a contemporary source to answer two linked enquiries.
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.
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 potential opportunity to travel to Italy or Germany, together with visits to the British Museum, Tower of London and sites of local interest. 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.
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
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.
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.
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 as 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.
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.
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