11 Aug GCSE History
Why Study GCSE History?
One of the things I like about History is that it promotes creativity and discussion. As a researcher and a teacher, I think both are important. The freedom to interpret – and know it’s not written in stone – makes History emancipating. That does not mean it’s all made up. We study evidence and make a judgement based on that evidence. That History is rewritten is due to the discovery or release of new evidence and new perceptions as society changes. If you like to partake and create, History is a good subject for you.
I’ll discuss GCSE History because it’s the first step for future historians after the tasters given at Key Stages 2 and 3. I’ll use the EDEXCEL syllabus as an example, as it’s the largest exam board nationally, plus it’s widely studied abroad. However, many of the things mentioned here are applicable to other exam boards that all follow the government’s guidelines. I will not discuss the IGCSE, which has a slightly different structure. You can study it if you live outside the UK. Please contact me if you’d like to know more about the international version.
So, how and what will you study?
The course is divided into three parts, for which there are three exams:
Paper 1: Thematic Study (TS) and Historic Environment (HE)
One of the following options must be studied:
- Crime and punishment in Britain c. 1000–present (TS), and Whitechapel, c. 1870 – c. 1900: crime, policing and the inner city (HE)
- Medicine in Britain c. 1250–present (TS), and The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: injuries, treatment and the trenches (HE)
- Warfare and British society c. 1250–present (TS), and London and the Second World War, 1939–45 (HE)
- Migrants in Britain c. 800–present (TS), and Notting Hill, c. 1948–c1970 (HE)
The above options are very London-centric. If you want to avoid that, go for the option on medicine, if you have a choice.
Paper 2: Period study and British depth study
You need to study one period study and one British depth study. You can combine any depth study with any period study.
The depth study options are:
- Anglo-Saxon and Norman England, c1060–88
- The reigns of King Richard I and King John, 1189–1216
- Henry VIII and his ministers, 1509–40
- Early Elizabethan England, 1558–88
The period study choices are:
- Spain and the ‘New World’, c. 1490–c1555
- British America, 1713–83: empire and revolution
- The American West, c. 1835–c1895
- Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941–91
- Conflict in the Middle East, 1945–95
Paper 3: Modern depth study
You need to choose one option from:
- Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917–41
- Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918–39
- Mao’s China, 1945–76
- The USA, 1954–75: conflict at home and abroad
The GCSE tries to get a balance between British and international history. It also tries to cover political, economic, social and cultural aspects of History. It is a firm foundation for progression to either History A Level or IB courses. The above is an outline for quick reference. If you want to know more about the details, email me or send a chat message.
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