What is this subject about?

The course focuses on the changing American Presidency, from Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Reagan. It also explores changing rights of peoples over time – in America from the Civil War to Martin Luther King and civil rights, and the resistance to apartheid by Nelson Mandela and others in South Africa. This is contrasted with imperial domination across the world. By studying History, you learn about influential people and events in the past that have shaped the world in important ways.​​

What will I study over the two years?

In the first year you will study ‘In search of the American Dream: the USA, c.1917–96’, which includes President Nixon and the Watergate scandal, Kennedy’s assassination, anti-Vietnam protests, Martin Luther King and Civil Rights, Boom and Bust in the 1920s and 30s America, growth in consumerism and popular culture and media. You will also look in depth at ‘South Africa, 1948-1994, apartheid state to rainbow nation’, which includes resistance to apartheid, life in South Africa, the Soweto Uprising, Steve Biko, the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela.

In the second year you will explore ‘Britain: losing and gaining an Empire, 1763–1914’ which includes the American War of Independence, the Indian mutiny, the Suez canal in Egypt, the abolition of slavery, the scramble for Africa and British naval superiority. For coursework you will research interpretations of the reasons for the abolition of the Slave Trade in Britain in 1807.

How is the course assessed?

Assessment is 80% by examination and 20% coursework. The coursework is written in the second year. The three exam papers consist of extended writing in the form of full essay responses, source analysis and historical interpretation.

What skills will I need and develop on this course?

A wide range of skills are developed during the study of history including processing and analysing information, evaluating evidence, research and investigation. You will learn to argue effectively and intelligently, while empathising with and understanding the context of the lives of people in the past. You also learn about how to find things out and how to evaluate and criticise arguments, interpretations and ideas.


​What can the course lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

History is excellent preparation for a large variety of degree courses, including History, Law, English, and Politics. A very wide range of career options are open to history students including Journalism and the Media, Publishing, the Civil Service, Local Government, Education, Business (manufacturing, retailing and other services), the Armed Forces and many other opportunities. Studying History broadens the mind and gives you valuable research, communication and analytical skills which employers and universities really value.

Entry Requirements

What are the formal entry requirements for this course?

Aside from the general criteria that the college requires, you will need to achieve a minimum of:

• Grade 4 in GCSE English Language

• Grade 4 in GCSE History

You may still be accepted if you did not study History for GCSE provided you can show evidence of good academic achievement in other subjects.

Extra Support

What extra support/enrichment activities are on offer?

The department run a ‘Past Paper Club’ offering additional support on essay writing and historical interpretation. Through ‘History Extra’ teachers give talks on relevant topics and bespoke skills clinics are run offering guidance on specific criteria. The department also run peer support groups and a range of external speakers are organised each year.

The department offers a residential trip to America, and there are opportunities for workshops, conferences and London museum visits.

Subject combination advice

Subject combination advice:

History is a firm foundation for many academic courses and career choices, highly valued by universities and employers for its strong academic base and the communication and analytical skills it develops. It works well with most subjects, with no prohibited combinations. It combines particularly well with Sociology, Politics, Economics, Classics, Philosophy, English, Modern Languages and Psychology.​​​​