History - Sixth Form

History is a very popular course at A Level for which History GCSE is not a requirement.

At A Level the two course options available allow pupils to foster their particular interests either through a more Medieval focused programme of study or through an exclusively Modern course. In the Sixth Form teaching is above all informed by a deeply ingrained conviction that History not only inspires the life of the imagination, but that it has an invaluable social purpose. In our present conflict-laden political environment, often framed by the misunderstood resonances of the past, from the Crusades to the legacy of the Second World War, the distant past is still an active political player. In this light, teaching is directed towards encouraging that most problematic but politically necessary of aims, the study of the past in its own terms.

During the Sixth Form there is a focused concern to help all pupils achieve to the very best of their abilities, through scholarly and carefully differentiated teaching, considerable extra help beyond the classroom, and a carefully designed programme of extra-curricular academic activities.


Dr Damian Kerney

Head of History

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About the Curriculum

The Department offers two options for pupils as they work towards the Edexcel History A Level (9H10).

  1. The principally Medieval course aims to provide a breadth and variety of historical study. It explores England’s distinctive political, social, economic and cultural development during the Middle Ages within its wider continental context; the study of the Crusades (c 1095-1204) and the Golden Age of Spain (1474-1598) examine significant forces shaping our contemporary geopolitical climate.

    On this course, for the linear 2-year A Level the Lower Sixth will study a course programme which can also lead to an AS Level qualification:
  • Option 1A: The Crusades, c 1095-1204
  • Option 2 A.1: Anglo-Saxon England and the Anglo-Norman Kingdom, c 1053-1106

    In the Upper Sixth, the pupils will study:
  • Option 32: The Golden Age of Spain, 1474-1598
  • Coursework 9H10/04: The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy
  1. The alternative Modern History course is focused upon the events of the last 200 years, encompassing Britain’s complex relationship with Ireland, as well as key 20th century historical developments involving the major European powers. The aim is to provide an extensive understanding of the events which have created today’s world.

    On this course, for the linear 2 year A Level the Lower Sixth will study a course programme which can also lead to an AS Level qualification:
  • Option 1G: Germany and West Germany, 1918-89
  • Option 2 G.1: The rise and fall of fascism in Italy, c 1911-46

    In the Upper Sixth, the pupils will study:
  • Option 36.2: Ireland, and the Union, c 1774-1923
  • Coursework 9H10/04: The Origins of the First World War

Learning approach

The Department embraces and encourages a range of teaching styles, all sustained by a commitment to nurture success through active, independent engagement in learning by all students. In a subject in which fluency of written argument is essential to success, evening schools are used to foster sophistication of written work grounded in independent research. Well-read independence of thought is also encouraged through the Lower Sixth ‘Heresy Project’, historical research towards the Extended Project Qualification and a longstanding tradition of successful entries to Oxbridge History essay prizes. Class discussion is encouraged, hard work is cultivated and regular marking is directed towards serving and assessing the differentiated needs of each individual student. The Department also fosters a broad intellectual hinterland beyond the limits of the examination criteria, through wider reading, discussion and extra-curricular lectures, visits, seminars and student talks.


There is a carefully tailored enrichment programme within the Department to extend all Sixth Form historians, including the very brightest. This is achieved by carefully differentiated teaching, extending bright students by carefully directed questioning, marking and suggestions for further reading. It is also achieved by active support for, and contributions to, the Scholars’ programmes throughout the school. It is also ensured through the Department’s extensive range of extra-curricular activities designed to extend pupils’ experience and understanding of the subject. Above all, this is true of the essay prize preparation, the student papers delivered to the school’s History Societies, the weekly seminars in the Sixth Form, and the range of lectures and off-site academic visits arranged. The Department is very proud of its consistent high achievement in Oxbridge prize essay competitions. A constant eye is also kept on potential opportunities to serve the particular needs of individual students, whilst gifted historians are served by the intensive university preparation course.


The Department offers an intensive preparation for the requirements of university. It begins at the close of the Lower Sixth, followed by a weekly seminar in the Advent Term of the Upper Sixth to prepare for university entrance requirements. There is also an intensive programme of weekly preparation for the demands of Oxbridge entrance, including the Oxford History Aptitude Test and new Cambridge History Entrance Exam. Close ties are fostered with OLs who have achieved History places at university. In addition, close ties have been fostered between the Department and universities to help our students in their applications. Indeed, the History Department is proud of its consistent success in helping students to secure History places at the most competitive universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, and of the skills it embeds and opportunities it provides for historians to develop diverse and successful careers beyond university.