Departmental approach to the curriculum

History education at Rickmansworth School will help all students gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. We aim to inspire students’ curiosity to know more about the past. Students will ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. Rickmansworth School history aims to develop students to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as students' own identities and the challenges of their time.

History at Rickmansworth School aims to ensure that all students know and understand: 

  • the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day; how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
  • significant aspects of the history of the wider world, including the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires
  • characteristic features of past non-European societies
  • achievements and follies of mankind.

Studying history will also allow students to:

  • gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’
  • understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
  • understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
  • gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history, as well as between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history, and between short- and long-term timescales

At GCSE, we follow the Edexcel (9-1) History syllabus. This course comprises of four topics and three written exams at the end of the year. As part of the course we offer a four day residential trip to Berlin. After GCSE, students go on to study A Level history and follow the Edexcel history syllabus. This course comprises of three topics, three written exams, and a submitted piece of coursework. As part of the course we offer a residential trip the New York, Washington and Philadelphia.


Year 7

Students often join Rickmansworth School with a varied experience of History at primary school. Therefore the curriculum has been designed to offer an accessible and varied range of subject matter. Students follow an enquiry based method of teaching where they are assessed at the end of each enquiry. These historical enquiries focus on key historical skills such as; the use of historical evidence, source analysis, cause and consequence, change and continuity, significance, interpretations, and framing historical questions. Assessments take the form of end of enquiry tests which further develop students historical skills, along with their summer exams.

Students begin their studies at Rickmansworth school by learning about culture and civilisations from the Iron Age through to the Middle Ages to bridge gaps in students prior understanding, before deciding which Age had the largest impact on British Society. Students then move on to examine the reasons why William the Conqueror was victorious at the Battle of Hastings, and how he was able to keep control following this. Continuing chronologically through the Middle Ages, students will undergo an enquiry examining the Black Death and the Peasants Revolt, and decide which had the larger impact upon society and its social structure. Student’s will then focus on the significance of Jerusalem and the events of the third crusade, before concluding whether Saladin deserves his reputation as a hero. Students finish year 7 by examining the changes brought about to British Society by Henry VIII following his split from Rome.

Year 8

Students begin Year 8 by building on their interpretation skills, in particular, with regard to how historians have interpreted Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War and Britain’s brief Republic. In Year 8 students will also study Britain’s wider role in the world in greater depth, examining Britain’s role in the slave trade, and its legacy, as well as the Civil Rights movement in America and its legacy up until the modern day. Students will tie off their historical enquiries into Britain’s role in the wider world by examining the causes behind Indian independence in 1947. Students will then move on to study British democracy, and the significance of female suffrage and of the suffragette movement before concluding Year 8 studying the causes of the First World War. 

Year 9

In Year 9 history students continue to build on their historical skills learnt throughout KS3 and apply these to the study of modern 20th Century history. Students will have to decide this year what options they wish to study at GCSE. Throughout KS3 history, students will have laid the foundations for the historical skills, examination skills, and subject content for the GCSE, and as such our KS3 curriculum provides students with a sense of what is to be expected at GCSE.  Students begin year 9 by using their skills of historical interpretation to determine whether Sir General Douglas Haig deserves his reputation as a ‘butcher’ for his role played in the Battle of the Somme. Students will then embark on an enquiry into the causes of the Russian Revolution and the bigger conceptual ideas of republicanism and communism. Following this students examine the short lived peace between World War One and Two, and question how inevitable the Second World War was. When studying World War Two students will analyse the experiences of all the major countries involved, not just Britain, and the extent to which those countries experienced a ‘total war’. Students are fortunate enough to study the Holocaust and have a Holocaust survivor come into school and deliver their testimony. Students will frame their own historical enquiry on the holocaust to answer before concluding year 9 by studying the key events of the Cold War and the causes behind the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 in the summer term. 

Year 10 and 11

In studying GCSE History, students will; develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British, and wider world history; and of the wide diversity of human experience, engage in historical enquiry to develop as independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers, develop the ability to ask relevant questions about the past, to investigate issues critically and to make valid historical claims by using a range of sources in their historical context, develop an awareness of why people, events and developments have been accorded historical significance and how and why different interpretations have been constructed about them, organise and communicate their historical knowledge


Please see the long term overview for what is studied in each year.


Exam Board: Edexcel


Subject Content

Examined Topic One: Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918-39 (30% Total GCSE)

Key topic 1.1 The origins of the Republic, 1918–19

  • The legacy of the First World War. The abdication of the Kaiser, the armistice and revolution, 1918–19 

  • The setting up of the Weimar Republic. The strengths and weaknesses of the new Constitution. 

Key topic 1.2 The early challenges to the Weimar Republic, 1919–23

  • Reasons for the early unpopularity of the Republic, including the ‘stab in the back’ theory and the key terms of the Treaty of Versailles. 

  • Challenges to the Republic Left and Right: Spartacists, Freikorps, the Kapp Putsch. 

  • The challenges of 1923: hyperinflation; the reasons for, and effects of, the French occupation of the Ruhr. 

Key topic 1.3 The recovery of the Republic, 1924–29

  • Reasons for economic recovery, including the work of Stresemann, the Rentenmark, the Dawes and Young Plans and American loans and investment.

  • The impact on domestic policies of Stresemann’s achievements abroad: the Locarno Pact, joining the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. 

Key topic 1.4 Changes in society, 1924–29

  • Changes in the standard of living, including wages, housing, unemployment insurance.

  • Changes in the position of women in work, politics and leisure.

  • Cultural changes, including developments in architecture, art, literature and the cinema.

Key topic 2.1 Early development of the Nazi Party, 1920–22

  • Hitler’s early career: joining the German Workers’ Party and setting up the Nazi Party, 1919–20.

  • The early growth and features of the Party. The Twenty-Five Point Programme. The role of the SA. 

Key topic 2.2 The Munich Putsch and the lean years, 1923–29

  • The reasons for, events and consequences of the Munich Putsch. 

  • Reasons for limited support for the Nazi Party, 1924–28. Party reorganisation and Mein Kampf. The Bamberg Conference of 1926. 

Key topic 2.3 The growth in support for the Nazis, 1929–32

  • The growth of unemployment – its causes and impact. The failure of successive Weimar governments to deal with unemployment from 1929 to January 1933. The growth of support for the Communist Party.

  • The reasons for growth of support for the Nazi Party, including the appeal of Hitler and the Nazis, the effects of propaganda and the work of the SA. 

Key topic 2.4 How Hitler became Chancellor, 1932–33

  • Political developments in 1932. The roles of Hindenburg, Brüning, von Papen and von Schleicher. 

  • The part played by Hindenburg and von Papen in Hitler becoming Chancellor in 1933. 

Key topic 3.1 The creation of a dictatorship, 1933–34

  • The Reichstag Fire. The Enabling Act and the banning of other parties and trade unions. 

  • The threat from Röhm and the SA, the Night of the Long Knives and the death of von Hindenburg. Hitler becomes Führer, the army and oath of allegiance. 

Key topic 3.2 The police state

  • The role of the Gestapo, the SS, the SD and concentration camps. 

  • Nazi control of the legal system, judges and law courts. 

  • Nazi policies towards the Catholic and Protestant Churches, including the Reich Church and the Concordat.

Key topic 3.3 Controlling and influencing attitudes

  • Goebbels and the Ministry of Propaganda: censorship. Nazi use of media, rallies and sport, including the Berlin Olympics of 1936. 

  • Nazi control of culture and the arts, including art, architecture, literature and film. 

Key topic 3.4 Opposition, resistance and conformity

  • The extent of support for the Nazi regime. 

  • Opposition from the Churches, including the role of Pastor Niemöller. 

  • Opposition from the young, including the Swing Youth and the Edelweiss pirates. 

Key topic 4.1 Nazi policies towards women

  • Nazi views on women and the family. 

  • Nazi policies towards women, including marriage and family, employment and appearance. 

Key topic 4.2 Nazi policies towards the young

  • Nazi aims and policies towards the young. The Hitler Youth and the League of Maidens. 

  • Nazi control of the young through education, including the curriculum and teachers. 

Key topic 4.3 Employment and living standards

  • Nazi policies to reduce unemployment, including labour service, autobahns, rearmament and invisible unemployment.  

  • Changes in the standard of living, especially of German workers. The Labour Front, Strength Through Joy, Beauty of Labour.

Key topic 4.4 The persecution of minorities

  • Nazi racial beliefs and policies and the treatment of minorities: Slavs, ‘gypsies’, homosexuals and those with disabilities.

  • The persecution of the Jews, including the boycott of Jewish shops and businesses (1933), the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht.


Examined Topic Two: Conflict in the Middle East, 1945-95 (20% Total GCSE)

Key topic 1.1 The British withdrawal and the creation of Israel

  • Conflicting interests and demands of Jews and Arabs within the British Mandate.

  • Key events leading to the end of the British Mandate, partition and the creation of Israel, including the significance of the bombing of the King David Hotel and UN Resolution 181.

  • Key events of the Arab-Israeli war, 1948–49.

Key topic 1.2 Aftermath of the 1948–49 war

  • Territorial changes and their impact. The refugee status of Palestinian Arabs.

  • The creation of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Law of Return. US aid to Israel.

  • Israel’s relations with Egypt.

Key topic 1.3 Increased tension, 1955–63

  • Nasser and Egypt’s leadership of the Arab world.

  • The events and significance of Israeli attacks on Gaza in 1955 and Sinai in 1956.

  • The events and significance of the Suez crisis, including the formation of the UAR in 1958.

Key topic 2.1 The Six Day War, 1967

  • The significance of the Cairo conference, 1964. Escalating tension between Israel, Syria and Jordan: Syria’s support for Fatah, Israel’s raid on Samu and events of 7 April 1967.

  • The actions of the USSR, Nasser and the USA in the period leading to war.

  • Key events of the war.

Key topic 2.2 Aftermath of the 1967 war

  • UN Resolution 242 and continued dispute over the Suez Canal.

  • Palestinian refugees and the significance of the occupied territories: Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Sinai and East Jerusalem.

  • The use of terrorism, Israel’s response and international attitudes towards the Palestine issue: the PFLP airplane hijacks of 1970; Black September and the Munich Olympics. The expulsion of the PLO from Jordan, 1970.

Key topic 2.3 Israel and Egypt,  1967–73

  • Egyptian relations with Israel, the USA, the USSR and Arab states. 

  • Israeli consolidation of control of the occupied territories. 

  • Key events of the Yom Kippur War, 1973, and its aftermath.

Key topic 3.1 Diplomatic negotiations

  • The significance of the oil crisis and the involvement of the USA and the USSR.

  • Kissinger, ‘shuttle diplomacy’ and the reopening of the Suez Canal.

  • Sadat’s visit to Israel (1977), Begin’s visit to Egypt (1977), US President Carter and Camp David (1978) and the Treaty of Washington 1979.

Key topic 3.2 The Palestinian issue 

  • Arafat’s speech to the UN (1974). The significance of PLO activities in Lebanon.

  • Israeli reprisals, the invasion of Lebanon, 1982, and the results.

  • The Israeli occupied territories and the Palestinian Intifada, 1987–93.

Key topic 3.3 Attempts at a solution

  • The significance of Arafat’s renunciation of terrorism in a speech at the UN, 1988. 

  • Changing superpower policies in the Middle East: US involvement in the Gulf War, 1991, and the end of the Cold War. 

  • Arafat, Rabin and the Oslo Accord (1993), Israel-Jordan peace treaty (1994), Oslo II (1995).


Examined Topic Three: The reigns of King Richard I and King John, 1189 - 1216 

Key topic 1.1 The feudal system

  • The feudal hierarchy and the nature of feudalism (landholding, homage, knight service, labour service); forfeiture.

  • The role and influence of the Church.

Key topic 1.2 Kingship and succession

  • The nature of kingship: duties, rights, rituals, display.

  • Richard I as king: his claim to the throne; how power was secured; his character.

  • John as king: his claim to the throne; how power was secured and the murder of Prince Arthur; John’s character.

Key topic 1.3 Royal government and finances 

  • How England was governed when Richard was absent, 1189–99, and during King John’s continued presence in England, 1199–1216.

  • Royal revenues: the royal demesne and the role of sheriffs in collecting revenues; feudal incidents; scutage; taxes on moveables and income in 1207.

Key topic 1.4 English society

  • The nature of agriculture and peasant life.

  • Towns: life in towns; their role in the economy.

  • Jews in Medieval England: legal status; role in moneylending; antisemitism; the causes and extent of the pogroms of 1189–90, including the significance of the coronation of Richard I; royal exploitation via taxes.

Key topic 2.1 The nature of crusading

  • The concept of crusade; the immediate causes of the Third Crusade.

  • The nature of the English crusading army: who they were, why they went.

  • Attitudes in England to the crusaders.

Key topic 2.2 Richard, the Crusader King

  • Richard’s motives for involvement in the Third Crusade; his quarrel with Philip II.

  • Richard’s military victories at Acre and Arsuf.

  • The failure to recapture Jerusalem.

Key topic 2.3 Aftermath of the crusade

  • Richard’s return from the Holy Land.

  • Richard’s capture, the ransom and its burden on England.

Key topic 2.4 Richard, John and the loss of Normandy

  • The competing aims of Richard and John and Phillip II in Normandy.

  • Richard and Chateau Gaillard: its cost and importance.

  • John and the fall of Chateau Gaillard; the loss of Normandy, 1204.

Key topic 3.1 The dispute with the Papacy

  • Causes of the dispute.

  • The Interdict and its impact on everyday life.

  • The significance of the reconciliation between John and Innocent III.

Key topic 3.2 Worsening relations with the barons

  • Growing financial impositions to raise money for war with France: taxation and ‘fines’; the use of arbitrary power.

  • The plot of 1212.

  • The impact of the failure to regain Normandy in 1214.

Key topic 3.3 Magna Carta and the First Barons’ War

  • The rebellion of 1215: Northampton, Lincoln, the march on London.

  • Runnymede: the motives of the barons and the main provisions of Magna Carta.

  • The outbreak of war: the taking and siege of Rochester; the invasion of Prince Louis.

Key Topic 3.4 The succession

  • The problem of the succession.

  • The role of William Marshal as Protector.

  • The condition of England by 1216.


Examined Topic Four: Medicine in Britain, c1250 - present and The British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: surgery and treatment

c1250–c1500: Medicine in medieval England

  • Supernatural and religious explanations of the cause of disease.

  • Rational explanations: the Theory of the Four Humours and the miasma theory; the continuing influence of Hippocrates and Galen.

  • Approaches to prevention and treatment and their connection with ideas about disease and illness: religious actions, bloodletting and purging, purifying the air, and the use of remedies.

  • New and traditional approaches to hospital care in the thirteenth century. The role of the physician, apothecary and barber surgeon in treatment and care provided within the community and in hospitals, c1250–1500.

  • Dealing with the Black Death, 1348–49; approaches to treatment and attempts to prevent its spread.

c1500–c1700: The Medical Renaissance in England

  • Continuity and change in explanations of the cause of disease and illness. A scientific approach, including the work of Thomas Sydenham in improving diagnosis. The influence of the printing press and the work of the Royal Society on the transmission of ideas.

  • Continuity in approaches to prevention, treatment and care in the community and in hospitals.

  • Change in care and treatment: improvements in medical training and the influence in England of the work of Vesalius. 

  • Key individual: William Harvey and the discovery of the circulation of the blood.

  • Dealing with the Great Plague in London, 1665: approaches to treatment and attempts to prevent its spread.

c1700–c1900: Medicine in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain

  • Continuity and change in explanations of the cause of disease and illness. The influence in Britain of Pasteur’s Germ Theory and Koch’s work on microbes.

  • The extent of change in care and treatment: improvements in hospital care and the influence of Nightingale. The impact of anaesthetics and antiseptics on surgery.

  • New approaches to prevention: the development and use of vaccinations and the Public Health Act 1875.

  • Key individual: Jenner and the development of vaccination.

  • Fighting Cholera in London, 1854; attempts to prevent its spread; the significance of Snow and the Broad Street Pump.

c1900–present: Medicine in modern Britain

  • Advances in understanding the causes of illness and disease: the influence of genetic and lifestyle factors on health.

  • Improvements in diagnosis: the impact of the availability of blood tests, scans and monitors.

  • The extent of change in care and treatment. The impact of the NHS and science and technology: improved access to care; advances in medicines, including magic bullets and antibiotics; high-tech medical and surgical treatment in hospitals.

  • New approaches to prevention: mass vaccinations and government lifestyle campaigns.

  • Key Individuals: Fleming, Florey and Chain’s development of penicillin. 

  • The fight against lung cancer in the twenty-first century: the use of science and technology in diagnosis and treatment; government action.

The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: surgery and treatment

  • The context of the British sector of Western Front and the theatre of war in Flanders and northern France: the Ypres salient, the Somme, Arras and Cambrai. The trench system - its construction and organisation, including frontline and support trenches. The use of mines at Hill 60 near Ypres and the expansion of tunnels, caves and quarries at Arras. Significance for medical treatment of the nature of the terrain and problems of the transport and communications infrastructure. 

  • Conditions requiring medical treatment on the Western Front, including the problems of ill health arising from the trench environment. The nature of wounds from rifles and explosives. The problem of shrapnel, wound infection and increased numbers of head injuries. The effects of gas attacks.

  • The work of the RAMC and FANY. The system of transport: stretcher bearers, horse and motor ambulances. The stages of treatment areas: aid post and field ambulance, dressing station, casualty clearing station, base hospital. The underground hospital at Arras. 

  • The significance of the Western Front for experiments in surgery and medicine: new techniques in the treatment of wounds and infection, the Thomas splint, the use of mobile x-ray units, the creation of a blood bank for the Battle of Cambrai. 

  • The historical context of medicine in the early twentieth century: the understanding of infection and moves towards aseptic surgery; the development of x-rays; blood transfusions and developments in the storage of blood. 



Paper 1: Medicine in Britain, c1250 - present and The British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: surgery and treatment

What’s assessed

Section A: Historic Environment. 16 Marks

Section B: Thematic Study. 36 Marks

How it’s assessed 

Written exam: 1 hour 15 minutes

52 total marks (including 4 marks for spelling, punctuation, grammar and specialist terminology (SPaG)

30% of GCSE

Q1 - 4 marks - description of features

Q2 a) - 8 marks - Analysis and evaluation of source utility

Q2 b) - 4 marks - framing historical questions

Q3) - 4 marks - comparison or similarity and difference over time.

Q4) - 12 marks - Explanation of the process of changes

Q5) - 20 marks - Judgement relating to one of the following; extent, patterns, process, or impact of change.


Paper 2: Conflict in the Middle East

What’s assessed

Q1) - 8 marks - Explanation of consequences

Q2) - 8 marks - Writing an analytical narrative

Q3) 16 marks - Explanation of importance

How it’s assessed

Written Exam: 50 minutes

32 total marks

20% of GCSE


Paper 2: The reigns of King Richard I and King John, 1189 - 1216

What’s assessed

Q1) - 8 marks - Explanation of consequences

Q2) - 12 marks - Explanation of causes

Q3) - 16 marks - Judgement related to one of the following; causation, consequence, change, continuity, significance, similarity and difference

How it’s assessed

Written Exam: 50 minutes

32 total marks

20% of GCSE


Paper 3:Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918 - 39

What’s assessed

Q1) - 4 marks - Making inferences from sources

Q2) - 12 marks - Explanation of causes 

Q3a) - 8 marks - Evaluation of source utility

Q3b) - 4 marks - Analysis of interpretations for difference of view

Q3c) - 4 marks - Explanation of a reason for a difference of view

Q3d) - 20 marks - Evaluation of a historical interpretation

How it’s assessed

Written Exam: 1 hour 20 minutes

52 total marks (including 4 marks for spelling, punctuation, grammar and specialist terminology (SPaG)

Year 12 and 13

Exam Board: Edexcel

The study of America comprises a study in breadth, in which students will learn about the dramatic political, economic and social transformation of the USA in the twentieth century, an era that saw the USA challenged by the consequences of political, economic and social inequalities at home and of its involvement in international conflict. The focus of study is on developments and changes over a broad timescale and so the content is presented as themes spanning a significant duration: 1917-80. This option also contains a study in depth of historical interpretations on a broad question, which is contextualised by, and runs on from, the themes: what impact the Reagan presidency had on the USA in the years 1981–96. The study of South Africa  comprises a study in depth of South Africa during its transition from white minority rule to the free elections of 1994, a long, and at times, dramatic process in which South Africa changed from an apartheid state into a multi-racial democracy. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the creation and consolidation of the apartheid regime by the National Party and the response and methods used by their political opponents in the struggle to overthrow apartheid, as well social, economic and cultural changes that accompanied this process. The study of the British Empire comprises two parts: the Aspects in breadth focus on long-term changes and contextualise the Aspects in depth, which focus in detail on key episodes. Together, the breadth and depth topics explore the development of the British empire and the part played in this by the Royal Navy and merchant marine. Looking at social, economic and political issues, students will study a series of developments that started with an imperial catastrophe which threatened to reduce Britain once more to a European offshore island, but would then transform Britain's standing in the world so that by the end of the period it had the largest empire the world has known. Lastly, the students will complete a piece of controlled assessment, of which the focus is on understanding the nature and purpose of the work of the historian. Students will be required to form a critical view based on relevant reading on the question, problem or issue. They will also be specifically required to analyse, explain and evaluate the interpretations of three historians.


Please see the long term overview for what is studied in each year.


Examined Topic One: In Search of the American Dream: The USA, c.1917 - 96


Key Topic one - The changing political environment, 1917-80

● A changing presidency: the rise and decline of Republicanism to 1933; the influence of Roosevelt; changing styles of presidential leadership, 1945–72; a decline in confidence, 1968–80. ● Influences on the political landscape: from rugged individualism to New Deal ideas in the 1920s and 30s; the Red Scares and anti-communism, 1917–80; liberalism, counter-culture and the conservative reaction, c1960–80. 

● The impact of war on domestic politics: the reasons for a return to ‘normalcy’ and a commitment to isolationism, 1917–41; US emergence as a Cold War superpower from 1941; the impact of involvement in Korea and Vietnam.


Key Topic two - The quest for civil rights, 1917-80

● Black American civil rights, c1917–55: life in the South and the impact of northern migration, 1917–32; the impact of the New Deal, the Second World War and the Truman presidency; from legal challenge to direct action, 1917–55. 

● Black American civil rights, c1955–80: changing patterns and approaches, 1955–68, including southern-based campaigning, the emergence of Black Power and King’s northern strategy; the impact of civil rights legislation: achievements and limits to success, 1955–80. 

● The search for minority rights, 1960–80: the reasons for, and nature of, Native American and hispanic American campaigns; the emergence of the gay rights movement; achievements, and limits to success, of minority campaigns.


Key Topic three - Society and culture in change, 1917-80

● The changing position of women, 1917–80: impact of the Roaring Twenties, Great Depression and New Deal on women; impact of the Second World War and suburban life, 1941–60; emergence of the women’s liberation movement and its achievements; extent of women’s advancement, 1961–80. 

● The impact of immigration, 1917–80: the nature of, and response to, immigration in the 1920s; the impact on urban life, 1919–41; the impact of the Second World War, government policy and its consequences, 1941–80. 

● The influence of popular culture and news media: the social impact of cinema, popular music and radio, 1917–50; the social impact of television from the 1950s; the influence of broadcast news, 1920–80.


Key Topic four - The changing quality of life, 1917-80

● Economic influences: impact of boom, bust and recovery, 1917–41; the impact of the Second World War, post-war affluence and growth, 1941–69; the challenges of the 1970s. 

● Changing living standards: fluctuations in the standard of living, 1917–41; the impact of the Second World War and the growth of a consumer society, 1941–60; living standards, 1961–80, including the impact of anti-poverty policies and economic divisions. 

● Leisure and travel: the reasons for, and the impact of, increased leisure time, 1917–80; the growth of spectator sports; the development, and influence, of a car-owning culture and improved air travel.


Key Topic five - What impact did the Reagan presidency (1981-89) have on the USA in the years 1981-96?

● The effect of Reagan’s economic policies. 

● The extent to which ‘big government’ was reduced. 

● The nature and extent of social change. 

● The extent to which the presidency and US politics were revitalised.


Examined Topic Two: South Africa, 1948-94: From Apartheid state to ‘Rainbow Nation’


Key Topic one - The response to apartheid, c1948-59

● Life in South Africa c1948: race, segregation and discrimination; urbanisation and industrialisation, including township life; rural society; Afrikaner culture and politics; the influence of Britain. 

● Reasons for the National Party victory 1948, including the impact of the Second World War, the growth of Afrikaner nationalism, and international pressures for change. 

● Codifying and implementing apartheid, 1948–59: strengthening the National Party; apartheid laws; pass laws and education; the Tomlinson Report and Bantustans; political suppression and the Treason Trial. 

● African nationalism, 1948–59: political opposition in 1948; the revival of the African National Congress (ANC); the Youth League and the Defiance Campaign; rural resistance; the Freedom Charter; the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC).


Key Topic two - Radicalisation of resistance and the consolidation of National Party power, 1960-68

● Resistance to apartheid and government reaction, 1960– 61: peaceful protest; the Sharpeville Massacre and its significance; the banning of political parties and the state of emergency. 

● Creating a republic, 1960–61: Verwoerd’s aims; the significance of Macmillan’s ‘wind of change’ speech; a republic established, 1960–61; leaving the Commonwealth. 

● African nationalist radicalisation, 1961–68: moves to armed struggle; the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe; the PAC and Poqo; the Rivonia Trial and significance for Nelson Mandela; the impact of exile and imprisonment on the ANC and PAC. 

● Strengthening ‘separate development’, 1961–68: economic recovery, including international investment; developing the Bantustans; diplomatic ties; Vorster’s use of police powers and defence forces.


Key Topic three - Redefining resistance and challenges to National Party power, 1968-83

● Black Consciousness and the Soweto uprising, including: Steve Biko and the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO); the mobilisation of school children; the Soweto Uprising, its significance and suppression. The impact of the death of Steve Biko 1977. 

● The ANC re-strengthened: decline in the early 70s; internal reorganisation and external legitimacy; the role of Oliver Tambo; the global anti-apartheid movement. 

● Domestic challenges to National Party power, 1974–83, including political unrest, problems in the Bantustans, National Party division and scandal, economic pressures and the cost of defence commitments. 

● External pressures on National Party power, 1974–83, including political change in southern Africa, international condemnation and calls for economic sanctions, cultural and sporting boycotts.


Key Topic four - The end of apartheid and the creation of the ‘rainbow nation’, 1984-94

● Revolt in the townships, 1984–87: the United Democratic Front and grassroots organisation; protest strategies; communal and government violence; government suppression. 

● Reasons for Botha’s decision to negotiate, 1985–89, including the failure of Botha’s ‘total strategy’, economic problems and the impact of international isolation, the effect of the state of emergency. 

● Negotiation and compromise, 1989–91: de Klerk’s new course; the significance of Mandela’s release; the unbanning of political parties; the impact of unrest and violence; the dismantling of apartheid; CODESA 1991. 

● A new political settlement, 1992–94: CODESA negotiations; nationalist divisions and communal violence; constitutional agreement and elections; the Government of National Unity; international recognition.


Examined Topic Three: Britain: losing and gaining and empire, 1793 - 1914


Key Topic one - The changing nature and extent of trade

● Reasons for, and nature of, the changing patterns of trade, 1763-1914, including the slave trade, trade in coal and textiles, new trading patterns with the Americas, India and the Far East, the impact of industrialisation on trade and the importance of government policy (key developments: the abolition of the slave trade 1807, the adoption of free trade 1842–46, the repeal of the Navigation Acts 1849). 

● The changing importance of ports, entrepôts and trade routes within the UK and throughout the Empire, 1763-1914 (key developments: the acquisition of Singapore 1819 and Hong Kong 1842, the opening up of Shanghai to trade 1842, the purchase of the Suez Canal shares 1875, the acquisition of Zanzibar 1890, the lease of Wei hai-wei 1898).


Key Topic two - The changing nature of the Royal Navy

● The changing Royal Navy, 1763-1914: the significance of changing ship types; the growing role of commerce protection, including protecting, and later suppressing, the slave trade; suppressing piracy and defending British commerce (key development: the attack on Algiers 1816); the work of exploration and mapping (key development: Captain Cook's exploration of the South Seas, 1768-71). 

● The importance of the acquisition and retention of key strategic bases around the globe, 1763-1914 (key developments: Gibraltar retained 1783, and the acquisition of Malta, Ceylon and Cape Town in 1815, the Falklands in 1833, Aden in 1839 and Cyprus in 1878).


Key Topic three - The loss of the American colonies, 1770-83

● Tensions between colonists and the British, 1770–75: the issue of custom collection and tea duties, including the Boston Tea Party; the Coercive Acts 1774 and their impact. 

● Clashes between British forces and rebels, 1775–76; the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation. 

● Britain's defeat, 1777–83: French and Spanish involvement; Britain’s limited military resources; the defeats of Burgoyne 1777, and Cornwallis 1781; the decision to seek peace and accept the Treaty of Paris. Impact of defeat on Britain 1783. 


Key Topic four - The birth of British Australia, 1788 - 1829

● Australia’s role as a penal colony from 1788; the importance of Lachlan Macquarie: the development of Sydney; land grants to ex-convicts and development up the Hawkesbury River; the growth of Macquarie towns. 

● Impact of British settlement on Aborigines in Tasmania and New South Wales, 1788-1829. 

● The spreading impact: penal settlement in Van Diemen's land 1803; development of whaling; first crossing of the Blue Mountains 1813; first settlements in Western Australia 1826; extent of colonial control by 1829.


Key Topic five - Learning from past mistakes: Canada and the Durham Report, 1837-40

● The political nature and governmental system of Upper and Lower Canada and the perceived threat from the USA. 

● The revolts of 1837–38: causes, course and impact. 

● The importance of the Earl of Durham's appointment as High Commissioner; the roles of Charles Buller and Edward Gibbon Wakefield; the main recommendations and importance of the Durham Report.


Key Topic six - Nearly losing an empire: the British in India, 1829-58

● The role of the East India Company and the Governor General; the importance of Bengal and the Company Army. 

● William Sleeman’s campaign against Thagi: the drive against Sati and female infanticide; the impact of missionaries. 

● The Indian Rebellion: the reforms of Dalhousie; the annexation of Awadh; outbreak and events in Meerut, Cawnpore and Delhi; the siege and relief of Lucknow; reasons why the British retained control.


Key Topic seven - The Nile valley, 1882 - 98

● Reasons for intervention in Egypt 1882: Arabi Pasha and Arab nationalism; protecting European loans and people. French withdrawal; the British military campaign. 

● Egypt as a 'veiled protectorate'; the promises to withdraw and the failure to do so; the work of Sir Evelyn Baring. 

● The problem of the Sudan: the Mahdi; Gladstone's concerns and policy; Gordon's mission, 1884–85. The conquest of the Sudan 1898: the fear of French occupation; the role of Kitchener; the significance of Omdurman.


Paper One - In Search of the American Dream: The USA, c.1917 - 96

What’s assessed

Section A - 20 marks - choice of two essay style questions. Questions normally cover at least a decade but may also target longer periods than a decade. Questions may cross themes. 

Section B - 20 marks - choice of two essay style questions. Questions normally cover at least a third of chronology and may target the whole chronology.

Section C - 20 marks - one compulsory question, based on two extracts of roughly 350 words (not from text books).

How it’s assessed

Written Exam: 2 hours and 15 minutes

60 total marks

30% of GCE


Paper Two- South Africa, 1948-94: from apartheid state to ‘rainbow nation’

What’s assessed

Section A - 20 marks - one compulsory question, based on two sources. Questions will be based on two sources that together total approximately 400 words.

Section B - 20 marks - choice of two essay style questions. Questions target analysis and evaluation, and can relate to a single year/event or to longer periods within the study.

How it’s assessed

Written Exam: 1 hour and 30 minutes

40 total marks

20% of GCE


Paper Three- Britain: losing and gaining an empire, 1796-1914

What’s assessed

Section A - 20 marks - one compulsory question, based on a source. Questions target content from ‘aspects in depth’.

Section B - 20 marks - one essay from a choice of two.  Questions target analysis and evaluation. Questions target content from ‘aspects in depth’ but different from those in section A.

Section C - 20 marks - One essay from a choice of two assessing aspects in breadth. Questions cover at least 100 years and target analysis and evaluation. 

How it’s assessed

Written Exam: 2 hours and 15 minutes

60 total marks

30% of GCE

Long Term Curriculum Overviews

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

This document will provide a visual overview of the department's curriculum from Key Stages 3 to 5. This is in a student-friendly format to support them in their understanding the of the department's curriculum. 

Big Picture Curriculum Map - History


Department Assessment Matrix

This document will provide an overview for assessment for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

Assessment Matrix - History


Key Stage 3 Judgement Descriptors

This document will give you an overview of the criteria for Emerging, Developing, Secure and Mastery judgements at KS3 for this subject.

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - History - Year 7

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - History - Year 8KS3 Judgement Descriptors - History - Year 9

How can you help your child succeed in history?

A desired characteristic of any history student is an enquiring mind. This means that students will want to break down evidence and look at events for what caused them, how they are interpreted and remembered differently, and how events and ideas can link together across cultures and time periods. To help your child in their success please encourage any form of reading, whether it be a work of fiction or nonfiction, visit a local historical point of interest, watch documentaries together, and have discussions about current affairs and how events are unfolding.

Helpful websites and further information