GCSE History

Why study History at GCSE?

A GCSE in History will give you a good knowledge and understanding of the past and how it affects the modern world and will challenge the way you think, argue, debate and write. History is a highly respected GCSE and many students of history have gone on to become professionals such as lawyers, politicians, teachers, business people and accountants as well as working in the creative industries and media.

What will I learn?

We use the Edexcel GCSE specification; there are three exams in GCSE History which cover three major units to study and one sub-unit. Year 9 will be spent laying the groundwork for the more in-depth study done in years 10 and 11. This first year will ensure that you have a good understanding of the historical skills and concepts that are vital to success in GCSE history.

Medicine in Britain, c1250-present and The British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: injuries, treatment and the trenches

Students will learn how key features in the development of medicine were linked with key features of British society by studying the change and continuity of both medicine and society across a lengthy span of time. By being able to understanding the patterns of change, trends and turning points and the things that influenced them students will be analysing the past through the lense of what was known about the human body but also infection and public health.

There is a special section of this unit devoted to looking at the health and well-being of soldiers on the Western Front during WWI. The historic environment study replaces the controlled assessment and will require students to engage in-depth study both in class and independently outside of class.

Early Elizabethan England, 1558-88

Depth studies like this one focus on a shorter time span but require students to understand the complexity of society or a particular historical situation by looking at the ways different factors or individuals interact; this is very true of studying the early reign of Elizabeth I. Students will look at key political but also social changes during the years 1558-88.

Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941-91

The sub-unit on the Cold War enables students to do a focused period study covering WWII from America’s entry into the war through to its breakdown and the emergence of the new bipolar balance of power where American and democracy were pitted against the Soviet Union and communism.

By using historical concepts like significance and cause and consequence students will be able to analyse the actions of the two superpowers and the outcome of those actions.

The USA, 1954-75: conflict at home and abroad

The final exam unit is a modern depth study, as with the Elizabethan depth study, students will be focusing on the complex interplay of factors that contributed to the way that Americans viewed the conflicts they were in during this period, both internal and external.

How will I be assessed?

There are regular assessments in GCSE History. In Year 9 the assessments are done during class time and could be longer-essay assessments or exam questions; these are done every three weeks. In Year 10 there is more of an emphasis on answering exam questions and as well as regular class assessments, partway through the year a larger mock exam will be conducted with a second at the end of the year. In Year 11 there is a mock exam at the start of the year and smaller assessments during the year, building up to the formal exams in the summer term.

What are the costs?

Students are responsible for purchasing their own pens, pencils, rulers, and highlighters. It is advisable that students purchase their own copy of the course textbooks so that they can study outside of school, but it is not required. Students are asked to purchase revision guides outside of school. Smaller workbooks will be available for purchase in years 10 and 11.

Students are expected to pay for any trips that are organised.

Is there anything else I need to know?

It is important that you are able to keep on top of your study outside of lessons too, not just use what is done in lessons. Students who perform the best at GCSE History are the students who put in the time to improve their understanding by reading or watching podcasts or documentaries outside of lessons as well. We call this historical literacy and having good historical literacy can help you engage better with the learning we do in the classroom. It is okay if you do not know how to do this at the start of your GCSE because this is something we show you how to do.

Future opportunities

GCSE History is a good subject to select if you have an interest in academic Level 3 courses including History, Law, Criminology, Sociology, English Literature and Politics.

Additional resource to help you with your selection

Historical Association: Choosing history at GCSE and A Level

Who should I contact for extra information?

Course contact: reeann.vaughan@biddenham.beds.sch.uk

Exam Board information: EDEXCEL

Who should I contact for extra information?