GCSE History


We live in a diverse, complicated world, marred by problems and misunderstandings. We cannot ignore these issues in the way that we might have been able to fifty years ago. The modern media will not allow us to. We may ask ‘why are some parts of the world so much poorer than others?’ or ‘why is there so much conflict in certain parts of the world’? Studying History helps us make some sense of the present and find explanations for the way things are. We start to understand how and why different groups have interpreted the same events in completely different ways. We learn how to evaluate and make sense of different types of evidence. We realise that is sometimes hard to make judgements, so when we do make them we try to make sure that they are clear and informed. We can make more sense of the world we live in when we have some understanding of the past.

Why study History at GCSE?

The GCSE syllabus we follow at Ashbourne focuses on the history of the turbulent twentieth century, a century scarred by two world wars and the rise and fall of two ideologies: communism and fascism. We think about the causes and consequences of these important events and developments and we try to evaluate their effect on different groups. We also start to look at the way historians have tried to approach the past, how they collect and use evidence and how they come to judgements. We even come to judgements of our own.

Teaching at Ashbourne is in small groups, so students have a great deal of individual attention. They learn and are able to practise specific examination techniques so that they are fully prepared for the questions they will face in June.

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow OCR Modern World History B specification.

How many units are there?

There are three units in total: one unit is a controlled assessment and the other two units are examined.

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3

Unit 1 – (A011)

Unit 1 is called Aspects of International Relations and Germany 1918-1945. It is in three sections. In Sections A and B students answer questions on the interwar period. They think about the problems created by the First World War and the ways these were addressed. They examine the threat to international peace from Japan, Italy and Germany during the 1930s and start to evaluate the significance of the policy of appeasement and the reasons for the outbreak of war in 1939. In Section C students answer questions on Fascist Germany, in particular they investigate the reasons for the rise of the Nazis and the effect of Nazi policies on the German people

Unit 2 – (A021)

How was British Society Changed 1890-1918?

A study of some British History is compulsory. In this unit, students study British society at the turn of the last century. There is particular focus on\; the Liberal reforms, the activities of the suffragists and suffragettes and the home front during the First World War. This is a source-based paper.

Unit 3 – (A010)

Historical Enquiry based on depth study of Russia, 1905-1941

Students study the causes and consequences of the Russia Revolution. We think about the causes of the Russian Revolution, including the problems in the Tsarist regime and the impact of the war. We look at the ideology of communism and examine its appeal. There is particular emphasis on change and continuity. Students are encouraged to think about the effect of the dramatic changes in Russia on different groups in society and come to judgements about why different groups are treated differently.

They will be required to produce a 2,000-word essay over the course of eight hours of controlled time. The title is set by the examination board.

How is each unit examined?

Unit 1

Students sit a two-hour examination.

Unit 2

Students sit a one-and-a-half-hour examination.

Unit 3

Controlled assessment task, which takes place over eight hours.

When do the exams take place?

Exams take place in June and controlled assessment takes place in February.

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Joanna Budden
BA in History (Leeds), PGCE Secondary Education (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Joanna Budden has a BA in History from Leeds University. She taught English abroad for some years before completing a PGCE at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is also an examiner for Edexcel. Joanna enjoys travel and the great outdoors.

Beyond GCSE for History Students

History GCSE leads naturally into History A Level. Although it is likely that students will study different topics at A Level, the skills they have developed at GCSE will be very helpful to them. Knowledge of twentieth-century history also gives students a head start if they go on to study Government and Politics, while study of the past provides a good context for those interested in Literature or History of Art.