A Level History

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

History is fundamentally the study of the past. It examines past individuals, societies, cities and other structures, as well as the causes that shaped their development and demise. The A Level History course focuses on nineteenth and twentieth-century Europe. The themes of ideology and imperialism are considered during this tumultuous period. Focus will also be given to social and cultural aspects, so that students acquire a comprehensive understanding of these pivotal years. The course will also concentrate on source-evaluation and the importance of presenting clear and defined arguments in a coherent and concise fashion.

The study of these topics will allow students to understand Mark Twain’s famous comment that “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” History allows us to understand the context in which events happened, and – through knowledge of the historiography of the era – to analyse how interpretations have been subsequently altered or validated.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will focus on 'Tsarist and Communist Russia, 1855-1964', studying patterns of continuity and change as well as cause and consequence across the successive periods of Tsarist and Communist rule. You will look at how political authority and its opposition changed in Russia and the Soviet Union, as well as economic, social and cultural developments throughout this period. Furthermore, the roles of individuals, ideas and ideologies will be considered.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will study two components. The first is 'Wars and Welfare: Britain in Transition, 1906-1957', focussing on a key period in British history in which successive democratic governments faced a series of internal as well as external challenges; and in which British society underwent fundamental change. Alongside this, you will look at 'British Foreign Policy, 1714-1815' as the background to your historical investigation.

Why study it and what skills does it develop

History is a venerable and rigorous academic subject that is respected by every university. It will develop your analytic and evaluative skills through confrontation with both source material and the competing historical explanations it has led to. It will teach you how to articulate coherent arguments in a clear written form. These are skills that will benefit you across a range of subjects and beyond.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

A GCSE in History is not a prerequisite. You will need the ability to read substantial quantities of text with a critical eye and to write clearly and concisely. It is important to bear in mind that at this level it is not a matter of retaining and deploying a lot of information but rather a matter of drawing upon it selectively to construct a persuasive argument.

How is the course assessed?

A level

For the A level, there are four exams on Units 1-4 respectively. The Unit 1 and Unit 2 exams are as specified above, though they are now worth 20% and 30% of the A level respectively. In the Unit 3 exam, you will be given an extract from an unidentified historian’s writing. One extract will be set on each of the topics. The question will ask what can be learned about the interpretation and approach of the historian who wrote it. The Unit 4 exam will require you to complete two essays covering the years 1918-1941. The questions will focus on how far a particular dictator had achieved their aims, why they were able to do so and how far they can be described as totalitarian. The Unit 3 exam is worth 20% of the A level and lasts 1 hour. The Unit 4 exam is worth 30% of the A level and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes.

Reading

To be confirmed at start of course

Oxford AQA History for A level: Tsarist and Communist Russia 1855-1964
By S. Waller
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0198354673

Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A Pelican Introduction
By Orlando Figes
Published by Pelican, ISBN 978-0141043678

Oxford AQA History for A level: Wars and Welfare: Britain in Transition 1906-1957
By M. Willis, J. Thomas and S. Waller
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0198354598

Imperial Island: A History of Britain and its Empire, 1660-1837
By Paul Kleber Monod
Published by Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1405134453

Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1783
By B. Simms
Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140289848

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: AQA 7042 

Samuel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations)

I have really enjoyed my time MPW and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."

Mark

Grades achieved at MPW
AAB

Progressed to
Southampton University (Business Innovation)

The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of MPW were fully met.

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”

Gabriel

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”