A Level History

Please note that Ancient History is run by the Classics Department.

Course description

At A-Level (Edexcel), pupils will enjoy a balanced diet of topics, both geographically and chronologically. There are three examined Papers and one coursework Paper. Pupils can expect their course to fulfil the following criteria, which are in line with government requirements:

  • Pupils will study the history of more than one country.
  • At least one Paper will cover a British history topic.
  • At least one Paper will cover a medieval/early modern topic from c.1095-c.1700.
  • At least one Paper will cover a modern topic from c.1700-2000.

While the precise topics for the examined Papers will depend on the specialisms of their teachers, an indication of what pupils might study can be taken from what has been taught recently:

  • USA, 1917-96; South Africa, 1948-94; Tudor Rebellions, 1485-1603
  • The Crusades, c.1095-1204; Norman Conquest, c.1053-1106; British Empire, 1763-1914

There is scope for pupils to choose the area of study for their coursework Paper, taking into account departmental resources and the specialisms amongst the department staff. Such cases will be decided on an individual basis after discussion with the teacher and Head of Department.


Pupils must have attained at least a grade 7 in GCSE/IGCSE History as A-Level requires particular historical skills that will have developed over the previous two years. Pupils who achieve below these grades in V Form are not encouraged to take the course given how demanding the essay skills and research components are. A love of reading is essential. In certain circumstances it will be possible for someone without a History qualification to take A-Level as long as they have attained at least an A grade in English or another suitable humanities subject. Such cases are decided on an individual basis after discussion with the Head of Department. This subject requires a genuine interest in, and enthusiasm for, the past, together with a willingness to work consistently hard throughout the two year course. The ability to work independently of close supervision at times and to read widely into the subject will be vital. Successful A-Level pupils will be well organised and willing to push themselves hard.

Assessment structure

Paper 1: Breadth Study (examination) 30%

Paper 2: Depth Study (examination) 20%

Paper 3: Breadth (100 years) & Depth Studies (examination) 30%

Paper 4: Coursework: historical enquiry (internal assessment) 20%

Potential careers

History is useful preparation for almost any non-science subject at university. It complements subjects such as Politics, Geography, Languages, English, RS, Economics and Classics at A level as it offers a range of skills that help to raise your analytical abilities. And as for careers? Read this…..

History may be bunk, but its graduates are the future of UK plc, according to research that reveals that the subject turns out more directors of top companies than any other.

Professor David Nicholls, head of history at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “With a history degree you can aspire to be prime minister, a press baron, overlord of the BBC, famous lawyer, Archbishop of Canterbury, diplomat, Oxbridge vice-chancellor, famous comedian, business multimillionaire or celebrated pop musician. … Not only do history graduates enter a wide range of careers, many rise to the top.” Source: Alison Utley, The Times Higher Education Supplement, No.1564 (15 November 2002), p. 1.

History lends itself to a very wide variety of careers and historians are always in demand as a consequence of the skills they have acquired during their studies. Other than explicitly academic careers, historians can be found in almost all areas of the employment market and particularly so in law, journalism and the professions.

Please note that Ancient History is run by the Classics Department.

Contact for further information

Mr BP Lewsley: bpl@wellingtoncollege.org.uk

Link to the Edexcel A-Level Specification