History GCSE

Full Name of Specification

GCSE History

Exam board specification link


What will I learn?

GCSE History is an opportunity to develop a set of skills that will prepare for better understanding the world in addition to preparation for further education.

Each topic is broken down into the following key areas of study:

Health and the People: c1000 to present day

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of how medicine and public health developed in Britain with influences from abroad over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of short- and long-term developments; their impact on society and how they were related to the key features and characteristics of the periods during which they took place. Although the focus of this study is the development of medicine and public health in Britain, it will draw on wider world developments that impacted on the core themes. Students will have the opportunity to see how some ideas and events in the wider world affected Britain and will promote the idea that key themes did not develop in isolation, but these ideas and events should be referenced in terms of their effects on the core theme for Britain and British people. There is a focus on the contribution to medicine from the medieval Arab World and the crucial importance of Islamic medicine and key figures in Islamic medicine who were not always credited in the west for their work in their lifetime.  Students will study the importance of the following factors:

  • War
  • Superstition and religion
  • Government
  • Science and technology
  • The role of the individual in encouraging or inhibiting change.

Students will show an understanding of how factors worked together to bring about particular developments at a particular time, how they were related and their impact upon society. Students will develop an understanding of the varying rate of change, why change happened when it did, whether change brought progress, and the significance of the change(s). They should also be able to distinguish between different types of causes and consequences, such as short/long-term causes, intended/unintended consequences.

Elizabethan England, c1568-1603

The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth I’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints, and arising contemporary and historical controversies. It is taught thematically, focusing on her court life and politics, society, poverty and the arts and exploration and conflicts with Spain. Each year students are given a different environmental site to focus their study on.

America, 1920-1973: Opportunity and inequality

This period study focuses on the development of the USA during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of opportunity and inequality – when some Americans lived the ‘American Dream’ whilst others grappled with the nightmare of poverty, discrimination and prejudice. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them. This topic is key for focusing on the diversity of American Society and the racism and discrimination faced by both ethnic minorities and women and how groups pushed for these struggles to be overcome. The syllabus focuses on there being smaller groups advocating change and not just those individuals who became famous for leading the Civil Rights Movement.

Conflict and Tension: The inter-war years, 1918-1939

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different individuals and states including the Great Powers in the period between the First and Second World War. It examines concepts such as national self-determination, ideas of internationalism and the challenges of revising the peace settlement. It focuses on the causes of the Second World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the issues which caused it. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations. This topic introduces students to 20th and 21st century political spectrums and how to develop an understanding of fascism, socialism and communist ideologies and the reasons why different political groups are able to gain traction.

Why study this course?

GCSE History informs you about the past. It is a fascinating subject as you will find out about what the world was like in times gone by. What people did. Who governed them. Wars. Scandals. There’s something for everybody. So much has happened in the history of this planet, there’s bound to be something you’ll like learning about.

How is it assessed?

You will complete two exams at the end of Year 11. Each paper has a maximum of 84 marks; a total of 168 marks.

Paper 1: Understanding the modern world involved the period study and the wider world depth study.

The paper is broken down into Section A: Period Studies and Section B: Wider world depth studies.


Section B: Conflict and Tension 1918-1939


Paper 2: Shaping the Nation.

The paper is broken down into Section A: Thematic Studies and Section B: British depth studies including the historic environment.

Section A: Health and the People c1000-present day

Section B: Elizabethan England

How will this prepare me?

GCSE History offers you the opportunity to develop a variety of skills that are applicable to a vast multitude of different areas of study. A good pass grade in History will support you in your journey of Further Education. The study of history helps with a vast variety of.

The abilities that GCSE History will help you to develop include:

  • Critical reasoning and analytical skills, including solving problems and thinking creatively
  • The ability to conduct detailed research
  • The ability to construct an argument both orally and in writing
  • The ability to work without direct supervision and manage time and priorities effectively
  • The ability to discuss ideas in groups
  • How to approach problems and new situations with an open mind
  • An appreciation of the different factors that influence the activities of groups and individuals in society.
  • A broader conceptual understanding of the world, societies and reasoning the complexities of human nature.


Laura Bonnesen / Chris Challinor