One of the traditional A–Level subjects for those that are interested in history, society, politics and international relations.
WHAT WILL YOU STUDY?
You will study four units and focus on different societies and developments in international politics.
In Year 6 you will gain detailed understanding of the causes and the eruption of the French Revolution, the failure of the constitutional monarchy of Louis XVI and the subsequent political, social and economic changes for the French people during the Great Terror and the Directory in the late 18th century. You will also analyse and evaluate sources when learning about Russia in the 20th century (from Lenin to Yeltsin, 1917-1991). This option comprises developments and changes in government, society, industry and agriculture, state control of mass media, arts and the role of the secret police.
In Year 7 you will study civil rights and race relations in the USA (1865-2009) and explore the changing patterns of relations between black and white Americans that have shaped America and remain a fundamental issue in US society. Your enquiry will, amongst others, look into the activities and the impact of the Ku Klux Klan, of Martin Luther King and end with Barack Obama’s presidency. The final option contains a study of historical interpretations of the origins of the Cold War and the development of the superpower relations (1943-1990). Specifically, you will learn about the role of politicians like Stalin, Mao and Kennedy in the shaping of relations between East and West, as well as the threat of war on the one hand, and the resolution of the conflict on the other.
ABOUT THE EXTERNAL EXAMINATION
All four units will be assessed externally in the form of a 2 hour exam for each unit. There will be a choice of four questions from which you will have to choose two and they generally deal with evaluations and interpretations of historical developments or events. Each unit counts 25% towards the International A-Level.
WHAT CAN HISTORY OFFER ME?
This International A-level will foster your critical and reflective thinking skills and will help you improve as effective and independent learners. You will develop your use of historical concepts and skills, most importantly your essay writing skills because you will make links and draw comparisons across different periods and aspects of the past as well as organise and communicate your ideas convincingly and reach substantiated judgements. No matter if your course at university will be related to politics, diplomacy or whatever else you choose, History is considered a very strong A-Level which provides you with many useful skills that you will need to perform well in research and academic writing at university level.
Assessment is varied to provide opportunity for students to maximize their performance based on their strengths and to develop a range of skills:
- Maximum 3 tests per semester
- Longer essays (at home & in class)
- In-class presentations on select topics
MAIN DIFFERENCE TO THE IGCSE
The difference between the two courses lies in an increased level of challenge. The International A-Level is far more demanding and analysis driven. It goes into greater detail in order to access complex contexts and requires more refined analytical skills and independence in order to assess documents or interpretations.
- Critical analysis of documents
- Critical reflection on historical explanations
- Evaluation of interpretations
- Essay writing skills
- Individual research skills
- Presentation techniques
In particular the top universities look for students with a sound cultural education of which History is an essential part. It provides an excellent background and useful skills (investigation, critical thinking, weighing arguments and examining evidence) for all sorts of careers, for example in international relations/diplomacy, politics, architecture, literature, philosophy, economics, law, journalism etc.