Confidential Access

Key Stage 4

Resources supporting the current GCSE curriculum can be found on the History department pages of the Firefly site.

History is, at its heart, the study of human experience and human interaction. We follow the Edexcel History GCSE 2016 specification in order to build on students’ knowledge and skills from Key Stage 3. The course covers a range of periods of history and blends overview and depth to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of key themes and developments from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The course is composed of four units:

Thematic study and historic environmentMedicine in Britain c.1250-present with The British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: injuries, treatment and the trenches
British depth studyHenry VIII and his ministers, 1509-40
Modern depth studyWeimar and Nazi Germany, 1918-39
Overview study Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941-91

The study of these units provides opportunities for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of history and human experience in a range of ways, including:

• An overall story of change and continuity in British history
• The historical origins of modern politics, through the political changes introduced by the Tudors
• The development of scientific and social and cultural attitudes, through the study of medicine and health
• The role of key individuals, both in politics and in social and scientific fields
• An understanding of the nature of politics and international relations in the modern world, through the study of twentieth century democracies and dictatorships, the role of modern superpowers and the crises of the nuclear age and the Cold War

We answer questions such as:

• How much changed in medicine and health between the Black Death and the Plague?
• Did industrialisation improve medicine and health?
• How far did science improve medicine after 1500?
• How did war lead to developments in medical treatments and medical technology in the twentieth century?

• Was Henry VIII a powerful king?
• How far did Henry transform England?

• Did democracy make Germany great again in the 1920s?
• Why did Hitler gain power in 1933 (but not before)?
• Was anyone better off under the Nazis?

• How close did the world come to nuclear war?
• Why was there a crisis over Cuba in 1962?

Studying History at GCSE builds on the skills students have already been developing in History since Year 7. These include oral and written explanation and analysis; the ability to identify and deploy relevant evidence; the ability to construct an argument in response to a question; the ability to research and use sources critically; and the ability to engage with the experiences and cultures of other people and other countries.

These skills are an invaluable basis for A-level courses in sciences as well as in social sciences and humanities, and are equally essential beyond education, in the workplace. Successful past students of GCSE History are now doctors and dentists, as well as historians and journalists; they have continued to draw on the knowledge and skills they gained at GCSE, whatever path they have later chosen to follow.

Students studying the GCSE course have the opportunity to participate in the very popular study visit to Berlin in Year 10. By visiting sites relating to their courses on Germany and the Cold War, such as the Reichstag, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the Stasi Prison and Checkpoint Charlie, students will deepen their understanding of the conflicts of the period and the human experience of life in Germany before and after the Second World War.

The Year 9 residential study visit to the Battlefields of the First World War also complements the GCSE course, supporting students understanding of injuries and medical treatment in the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War, which forms a particular focus within the thematic study of Medicine in Britain.