St John Plessington Catholic College


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Head of Department:

Mrs L Davies 




GCSE in History 

Programme of study

History allows you to gain knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live today. Topics are chosen for their relevance to modern society and links to events taking place all around the world. History encourages you to think independently, to ask questions and make judgements. Schools of History train learners’ minds to assemble, organise and present facts and opinions. 

You will encounter a variety of teaching techniques from role-play, discussion and debate to group work and personal reflection. You will also see the subject brought to life through ICT and authentic footage. You will have numerous opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities. The department frequently organises out-of-school learning opportunities such as revision conferences and overseas visits. For example, GCSE and A Level pupils have visited Munich, Germany and Poland. 

How is the course structured? 

The GCSE History course is divided into four units that will all be assessed through examinations at the end of Year 11. 

Paper 1: Thematic Study and Historic Environment: (30% of the qualification) 

Medicine in Britain 1250-present and the British sector of the Western Front, 1914-18: injuries, treatment and the trenches. The exam will involve you answering questions on the key features of the period, explaining similarities and differences of the period, detailed source analysis and reaching a judgement through contextual knowledge and a balanced argument.

Paper 2: Period study and British Depth Study: (40% of the qualification) contains two units

The American West 1835-1895 and Tudor depth option. The exam paper will be split into a Period Study on the American West and a depth study on Elizabethan England. You will answers questions explaining consequence, importance and features of the period. There will also be a question asking you to reach a reasoned judgement using contextual knowledge.

Paper 3: Modern Depth Study: (30% of the qualification) Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918-39.

The exam has a large focus on sources and interpretations. You will be asked to make inferences from sources, analyse the utility of sources and explain the reasons for differences between interpretations. You will also need to reach a judgement on how far they agree with a statement using interpretations, sources and relevant contextual historical knowledge. 

How will my work be assessed? 

The four externally examined units will be taken at the end of Year 11. Paper 1 is worth 30% of the qualification through a written examination of 1 hour and 15 minutes. Paper 2 (contains two units) is worth 40% and is a written examination of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Finally paper 3 is worth 30% and is a written examination of 1 hour and 20 minutes. 

These exams all require you to develop your extended writing skills, As well as being assessed on specific historical knowledge, you will be expected to use all you have learned in English to produce a high standard of written communication. Source analysis skills are essential and you will be taught to rigorously evaluate evidence to form an opinion and answer questions. 

What can these qualifications lead to? 

You have the opportunity to continue your studies in this subject at A Level and beyond. History is an excellent preparation for many jobs such as management, business consultancy, the police, law and positions in local and central government.