A Level History


Develop critical thinking and independent learning skills as you consider current events through the lens of history. Delve into the Cold War to understand how close the world came to nuclear destruction. Explore the influence of the Tudors on the UK’s current political system and its role in creating today's polarised politics. Study the Civil Rights movement in the USA and the struggle of women, natives, workers and African-Americans for equality.

Why St Mary's

In our small classes, you will have access to experienced teachers who can offer regular in-depth support, tailored to suit your strengths. Using innovative teaching and learning techniques, each topic is taught in an engaging, accessible way.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

  • History essay competitions, such as the Julia Wood Prize
  • Lecture delivered by University academics

Historians in the Sixth Form can also engage with leadership opportunities through mentoring younger students and getting involved in our extra-curricular club for lower school girls. We will help you to prepare to study history (or related subjects) at university, with support for personal statements, entrance examination and interview preparation – for example, the Oxford History Aptitude Test.

Enabling your transition from GCSE

Plenty of guidance will ensure you can develop your essay writing skills to A Level standard. For example, we might work collaboratively on a group essay, sharing ideas with peers to plan a question, and key sections of an essay, building your skills and confidence as you progress.

We will also ensure you are equipped with the skills you need to succeed in your independent research project – all very valuable preparation for higher education and employment.

Course overview

A Level content

  • England 1547-1603: The Later Tudors: An enquiry topic, focused on the Mid-Tudor Crises of 1547-1558, and a British period study, focused on the reign of Elizabeth I.
  • The Cold War in Europe: 1941-1995: A period study of the origins of the Cold War in Europe, including the peace negotiations at the end of World War II. Other topics in this unit include the Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the opposition to communist rule in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia, the arms race, détente and the break-up of the USSR.
  • Civil rights in the USA: 1865-1992: This unit covers a series of themes including African Americans, trade unions, Native Americans and women, focusing on the struggle of US citizens to gain equality before the law, and the factors which encouraged and discouraged change. You will also focus on three depth studies: the ‘Gilded Age’ c1875-1895, The New Deal and civil rights, and Malcolm X and Black Power, with particular reference to how these periods have been interpreted by historians.
  • Topic based essay: An independently researched essay of 3000-4000 words on a topic of your choosing.


A Level assessment

Three written papers:

  • British period: England 1547-1603: The Later Tudors (25% of the total marks)
  • Non-British period: The Cold War in Europe: 1941-1995 (15% of the total marks)
  • Thematic study and historical interpretations: Civil rights in the USA (1865-1992) (40% of the total marks)

Non-examined assessment

  • Topic based essay: (20% of the total marks)

Visit our Sixth Form

At a glance
  • Syllabus: OCR (H105/H505)
  • 3 written papers (80% of A Level)
  • 1 topic based essay (20% of A Level)
  • Small class sizes

Entry requirements

GCSE grades (or equivalent

  • Subject 1: History: 6+
  • Subject 2: English Language: 6+ (CEFR B2.2)
You will enjoy this course if you...
  • Like analysing information
  • Have an interest in the past
  • Have an enquiring mind
  • Enjoy reading
  • Like to organise, analyse and communicate ideas in writing


What our teachers say...

“People think history is set in stone, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Our understanding of the past is constantly and rapidly changing. This makes the study of history surprising, sometimes shocking, but always fascinating and intriguing.”

“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.” Rosa Parks, USA Civil Rights Activist

By studying past events, history enables us to move forward and to learn from past mistakes. History shows us what it is to be human, it encompasses the devastation of war, the triumph of hope over adversity and reveals the fabric upon which today’s society is built.

History opens up a whole world of opportunities for the future and is widely-valued by employers and universities alike. Studying History allows students to develop and become confident in vital skills such as:

  • analysis and synthesis of complex ideas
  • creating an effective argument
  • thinking critically about evidence
  • carrying out independent research
  • structuring extended written arguments

Girls who study History at A Level can go on to study it a university level. History is also a strong supporting subject for, and has links to, a wide range of courses including: Law, Politics and International relations, English, Geography, Philosophy, Modern Foreign Languages and Sociology. Girls who have studied History have gone on to equally diverse careers in: law, teaching, the civil service, education, journalism, heritage, librarianship and archival work, advertising, and politics.

Leaver destinations

Read more

Our results

Achieve the results you need to fulfil your dreams.

Read more