Q: But what use is history to me? It's all about the past - how will it help me get a job?
History IS both interesting AND useful!
As a History student, you will never experience the events that you study; instead you have to build up a picture from the evidence that has been left. You have to become skilled at asking questions, sometimes awkward questions; you will learn not to take everything at face value. You have to develop empathy and understanding of the actions and achievements of others; you have to be prepared to put your case and argue it well; you have to use evidence to draw conclusions and make judgements. These skills are highly desirable in many different careers and A -Level History is excellent training for any career where you have to use evidence or make decisions, especially where those decisions affect other people.
History students are not just limited to "becoming another history teacher" (unless they want to of course!) Nor are they destined to gather dust in a museum or library (again unless they want to!) There are so many careers out there that require the skills that a study of history can bring; law, medicine, business, finance, accountancy, tourism, town planning, politics, journalism, research to name but a few!
Q: But I don't want a career in history, I just like the subject, so what use will it be to me?
Historians are trained to look for bias and prejudice in all the evidence they study. They know that human beings often have strong views on many subjects, which may affect the statements they make. There is no other subject that deals so well with sorting out what is useful and reliable evidence and what must be sifted out than history. Imagine believing everything you read in the papers, or believing every statement that politicians make! History helps you to make decisions about other people and to decide if you trust what they say.
If you enjoy history, it can lead you to a great future. Look at Dermott Murnaghan, journalist, David Sainsbury, Chairman of Sainsbury's, Diane Abbott, MP and broadcaster. You can also count the likes of Melvin Bragg, Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, Monty Python's Michael Palin, Sacha Baron Cohen (AKA Ali G) Louis Theroux, Jonathan Ross, John Prescott, Gordon Brown, Al Murray and Cold Play's Chris Martin among other history graduates!
The skills developed in history are transferable, highly valued by employers and make you a good prospect:
- Asking questions
- Making Judgements
- Understanding people
- Problem solving
- Report writing skills - analysing, selecting, organising and communicating clearly. Critical analysis - of events, people, documents.
- Your ability to communicate: both spoken and written.
- Logical thought processes - the ability to work out why things happen, to establish theories and back them with evidence.
Since many of the issues studied in History do not have clear and easy explanations, while you are studying the topic you will have the chance to become more skilled at reasoning, deduction, and at organising and evaluating information.
Finally, as a result of having to defend your opinions and conclusions in class discussion, you will find yourself with many chances to develop your own self-confidence.
How will I be taught?
You will have different teachers for different parts of the course
In year 12 you will cover papers 1 and 2.
In Year 13 you will cover paper 3 and 4- the coursework element.
All four units need to be sat at the end of year 13 to attain an A level in the subject.
What will we do in lessons?
You will do lots of different things in your lessons- group work, independent study, peer assessment, presentations, debates/discussions, practice papers, planning responses, investigating sources. You will have different teachers for different parts of the course.
What resources are available?
You will have a wide range of resources. Each student will be issued with a standard text book for the separate elements of the course. There will also be resources on the VLE which you are encouraged to use as much as possible
What support is available?
We always try to support our students as much as possible. Students are encouraged to self-review through their tracking sheets. Teachers see students individually to review work. We carry out targeted revision classes, usually related to skills and general classes. We will always assist individual students with any concerns.
How will I be examined?
Click here for new AS History Induction course details for 2015.
In lower sixth we follow the theme ‘Revolutions in early modern Europe’
In Paper 1 we study ‘Britain, 1625 -1701: conflict, revolution and settlement’ exploring the turbulent period of British History which saw the execution of the monarch, a short lived republic and the Glorious Revolution. This paper is the breadth study with a question focused on interpretations and the exam lasts 2 hours 15 minutes.
In Paper 2 we study Russia in revolution 1894-1924, a period which saw the end of Tsarist rule and The Bolshevik revolution. This paper is a depth study, again this will involve both source work and an essay. This will be examined by a paper which lasts 1 ½ hours.
Paper 3 develops source skills further and tests understanding of both change over time and in depth knowledge. The probable topic will be the Witch Craze in Europe and North America.
You will also complete a coursework assignment which will be based on investigation into the views of historians, the probable topic will be the Nazi Dictatorship.
Related Courses and Careers:
History works very well with a wide variety of other subjects and teaches a range of skills. Students often study History along with other Humanities subjects, Politics, Economics, English, Modern Languages and many others. The skills are transferrable and History is regarded as a facilitating subject by the top universities. The skills taught therefore prepare students for a wide variety of careers including the Legal Profession, Journalism, Teaching, the Civil Service and Business.
History is not an easy option but most students enjoy it and do well. The most important advice is to keep up with the work- adopt an approach which works for you and manage your time effectively. Learn from your mistakes- do not be discouraged as you come to terms with the skills needed- your GCSE will have prepared you well. Most importantly revise early and be thorough- plan and write practice essays and responses.
How can I find out more?
Ask any of the teachers in the History department- ask students in year 12 or year 13 who study the subject. Your course will be different but they will help you to understand what it is like to study History at Townley. Your GCSE teacher knows you best so ask them what they think about you doing the subject at AS level.