A Level History

Only through developing a secure understanding of the past can we truly understand the present. At New Hall you will have the opportunity to study History A Level in the historic setting of a Tudor palace, and will develop your knowledge of past events and societies, as well as your skills of analysis and the ability to construct an effective argument.

In A Level History you will study important concepts such as racism, equality, democracy, justice and imperialism. You will have the opportunity to engage critically with a variety of primary sources, enabling you to learn about events from those who were directly involved in them. You will read historians’ interpretations and develop your own opinions about the causes, consequences and significance of momentous events and individuals in History. At the end of Year 12 you will embark on an independent investigation on a topic of your choice, exploring an area of personal interest to you and formulating your own argument.

Course details

Edexcel Paper 1: In Search of the American Dream: the USA, c1917-96

  • The changing styles of presidential leadership
  • The impact of the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War
  • Black American civil rights
  • The impact of immigration
  • Popular culture
  • The presidency of Ronald Reagan

Edexcel Paper 2: South Africa, 1948-94: from apartheid state to ‘rainbow nation’

  • The implementation of apartheid
  • The growth of African nationalism, including the ANC and the role of Nelson Mandela
  • The move to armed struggle
  • Black Consciousness and the Soweto uprising
  • The end of apartheid and the new political settlement

Edexcel Paper 3: Britain: losing and gaining an empire, 1763-1914

  • The War of Independence
  • The birth of British Australia
  • Rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada
  • The Indian Rebellion
  • The Mahdi and the Battle of Omdurman

Co-Curricular opportunities and trips

History Society is open to all students and allows them to explore different areas of the subject beyond their A Level specification. It is an opportunity to analyse new source material, debate controversial topics and learn about interesting events and individuals.

The History Department runs the Debating Society, supporting students to become more articulate and persuasive. Students are also prepared for the ESU and parliamentary competitions.

Members of the History Department also run the Feminist Society, which explores the position of women throughout history and how we can challenge gender inequality in society today.

  • Students are encouraged to enter essay writing competitions including:
  • The Julia Wood Essay Competition (St Hugh’s College, Oxford)
  • The Robson History Prize (Trinity College, Cambridge)
  • The Newnham Essay Prize (Newnham College, Cambridge)
  • The Sir Martin Gilbert History Prize (Historical Association)
  • Global Essay Competition (John Locke Institute)


The History Department has subscriptions to the following websites and journals:

  • History Today
  • Historical Association
  • History Hit


In 2022, 38% of grades were A* and 77% A*-A. 100% of students achieved A*-C grades.

What the students say:

I have enjoyed studying History A Level because it has helped me to understand the struggle for racial equality around the world, something which is still extremely important and relevant today.” – Felicity, Year 13

I enjoy studying History A Level because of the wide range of topics which have improved my understanding of events around the world, helping me to have a better appreciation of the present. It has also helped me to develop crucial skills of analysis and argument, helping me to think critically and articulate my opinions.” – Stephanie, Year 13

Head of History: Mrs S. Garside [email protected]

Instagram: @newhallhistory