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AQA GCSE HISTORY Exam

Introduction

GCSE History is divided into two papers.
The first paper is ‘Understanding the modern world.’ It is a written exam of two hours, accounting for 50% of the GCSE. In Section A there is a choice of four period studies, each with a focus on two key developments in a country’s history over at least a 50-year period. In Section B there is a choice of five wider world depth studies. These focus on international conflict and tension.

The second paper is ‘Shaping the Nation.’ It is a written exam of two hours, accounting for the other 50% of the GCSE. In Section A there is a choice of three thematic studies, which look at key developments in Britain over a long period. In Section B there is a choice of four British depth studies incorporating the study of a specific historic environment.

There are four assessment objectives, which are specified for students. Please find our full breakdown of GCSE English below, with requisite assessment details and objectives.

Paper 1: ‘Understanding the modern world’

Section A: Period Studies

AA America, 1840–1895: Expansion and consolidation

This period study focuses on the development of America during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of expansion and consolidation – the expansion to the west and consolidation of the United States as a nation. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: Expansion: opportunities and challenges

Part two: conflict across America

Part three: Consolidation: forging the nation

AB Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship

This period study focuses on the development of Germany during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of democracy and dictatorship – the development and collapse of democracy and the rise and fall of Nazism. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: Germany and the growth of democracy

Part two: Germany and the Depression

Part three: The experiences of Germans under the Nazis

AC Russia, 1894–1945: Tsardom and communism

This period study focuses on the development of Russia during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of autocracy and communism – the fall of the Tsardom and the rise and consolidation of communism. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: The end of Tsardom

Part two: Lenin’s new society

Part three: Stalin’s USSR

AD America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality

This period study focuses on the development of the USA during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of opportunity and inequality – when some Americans lived the ‘American Dream’ whilst others grappled with the nightmare of poverty, discrimination and prejudice. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: American people and the ‘Boom’

Part two: Bust – Americans’ experiences of the Depression and New Deal

Part three: Post-war America

Section B: Wider world depth studies

BA Conflict and tension: the First World War, 1894–1918

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of the Great Powers and other states. It focuses on the causes, nature and conclusion of the First World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred, and why it proved difficult to bring the war to a conclusion. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: The causes of the First World War

Part two: The First World War: stalemate

Part three: Ending the war

BB Conflict and tension: the inter-war years, 1918–1939

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different individuals and states including the Great Powers. It looks at concepts such as national self-determination, ideas of internationalism and the challenges of revising the peace settlement. It focuses on the causes of the Second World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the issues which caused it. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: Peace making

Part two: The League of Nations and international peace

Part three: The origins and outbreak of the Second World War

BC Conflict and tension between East and West, 1945–1972

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different states and individuals and the ideologies they represented. It considers revolutionary movements during this time. It focuses on the causes and events of the Cold War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the tensions which arose during the Cold War. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: The origins of the Cold War

Part two: The development of the Cold War

Part three: Transformation of the Cold War

BD Conflict and tension in Asia, 1950–1975

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different states and individuals and the ideologies they represented. It considers the role of nationalist movements in causing and sustaining conflict. It focuses on the causes and events of the Cold War in Asia and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the tensions which arose. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: Conflict in Korea

Part two: Escalation of conflict in Vietnam

Part three: The ending of conflict in Vietnam

BE Conflict and tension in the Gulf and Afghanistan, 1990–2009

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different groups, races, nations and rogue states. It focuses on conflict in the Gulf and Afghanistan and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the tensions which arose. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: Tensions in the Gulf

Part two: The war on Al-Qaeda

Part three: The Iraq War

Paper 2: ‘Shaping the nation’

Section A: Thematic Studies

AA Britain: Health and the people: c1000 to the present day

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of how medicine and public health developed in Britain over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of short- and long-term developments, their impact on British society and how they were related to the key features and characteristics of the periods during which they took place. Although the focus of this study is the development of medicine and public health in Britain, it will draw on wider world developments that impacted on the core themes. Students will have the opportunity to see how some ideas and events in the wider world affected Britain and will promote the idea that key themes did not develop in isolation, but these ideas and events should be referenced in terms of their effects on the core theme for Britain and British people.

Part one: Medicine stands still

Part two: The beginnings of change

Part three: A revolution in medicine

Part four: Modern medicine

BB Britain: Power and the people: c1170 to the present day

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of the development of the relationship between the citizen and the state in Britain over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of protest to that relationship. By charting the journey from feudalism and serfdom to democracy and equality, it reveals how, in different periods, the state responds to challenges to its authority and their impact. It allows students to construct an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the citizen. Students will have the opportunity to see how ideas, events or developments in the wider world affected the course of Britain’s political development and will promote the idea that ideas of authority, challenge and rights did not develop in isolation, but these developments should be seen in terms of how they affected Britain and British people.

Part one: Challenging authority and feudalism

Part two: Challenging royal authority

Part three: Reform and reformers

Part four: Equality and rights

AC Britain: Migration, empires and the people: c790 to the present day

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of how the identity of the people of Britain has been shaped by their interaction with the wider world. It will consider invasions and conquests. It will also study the country’s relationship with Europe and the wider world. It will consider the ebb and flow of peoples into and out of Britain and evaluate their motives and achievements. It considers the causes, impact and legacy of Empire upon the ruled and the ruling in the context of Britain’s acquisition and retreat from Empire.

Part one: Conquered and conquerors

Part two: Looking west

Part three: Expansion and empire

Part four: Britain in the 20th century

Section B: British Depth Studies

BA Norman England, c1066–c1100

This option allows students to study in depth the arrival of the Normans and the establishment of their rule. The depth study will focus on major aspects of Norman rule, considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints of this period and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

Part one: The Normans: conquest and control

Part two: Life under the Normans

Part three: The Norman Church and monasticism

Part four: The historic environment of Norman England

BB Medieval England – the reign of Edward I, 1272–1307

This option allows students to study in depth Medieval England and the reign of Edward I. The depth study will focus on the major events of the reign of Edward considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoint, and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

Part one: Government, the rights of King and people

Part two: Life in Medieval England

Part three: Edward I’s military campaigns in Wales and Scotland

Part four: The historic environment of Medieval England

BC Elizabethan England, c1568–1603

This option allows students to study in depth a specified period, the last 35 years of Elizabeth I’s reign. The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth I’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints, and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

Part one: Elizabeth’s court and Parliament

Part two: Life in Elizabethan times

Part three: Troubles at home and abroad

Part four: The historic environment of Elizabethan England

BD Restoration England, 1660–1685

This option allows students to study in depth the restoration of the monarchy. The study will focus on the major aspects of Charles II’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints of this period and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

Part one: Crown, Parliament, plots and court life

Part two: Life in Restoration England

Part three: Land, trade and war

Part four: The historic environment of Restoration England

Assessment details

Assessment Objectives
The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives:

  • AO1 demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key features and characteristics of the period studied.
  • AO2 explain and analyse historical events and periods studied using second-order historical concepts.
  • AO3 analyse, evaluate and use sources (contemporary to the period) to make substantiated judgements, in the context of historical events studied.
  • AO4 analyse, evaluate and make substantiated judgements about interpretations (including how and why interpretations may differ) in the context of historical events studied.
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