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History A Level

Subject: History

History is about people and people are complex, fascinating and a whole lot of other things besides. That is why History is probably the most comprehensive and certainly one of the most intriguing subjects there is!

What do students learn at KS5?

The curriculum at KS5 builds on the knowledge and understanding students have amassed during their study of History in KS3 and KS4. Over the course of the two years of A level, students will gain a deeper understanding of the past through political, social, economic, and cultural perspectives. Students will engage with two historical topics which will provide them with the knowledge and skills required to be a successful historian.

Over the course of KS5 students will study

Year 12


Henry VII, 1485–1509

  • Henry Tudor’s consolidation of power: character and aims; establishing the Tudor dynasty
  • Government: councils, parliament, justice, royal finance, domestic policies
  • Relationships with Scotland and other foreign powers; securing the succession; marriage alliances
  • Society: churchmen, nobles and commoners; regional division; social discontent and rebellions
  • Economic development: trade, exploration, prosperity and depression
  • Religion; humanism; arts and learning

Henry VIII, 1509–1547

  • Henry VIII: character and aims; addressing Henry VII’s legacy
  • Government: Crown and Parliament, ministers, domestic policies including the establishment of Royal Supremacy
  • Relationships with Scotland and other foreign powers; securing the succession
  • Society: elites and commoners; regional issues and the social impact of religious upheaval; rebellion
  • Economic development: trade, exploration, prosperity and depression
  • Religion: renaissance ideas; reform of the Church; continuity and change by 1547

Cold War

The Origins of the Cold War, c1945–1949

  • US, British and USSR relations in 1945: conflicting ideologies; tensions at Yalta; relations between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill; the breakdown of the Grand Alliance at Potsdam; relations between Stalin, Truman and Attlee
  • Developing tensions: the Soviet Union occupation/control of eastern and southern Europe; Kennan's Long Telegram; the Iron Curtain speech; Cominform; the Greek Civil War and the Truman Doctrine on containment
  • The USA’s involvement in Europe: policy towards Britain and Europe; the launch of the Marshall Plan; US attitudes to Germany and Berlin
  • Conflict over Germany: developments within the sectors, including Bizonia and currency reform; the Berlin blockade; the creation of East and West Germany; formation of NATO

The Widening of the Cold War, 1949–1955

  • US containment in action in Asia: the reconstruction of Japan and US-Japanese relations; support for Jiang Jieshi and policy towards China and Taiwan; the defensive perimeter strategy; support for South Korea; NSC- 68
  • The Korean War causes, position and aims of Kim ll Sung and Syngman Rhee; attitudes and actions of the UN, USA, USSR and China; military involvement and settlement
  • Increasing Cold War tensions: McCarthyism in the USA and its influence in Britain and Europe; US dominance in the UN and role as 'world policeman'; the isolation of China
  • Alliances and shifts: FRG and NATO; the Warsaw Pact; SEATO; Eisenhower, Dulles and 'brinkmanship'; the domino theory; attitude to French struggle in Indo-China; the Geneva Conference

The Global War, 1955–1963

  • Khrushchev and East-West relations: impact of risings in Poland and Hungary and Soviet intervention; the degree of 'peaceful coexistence', including exchange of visits and Paris summit
  • Cold War rivalries: the extension of the arms race including ICBMs; the space race; sputnik and space flight; the Berlin Crisis and the U2 affair; the significance and impact of the Berlin Wall
  • Conflict in Asia: Indo-China under Ho Chi-Minh in the North and Diem in the South; formation of NLF; Kennedy's policies towards Indo-China and Diem's assassination
  • Confrontation between the superpowers: US attitudes to Cuba and developments leading to the missile crisis; the 13 days; the significance of the crisis
Year 13


The ‘Mid-Tudor Crisis', 1547–1563

  • Edward VI, Somerset and Northumberland; royal authority; problems of succession; relations with foreign powers
  • The social impact of religious and economic changes under Edward VI; rebellion; intellectual developments; humanist and religious thought
  • Mary I and her ministers; royal authority; problems of succession; relations with foreign powers
  • The social impact of religious and economic changes under Mary I; rebellion; intellectual developments; humanist and religious thought

Elizabeth I

  • Character and aims; consolidation of power, including the Act of Settlement and relations with foreign powers
  • The impact of economic, social and religious developments in the early years of Elizabeth's rule
  • Elizabethan government: court, ministers and parliament; factional rivalries
  • Foreign affairs: issues of succession; Mary, Queen of Scots; relations with Spain
  • Society: continuity and change; problems in the regions; social discontent and rebellions
  • Economic development: trade, exploration and colonisation; prosperity and depression
  • Religious developments, change and continuity; the English renaissance and ‘the Golden Age’ of art, literature and music
  • The last years of Elizabeth: the state of England politically, economically, religiously and socially by 1603

Cold War

Confrontation and cooperation, c1963–1972

  • Confrontation in the Vietnam War: Johnson's policy in Vietnam; the Gulf of Tonkin resolution; escalation; tactics and relative strengths of the two sides; the Tet Offensive
  • Nixon's policies in Vietnam: Vietnamisation; extension into Cambodia and Laos; relations with China; the beginning of the Paris peace talks
  • Cooperation: attitudes of Khrushchev and Kennedy; Hot-line; Moscow Test Ban Treaty; nuclear non- proliferation treaty; cut back in materials for nuclear weapons
  • Pressures on USSR: the crisis in Czechoslovakia and the Brezhnev doctrine; relations with China

The Brezhnev era, 1972–1985

  • The USA and SE Asia: Paris peace talks; Northern victory; continuing problems in Cambodia; costs of war
  • The extent of Détente up to 1979: the SALT talks; Ostpolitik and Helsinki accords; arms race; relations with China
  • The Second Cold War: the reasons for renewed hostilities and developments
  • Developments in Africa and the Americas: the impact of Cuban intervention in Angola and Ethiopia

 The ending of the Cold War, 1985–1991

  • Gorbachev and the ending of the Cold War: pressures on and significance of Gorbachev as Soviet leader; new thinking and practicalities: the importance of Soviet economic problems;
  • The summits between the USA and the USSR, including Geneva, Reykjavik
  • The collapse of Communism in the Eastern European soviet satellite states; the end of the Brezhnev Doctrine and significance of events of 1989
  • The ending of Cold War tensions in Asia: Afghanistan; the Americas: Cuba, Nicaragua and El Salvador; Africa: Angola and Ethiopia; the end of the Cold War: the Malta summit and its aftermath, including the reunification of Germany; the collapse of the USSR and resignation of Gorbachev

How will students receive feedback?

At Paddington, all students will receive regular feedback from formative assessment tasks. Within the curriculum, specific tasks are allocated for feedback. This ensures all students gain regular feedback. Teachers will mark student work and provide targeted feedback that enables students to improve their work and make progress. To support student understanding, teachers plan high-quality re-teach time to prepare students for their feedback. Across each term, students will receive feedback from multiple tasks.

What examinations / assessments do students have at the end of KS5?

Exam board: AQA

Paper 1 (2 hours 30 mins)

Tudor England, 1485-1603

  • Section A - Interpretation analysis
  • Section B – Two historical essays

Paper 2 (2 hours 30 mins)

The Cold War, 1945-1991

  • Section A - Source analysis
  • Section B – Two historical essays

Non-Examined Assessment (completed in Year 13)

The British Raj in India

  • Historical Research Essay

What resources can be used to support learning?

  • Students in KS5 have a carefully selected textbooks for both units that covers the content of the course and provides a set of exam question.
  • The 100% books are used to develop students’ knowledge of core knowledge in each cycle. Students can use this to revise key information through self-quizzing. 
  • Seneca learning is used to help students learn and memorise key context. Teachers set Seneca tasks weekly in addition to homework. 


Course Overview


Course Summary


Option Video



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