Why study History?

As well as being immensely enjoyable in its own right, studying History at A Level will ensure that you are studying an academically rigorous subject which is well respected by both universities and employers alike. 

Recent changes to the history curriculum at Advanced Level have also retained the independent study component. This gives you free choice to investigate any area of history that interests you and submit an essay on this.

History will also teach you a wide range of transferable skills. Principally you will acquire the ability to understand and analyse issues and events to a high level of competence. Other marketable skills include:

  • Talent for clear expression, both oral and written;
  • Putting forward ideas and arguments in a concise manner;
  • Gathering, investigating and assessing material;
  • Basing conclusions on research and generating ideas;
  • Organising material in a logical and coherent way.     

What does the course cover and what is expected of you?

There are now two qualifications that you can study for at advanced level:

Advanced Subsidiary Level: this is now a stand-alone course made up of two units studied over one year.
Advanced GCE in History: this course is made up of four units (including one non-exam unit), studied over two years.

1. OCR Advanced Subsidiary Level History.  History A (H105)

This course is now a standalone course made up of two units studied over 1 year

Unit 1:  A British period study and enquiry.

England 1455-1509: Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry V11. Enquiry Topic: Wars of the Roses 1455-(Y135)

This is a source based study.

1 hour 30 minutes paper.

Worth 50% of the total AS

Unit 2: Non-British period study

Democracy and Dictatorship in Germany 1919-1963

This paper develops analysis and evaluation skills.

1 hr 30 mins paper

50% of total AS

2.     OCR Advanced GCE in History A (H505)

This course is made up of four units studies over two years.

Unit 1: British period Study and Enquiry. (Y105)

England 1455-1509: Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry V11.  Enquiry Topic: Wars of the Roses 1455-1461

Source bases enquiry.

25% of total A Level.

1 hour 30 minute paper.

Unit 2: Non- British period study (Y213)

Democracy and Dictatorship in Germany 1919-1963

This unit develops your knowledge, understanding and ability to form a judgement.

I hour paper

15% of total A Level

Unit 3: Thematic study and historical interpretations (Y 306)

Popular culture and the Witchcraze of the 16th and 17th centuries

Change and continuity over a, substantial period of history with depth studies.

2 hours 30 minutes paper

40% of total A Level

Unit 4: Topic based essay. Non exam.

This unit brings together all of the skills you have learnt in history and enables you to explore an aspect of history that interests you.

Complete a 3000- 4000 word essay on a topic of your choice.

20% of total A Level

Where can it take you?

At first glance, history graduates might appear suited mainly to roles such as museum curators or history teachers, but the skills they have gained will prepare them well for numerous careers.

A significant number enter the legal profession, where their analytical and critical reasoning skills are highly valued, as well as library, information and archivist careers, where their research expertise and ability to select, manage and organise information comes to the fore.

Politics, publishing, journalism, media and writing in all its forms are similarly suitable, alongside business, finance and commerce, science and engineering, public sector administration and the charity and voluntary sectors.

Entry requirements

Students are required to have five GCSE grades A-C. This should include a good pass in English and History. Students must also have an interest in the subject and in worldwide events in order to get most out of the course.

Exam Board


Student View

I am currently studying AS History, we are learning about the ‘Wars of the Roses’. It is all very interesting but you need to be prepared to learn lots of detail. ‘A’ Level history is so much more in depth than GCSE. It requires hard work, dedication and keeping up to date with your work, but that is really easily done with the right mind set and a keen interest in History. History is a good AS Level to have  as it shows you can analyse information and shows your intellect. Universities will be impressed with a History A level.

Teacher's Tip

History A Level is taught by specialist teachers in the department who are passionate about their subject specialisms. You will receive plenty of support to enable you to acquire the skills that you need to be successful at A Level.  If you enjoy history and are prepared for the challenge this is an exciting subject to consider.