History is a widely respected qualification for careers such as Law, Accountancy, the Civil Service, the Armed Services, Journalism, Banking and Teaching.
Apart from its intrinsically broad academic and cultural values, it provides training in handling and assessing evidence and in presenting clear, substantiated argument and analysis, which is an asset whatever career option is chosen. Every year it is a popular uptake as a subject to read at University. Many of our historians go on to study at major Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Manchester, Leeds, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The Department has been praised by HMIE for both depth and delivery. The subject requires reflection, reading and a sharpened mind.
The pupils start with an apprenticeship course where they learn about chronology, how to tackle source and a general introduction to how historians work with evidence to come to a conclusion. They then study the medieval History of England and Scotland in a course which is based upon the Common Entrance syllabus. Topics include the Norman Conquest, a general consideration of Medieval Life in towns and countryside. Pupils then focus on the development of Castles. They also consider the role of religion and the power of the Church and, Henry II and Becket.
History in the Third Form provides a grounding in some of the culture changing movements that have shaped the world, covering the issues of the Reformation, Renaissance, and the French Revolution, whilst providing an understanding of the key techniques required for further study at GCSE instilling the powers of analysis and the wherewithal to cope with evidence and to seek the truth. They consider the power of the medieval Church, the challenges posed by Martin Luther and the subsequent reform movement. In the Lent term they receive an introduction to the Italian and the Northern Renaissance and carry out their own research project. In the Trinity term they examine the coming of the French Revolution.
In a new syllabus in keeping with the commemoration of the next few years the Fourth Form will follow the OCR Modern World Syllabus. They will learn about the increasing tension between the Great Powers, 1890–1914. This will feature the breakdown of the Alliance System tensions between the colonial powers. This will involve a detailed study of the situation in the Balkans and the escalation of the arms race. It will consider the flash points caused by the Kaiser in North Africa. They will then focus on World War One from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand onwards. They will examine the Western Front and the breakdown of the Schlieffen plan, the War at Sea, the War in the Air and the Eastern Front.
The second part of the course will consider the Interwar years the making of the Peace Treaties, the formation of the League of Nations and its success and failures and the run down the World War Two.
Candidates will also study for the OCR Modern World Syllabus and will carry out a controlled assessment on an aspect of Weimar Germany or Russia 1890-1945. They will then prepare for a Source based paper. The topics in the new course are varied and indeed pupils will be encouraged to ask relatives about their memories of the latter period which ranges from the foundation of the welfare system and the National Health Service to the advance of Pop music the start of immigration and the attitudes to female liberation and the views on the impact of contraception.
History is very often taken in combination with English, Economics, a Modern Language, Latin or Geography; it also combines well with Mathematics and Biology. It is preferable to hold a B grade at GCSE or Standard Grade for those who choose AS/A2 Level History. History is a robust and respected subject which involves thought and reading. However equivalent grades in other arts subjects will also serve as qualification for those who wish to take up History in the Sixth Form. At AS and through to A2 it is perfectly possible, after consultation, to take up History without any previous qualification in the subject. We have had students who have not taken History at GCSE take it up in the Sixth Form but this is unusual and should be both checked and monitored by advice from the Head Of Department.
In the Lower Sixth pupils follow two courses which are intrinsically different and reflect the skills that an historian should have at their fingertips. We follow the OCR syllabus. Candidates begin by having an introduction to the real medieval world. They soon begin to understand the relationship and themes and undercurrents that have helped to shape our world. The first course examines the impact of the Norman Conquest on Europe and covers the dominance of the super Norman race over the sophisticated Saxons! It considers the two trademarks of the Normans – Castles and Cathedrals and examines the impact this had on the formation of government. It is examined by a Source based paper. They then go on Crusade and are grounded in why this movement started in the 11th Century, fight their way to Jerusalem and follow the Second and Third Crusades through. They learn about Holy War and start to get a basic understanding of militant Christianity and Islam which still affects our modern world.
Accessing the OCR Syllabus senior pupils go on to study a Historiographical view of an individual in History. This is where the syllabus diversifies. They make a study of either King John or Philip II. They then carry out two pieces of coursework (2000 words). The first is an investigation into how aspects of their respective reigns have been interpreted by historians. The second is their own private research on a particular topic connected with these two individuals. They are asked to be the judge and the jury on these diverse reigns. The last course is a Thematic study which concentrates on an examination of Tudor Rebellions over a whole century. Whilst candidates have a good grounding in the background to the Tudor Dynasty they are concerned with comparing and contrasting the many rebellions both in England and Ireland during the period.
Mr Lewis Rattray MA (Hons) Aberdeen, MLitt Edinburgh, PGDE (Acting Head of Department)
Miss Jessica Kaye MSc Aberystwyth (Housemistress of Lothian)
Mr Charles Youlten BA (Hons) Manchester, PGCE