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.

Every two years, the Department runs a trip for 4th and 5th form to the WW1 battlefields of France and Belgium. 

Head of Department - Mr Darren Tolan MA, PGDE

Miss Jessica Kaye, MSc

Mr Richard Myers, BEd, BA

Mr Tom Norton, BA University of Bristol, MA, PGCE

Mr Guy Draper, BA PGCE

Second Form

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.

Third Form

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.

Pupils will study the new OCR History A (Explaining the Modern World) J410 specification. This consists of three modules.

Component One – Period Study and Non-British Depth Study J410/02

The Period Study will be on International Relations 1918-c.2014. Content will include: The Inter-war years and the origins of the Second World War, the Treaty of Versailles, League of Nations, the Great Depression, Appeasement, The Origins of the Cold War in Europe and Asia, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Détente, the Soviets in Afghanistan, the World after the Cold War, the rise of Al Qaeda, 9/11, the War on Terror, the emergence of IS.

The Non-British Depth Study will be on Germany 1925-55. Content will include: Rise of the Nazi Regime 1925-34, Nazi Germany 1933-39 and World War Two and its legacy in Germany 1939-55.

This will culminate in a 1 hr 45 minute paper worth 50% of the total GCSE.


Component Two – Thematic Study J410/09

The Thematic study will be of Power: Monarchy and Democracy c. 1000 to 2014. Content will include: the Norman Conquest, Magna Carta, Wars of the Roses, the Tudors, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Glorious Revolution, the Jacobites, the Reform Acts, votes for Women, the rise of the Labour Party, impact of the World Wars on the state, creation of the NHS, Thatcher, the Miner’s strikes, Devolution.

This will culminate in a 1 hr examination worth 25% of the GCSE.


Component Three – British Depth Study and a study of the Historic environment  J410/12

The British Depth Study will be on the English Reformation 1520-1550. Content will include: Henry VIII’s attempts at divorce, the Reformation parliaments, Dissolution of the Monasteries, the role of Thomas Cromwell, Pilgrimage of Grace, responses to religious change.

The study of the Historic environment will be on Castles: Form and function. The OCR provide a site to study (in the case of examination in 2018 this will be Framlingham Castle, Suffolk) which we will then study comparatively with a more locally accessible site, most likely Stirling Castle.

This will culminate in a 1 hr 15 minute examination worth 25% of the GCSE.


The purpose of the GCSE syllabus is to impart historical knowledge and to develop skills of both historical and of general value. These include the ability to select, deploy, analyse, evaluate, interpret and to present arguments and balanced discussion.

History is a vast and almost infinite subject but the skills remain the same whether studying Stalin or Genghis Khan. The Glenalmond OCR syllabus is deliberately constructed to provide both depth and perspective which is valued by Universities rather than ultimately emerging with a focus on Modern History to the exclusion of other periods in which the foundations of our society are to be found. They have been praised by HMIE (2009) for both their depth and delivery. This said, the Department reserves the right to develop new specialisms and courses may be subject to change. It may well be that different block choices mean different courses in one of the modules.

Course Description 

Candidates study a British period and a Non British period of History.


Unit 1 British Period Study

The British period will be (Y138) The Early Stuarts and the Civil War 1603-1660.

(Y138) The Stuarts and the Civil War will consider the reigns of James I and Charles I and the conflict brought about by the Divine Right of Kings which caused the Civil War and the execution of the monarch. It will also consider the strengthening of Limited Monarchy and the resurgence of Parliament as well as the Cromwellian Protectorate.

Both units will be examined by a one and a half hour paper which will contain one compulsory source question worth 30 marks and an essay question worth 20 marks.


Unit 2 Non British Period Study

The Non British Period Study will be

(Y246) The USA in the 19th Century: Westward expansion and Civil War c. 1803-c. 1890. This will focus on the expansion of the USA Westward as well as the effect on the Native American population. It will then move on to look at the course and consequences of the Civil War.

This will be examined by a one and a half hour paper which will give candidates the choice of two questions. In the first section they will have to compare two historical interpretations and come to a conclusion in their argument worth 20 marks. They will then have to answer an essay question worth 20 marks.


Course Content

Unit 1 British Period Study                     50 marks      One hour 30 minutes paper                          25%

There will be one compulsory question in which candidates will be given four primary sources to analyse/evaluate. This will be followed by an essay question.


Unit 2 Non British Period Study              30 marks      One hour paper                                             15%

There will be one compulsory question which will ask candidates to compare the relative importance of two factors. This will be followed by an essay question essay.


Unit 3 Thematic Study                             80 marks      Two hours 30 minutes exam                       40%

(Y306) Rebellion and Disorder under the Tudors 1485–1603

(Y306) Rebellion and Disorder under the Tudors 1485–1603 will involve a study of twenty different revolts and examine their causes. This module is synoptic and aims to bring together continuity and change, different reasons and triggers for revolt as well as examining comparisons and differences.

There will be one compulsory question when candidates are asked to analyse and interpret two Historian’s views. This will be followed by two essay from a choice of three.


Unit 4 Coursework                  (Y100/03 or 04)       40 marks                                                      20%

Pupils must produce a 3000 – 4000-word essay on a topic of their choosing (except the topics covered in depth in Unit 3). Unlike the other three units, the essays for Unit 4 are marked internally and then moderated by the exam board (all other units are marked externally).     


Recommended Entry Requirements

Preferably at least a B at GCSE or Standard Grade is required for those who choose A Level History. However equivalent grades in other arts subjects will also serve as qualification for those who wish to take up History in the Sixth Form.


Subject Combinations

History is very often taken in combination with English, Economics, Politics, a Modern Language, Latin or Geography and it also combines well with Mathematics. Biology is also often taken alongside History. 


Careers and Higher Education

Those who have studied History should end up possessing some invaluable skills. A pupil who has studied the course should aim to emerge with the ability to research, evaluate and synthesise information, to present a logical argument, and to write analytical and objective reports. Such skills make historians in demand in many different fields of employment. Many of our historians go on to study at major Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Manchester, King’s College London, Leeds, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Historians are to be found not only in the more obvious fields such as archive and museum work and teaching, but also in management, banking and commerce, the media, politics, publishing and the law. History graduates include several well-known TV personalities like Jonathan Ross, Louis Theroux, Jeremy Bowen, Dermot Murnaghan, and Michael Palin. They also include those who have made their name in industry such as David Sainsbury (CEO Sainsburys), Roland Smith (former Director of the Bank of England, Director of Manchester United), Anita Roddick (founder of the Body Shop), Anthony Hudson and Charles Smith (former CEOs of ICI). Other celebrities such as the comedian Al Murray, the Hollywood actor Edward Norton and the pop star Shakira also have degrees in History. An A Level in History could be the first step on the road to fame or fortune and it certainly can be an invaluable asset as a preparation for university level study in a wide diversity of subjects. As a degree subject on its own, or in combination with another discipline, the possibilities are limitless.

Purpose of the Course

In History, learners develop their understanding of the world by learning about other people and their values, in different times, places and circumstances. This course will encourage learners to develop important attitudes, including: an open mind and respect for the values, beliefs and cultures of others; openness to new thinking and ideas; and a sense of responsibility and global citizenship. History contributes to learners’ understanding of the society in which they live and work by helping them to develop an appreciation and understanding of the forces which have shaped the world today.

The purpose of the course is to open up the world of the past for learners. History provides learners with insights into their own lives and of the society and the wider world in which they live. By examining the past, learners can better understand their own communities, their country and the wider world. Through an understanding of the concept of continuity, they can better appreciate change and its significance, both in their own times and in the past. The learner will acquire breadth and depth in their knowledge and understanding of the past through the study of Scottish, British, European and world contexts in a variety of time periods.


Comparison with A Level History

At A Level, 3 topics (80% of A Level grade) plus a 4000 word assignment (20%) are completed over two years. By comparison, in the Higher course, 3 topics are covered (66% of the Higher grade) as well as a timed-essay (33%). 

The Higher is assessed by one terminal examination whereas the A Level has three terminal examinations. Both have an assignment component to be completed at some point during the course.


SQA Higher Assessment Structure

SQA Higher History is assessed through two components: a question paper and an assignment. The question paper is worth a total of 60 marks – 20 marks for the Scottish unit, 20 marks for the British unit and 20 marks for the European and World unit. The assignment is worth a total of 30 marks.


Breakdown of the course

Section 1 – Historical Study: Scottish (Migration and Empire, 1830-1939)

Section 2 – Historical Study: British (Britain, 1851-1951)

Section 3 - Historical Study: European and World (USA, 1918-1968)

History Assignment: Pupils will identify a historical issue of their choosing which invites debate and argument. They will then research and investigate the historical issue, using a range of sources of information, in order to write up an essay within 1 hour and 30 minutes.