Peter Symonds College

Study at PSC

Course Content

History is one of the most popular courses at Peter Symonds. Students study three exam units over the two years on the A Level course as well as writing a 4,000 word piece of coursework.

Our students have a choice of three History routes, any of which will result in an A Level History qualification. They will be taught and examined in the same way and you should make your choice on the basis of which period you think will interest you the most. Although we anticipate the majority of students choosing to follow the same route through the two years it should be possible for Route A students to switch at the end of the first year if they wish.

Year One

  • Breadth Study - The Crusades c1095-1204
    There has never been a better or more relevant time to study the Crusades. As well as learning about figures such as Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, this unit also offers a glimpse into medieval life, beliefs and values. You will also study relations between Christians and Muslims during the era of the Crusades and the development of concepts such as jihad and the idea of a ‘just war’.
  • Unit 2: Depth Study - Henry II and the Angevin Empire 1154-89
    In the second unit you will learn about Henry II who became Duke of Normandy aged 16, and king of England at 21. Our study of Henry’s thirty-five year reign examines how he tried to ensure justice for all his subjects, his difficulties controlling the enormous Angevin empire and the problems with his rebellious sons as well as his ruinous dispute with Thomas Becket. 

Year Two 

  • Unit 3 - The Wars of the Roses and the establishment of the Tudors
    In the second year, the exam unit focuses on the dramatic century of crisis, upheaval and rebellion that led to the defeat of Richard III in 1485 and brought Henry VII and the Tudor dynasty to the throne. You will learn about the personalities and characters that were key to the Wars of the Roses and consider the wider lessons about how kings controlled (or failed to control) their realms in early modern England.
  • Coursework option
    The coursework unit is an opportunity for students to engage in real historical debate. You will be required to take three contrasting opinions on a particular historical issue and weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments using your own research and evidence. The focus of enquiry in this unit will be either the Abolition of the Slave Trade or the Cold War, students will be given some choice in the exact piece of coursework they do.

Methods of Teaching

A variety of methods are used to teach the course, including class discussion and debate, group work, and presentations.

The nature of the course also means that student will engage with evaluating contemporary sources and will be required to research events and analyse different historical interpretations with some degree of independence

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

Unit 1: Written examination; 2 hours and 15 minutes (30% of total A Level mark)

Unit 2: Written examination; 1 hour 30 minutes (20% of total A Level mark)

Unit 3: Written examination; 2 hours and 15 minutes (30% of total A Level mark)

Unit 4: Coursework assignment of 4000 words (20% of total A Level mark).

Where Could It Take Me?

History is useful for any career which involves researching and analysing information and expressing arguments based upon evidence. Good examples of this are careers in the Civil Service, banking and accountancy, politics, social and business administration, teaching, journalism and law management.

Financial Implications

Students are required to purchase text books for the units that they study. They will also be given the opportunity to participate in educational visits and trips. We have developed a Crusades study day with Royal Holloway University and we are planning a trip to Istanbul this coming year. We also run more local trips to the National Portrait Gallery, Southampton city walls and Chalke Valley History Festival. The College has a Student Support Fund for anyone who has difficulty meeting these costs.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including Mathematics and English.

It is not a requirement to have studied History at GCSE provided you have an interest in the subject.

Most Recent Results

Below is a summary of the most recent set of results for this subject:

Grade: A* A B C D E U Total
Total: 0 18 30 16 0 2 0 66
Percentage 0.0 27.3 45.5 24.2 0.0 3.0 0.0