Aims of the Subject

The overriding aims of the History Department are to inspire a genuine interest and enthusiasm for history and an appreciation of its importance. We aim to help all our students develop excellent transferable skills of communication, analytical thinking skills, and developing opinions. The course also seeks to make sense of an increasingly complicated and diverse society and to prepare Ilfracombe Academy students for taking an active part in the wider world. We believe enjoyment and achievement go hand in hand and it is certainly our aim that all who wish to study History at ‘the next level’, be that GCSE, A level or university, are able to do so and that they achieve the highest standards of which they are capable.  Consequently, we look to achieve our aims by teaching a wide range of interesting courses, adopting a wide range of teaching and learning strategies and prioritising achievement for everyone of all abilities.

Curriculum overview:

Key Stage 3

The content that students will study is outlined below for each year group. We follow an enquiry based approach and have included examples of some of the enquiry questions students will investigate

Year 7

In Year 7 all pupils study:

The Norman Conquest and Norman England
Medieval Life
Medieval Monarchs
The Black Death

The Tudor Monarchs
The English Civil War

Enquiry questions:

What is History?
Why did William win the Battle of Hastings?
What were medieval castles really like?
Who killed Thomas a Becket?
How important was the Magna Carta?
What was the impact of the Black Death?
Why was the medieval church so important?

Year 8

In Year 8 all pupils study:
The French Revolution
The Industrial Revolution
Slavery and the Slave Trade
Black Civil Rights

Enquiry questions:

Why did Henry become supreme head of the Church in England?
What problems did Elizabeth I face?
Why did the Spanish Armada fail?
What were the causes of the English Civil War?
How significant was Robespierre?
How did railways change the face of Britain?

Year 9

In Year 9 all pupils study:

World War I
Women and the Vote
World War II
The Holocaust
The Cold War

Enquiry questions:

What were the causes of the Great War?
What was life like in the trenches?
Did violence help or hinder  the Suffragette Movement?
Why did Hitler’s promises appeal to the German people?
What was lost during the Holocaust?
Can the dropping of the Atomic Bomb be justified?
Why did the East and West distrust each other

Key Stage 4

Key Stage 4


KS4 students opting to study History at GCSE level study the Edexcel (9-1) History GCSE. This is split down into the following units:

Paper 1: Thematic study and historic environment.
Medicine in History c1250-present. 30% of the GCSE. 1 hour 15 minute exam in Y11.

Paper 2: Period study and British depth study.
Early Elizabethan England 1558-1588. Superpower relations and the Cold War 1941-1991. 40% of the GCSE. 1 hour 45 min exam.

Paper 3: Modern depth study.
Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918-1939. 30% of the GCSE. 1 hour 20 min exam

Key Stage 5

A Level Students follow the ‘OCR A Level in History A’ specification.

Year 12
Unit 1: British Period study and enquiry: Britain 1930-1951

Enquiry topic: Churchill 1930-1951

This is an enquiry and sourced-based study coupled with an outline period study. It includes a study of Churchill as wartime Prime Minister. 25% of overall A Level. 1 hour 30 min exam at the end of Year 13.

Unit 2: Non British period study: The USA in the 19th Century.

Westward expansion and Civil War 1803-1890.

This topic includes the causes and impacts of expansion across America, including the need and use of railways, the concept of ‘manifest destiny’, steamboats, telegraph, the Mormons, as well as the fur trade, gold-mining and many other aspects of what we know as the ‘Wild West’. In addition, it covers the culture and society of Native Americans and the ‘Indian Wars’ together with the American Civil War. 15% of the overall A Level. 1 hour exam at the end of Y13.

Year 13

Unit 3: Thematic Study and interpretations: Unit Y306: Rebellion and Disorder under the Tudors 1485–1603

This theme focuses on the causes, nature and extent of disorder in England and Ireland during this period. The following revolts and rebellions are studied: Lovel, Simnel, Yorkshire, Warbeck, Cornish, Amicable Grant, Kildare, Pilgrimage of Grace, Western, Kett, local unrest 1549, Northumberland, Wyatt, Shane O’Neill, Northern Earls, Fitzgerald, Geraldine, Tyrone, O’Neill, Oxfordshire and Essex. Students will look at the reigns of the Tudor monarchs to establish the context for the different rebellions.  As well as understanding the causes of the rebellions, students will study why the majority of these rebellions ultimately failed.  Students will study the impact of these rebellions and how the government responded in both the short and long-term to maintain political stability.

 Unit 4: Personal Study: Topic based essay 3,000-4,000 words.

This is the ‘jewel in the crown’ for any budding historian: the chance to choose a historical topic and research it in depth, decide upon a question and then answer it in a piece of extended written work. Past topics have included: Secret Operations of WW2; The Holocaust; Ghengis Khan; Abraham Lincoln; The Abolition of Slavery. 20% of overall A Level. Essay written as coursework during Y13.

For further information please contact:
Nick Beesly – Head of History and Geography


Content updated September 2018