Topic outline

  • Welcome to History

    Hi, and welcome to A-level History at Stockton Sixth Form.

    What and how will I study?

    The course (which follows the AQA specification) consists of three topics, two examined and one coursework:
    • The Tudors: England 1485-1603 (exam)
    • America: a nation divided c1845-1877 (exam)
    • Russian rulers, 1856-1964 (coursework)

    Each week, we study the two exam topics, and you will start the coursework towards the end of the first year.

    You will be given notes for each topic and will read them in advance of the lesson. This way of working is really important: when you come to the lesson, you will already know quite a bit about the topic and we can use lesson time to have discussions and debates rather than spending time on basic information.

    What makes a good History student?

    First of all, you will enjoy studying the past! 

    Good History students like reading about, discussing and debating the past. You will not always expect clear answers, and you understand that there are many interpretations of events that happened long ago. 

    You are prepared to use resources to extend your knowledge beyond the notes and lessons: online lectures, articles from good history web sites, books from the classroom. You are curious, open-minded and willing to challenge your own ideas.

    It doesn't matter whether or not you have studied anything about the topics above: some in the class will have studied, say, Elizabeth or the American West, but others won't have. It doesn't matter. The A-level will take everyone into new territory!

    How can I prepare for A-level History?

    Below are some tasks that will introduce you to the exam topics and some resources.

    You can find a wealth of resources online, especially for the Civil War topic - American universities and organisations are very generous (and well-funded!).The Digital History site and the Ken Burns documentary series (below) are excellent for exploring the America topic. 

    For the Tudors, why not try History Extra (linked to the BBC History magazine) for short articles and podcasts?

    Just dive in and find something that interests you - and see where it takes you. If you keep a note of what you read and what you find out (a History diary?), please show it to me when you come in September: I'd love to see what you have discovered!

    • Week 1: Causes of the American Civil War

      One of the exam topics is America: a nation divided, which explores the American Civil War in depth. This topic is still highly relevant today in the United States, and you will study topics including slavery, civil rights, and political decisions, as well as the Civil War itself. 

      As a quick introduction to the Civil War, watch the video below.


      [If you want a longer introduction, try the acclaimed documentary by Ken Burns .
      It is available on Netflix, too


      What do you learn about the causes of the American Civil War from the video(s)? Share your ideas using the forum below.

    • Week 2: Primary sources

      TheThe Digital History web site is a great resource for the America: A nation divided component of the course.

      The most relevant sections are Pre-Civil War era, Slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction (the first two relate to the first year of the course). Any of the material in these sections will be useful. 

      Those who have studied the American West at GCSE will find some cross-over here, although our course does not involve the plight of Native Americans. 


      Working with primary sources is a key skill for historians. 

      Read an extract from an account of his life in slavery by Frederick Douglass

      • What do you learn from this source about the life of a slave in the United States? 
      • Do you think this source of information is a valuable one for historians? What makes it valuable, or limited?

      Share your comments using the forum below.

      Frederick Douglass

      The Digital History web site has a wealth of primary sources. Below is a link to one of them - but you could choose your own by visiting the Digital History web site: choose one of the relevant sections for the first year of the course (Pre-Civil War, slavery) and then click the 'Documents' link. 

    • Week 3: The missing Tudors

      As part of the course 1C The Tudors, you will study Tudor society: the main groups, like peasants and nobles, and how their lives changed during the Tudor period.

      Image from article

      One group that is often underrepresented in Tudor history courses is the black people of Tudor England. Find out about their history by reading this article from the History Extra web site (linked to BBC History magazine).

      The missing Tudors: Black people in 16th-century England.


      Find out more about black history from the Guardian: Black history timeline. Download the treasure hunt and see if you can find the answers to all the questions using the timeline.

    • Week 4: Before the Tudors ...

      Get ready for the start of the course by finding out what happened before the first Tudor king, Henry VII, came to the throne.

      Did you know that 'Game of Thrones' was based to a large extent on the period of English history called the Wars of the Roses? This period came immediately before the first Tudor king, Henry VII, so knowing a bit about it is essential for understanding who the Tudors were and where they came from.

      The video below explains some parallels between the Wars of the Roses and Game of Thrones, but it also explains really well how Henry Tudor (who became Henry VII) won the throne. You can ignore the GoT references, if you like.



      Given the situation in England before Henry VII came to the throne, what do you think his priorities would have been? 

      Try the multiple-choice question below.