History is a very popular discipline at Gresham’s. The History Department strives to create an active learning environment which enthuses and inspires whilst also serving to cultivate the fundamental and ultimately transferable skills of source analysis, evaluation of interpretations and the structuring of extended written work.

We encourage all pupils to see the significance of our past and make every effort to frequently draw parallels and links between events in past centuries and those we observe today in our modern world. Independent learning, research and critical reflection are central to everything that we do.


In Year 9, pupils at Gresham’s study key events of the last century with an enquiry focus of how the Twentieth Century should be best remembered. For some pupils this may well be their first experience of studying History as a discrete subject and so to an extent we revisit some of the core skills we would anticipate historians at this level to have. We strive, by the end of Year 9, to have exposed students to genuine historical enquiries, the complexities of evidence handling and the structuring of extended written work so that they would be well served should they continue their studies at GCSE.

  • The Great War – with a particular focus on medicine on the Western Front
  • Weimar Germany and the Rise of Hitler
  • The Holocaust

The GCSE History course we offer is the Edexcel specification. The course focuses on the development of Medicine in Britain from c1250 to Present and Anglo Saxon and Norman England c.1060 – 1088. It also looks at the development of Communism in Russia and the impact this had upon American-Soviet Relations during the Cold War. In this respect it marries the best of the previous Schools History Project curriculum with the exciting and dramatic events of the Twentieth Century. This is a truly exciting specification which allows a genuine focus on breadth and depth!

All classes study the following topics:

Superpower Relations and the Cold War: 1941-1991
The period studies focus on the issues associated with the Cold War. Among many other things, this will involve focus on the origins of East-West rivalry, Berlin in 1961, Cuba in 1962, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the collapse of Communism in the USSR.

Anglo-Saxon and Norman England, c1060-1088
This depth study allows the student to revisit 1066 and to refine many of the basic assumptions made when they were fledgling historians! It focuses upon the Norman invasion of England and the immediate repercussions in terms of social, economic, political, religious and military impact. It requires students to study the origins of the Conquest and then the consolidation of Norman rule. Resistance to Norman rule, such as that of Hereward the Wake, is also covered.

Medicine in Britain, c1250-Present Day
The Medicine thematic study requires students to understand change and continuity across a broad sweep of history, including the most significant characteristics of different ages from the medieval to modern periods. Students will examine when and why ideas concerning the origins of disease and the methods of treatment changed over time.

Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917-1941
This unit focuses on the collapse of the Russian Monarchy and the reasons for the Bolshevik seizure of power in the second of two revolutions in 1917. The nature of Bolshevik rule under Lenin and the subsequent Civil War is then covered in depth. In addition students will examine the reasons for Stalin’s rise to power and the nature of his rule up to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

Students will face three examinations at the end of the course. Paper One (Medicine in Britain) carries a weighting of 30% of the final GCSE History grade and involves the analysis of contemporary sources. Paper Two comprises of two units (Anglo-Saxon and Norman England and Superpower Relations and the Cold War) and carries a weighting of 40% of the final grade. Paper Three (Russia and the Soviet Union) is worth the remaining 30% of the GCSE History Grade and involves analysis of contemporary sources and historical interpretations. The units are delivered in such a way as to allow the gradual development of skills which the exam papers will address.

These four topics are fascinating in themselves but, in the process of studying them, students will acquire important skills of analysis. These include the ability to explain cause and consequence, assess change, structure arguments, and to present and justify judgements. Students will also acquire the ability to synthesise, cross-reference and critically evaluate historical sources and representations of the past.


Entry requirements: C in IGCSE English or a minimum of a 5 in GCSE History would be preferred. What is essential is enthusiasm, commitment, enjoyment of reading and a genuine interest in the subject.

The A level History course is made up of two units, one providing breadth (wherein pupils address, among other things, change and continuity over time) and the other depth (exposing pupils to, among other things, the forces which unleashed periods of immense change in small epochs of time). These two units are assessed in two exams which occur at the end of the two-year course.

There are two courses offered at Gresham’s:

Course One:
The Tudors (1485-1603) and Democracy and Nazism (1918-1945). All pupils then do an Individual Assessment on an aspect of African American Civil Rights in the period 1865 to 1980.

Course Two:
The Making of a Superpower: USA (1865-1975) and The Wars of the Roses (1450-1499).

All pupils undertake a Historical Investigation on EITHER The Development of African American Civil Rights (1863-1965) OR the British Empire and slavery 1730-1838.


Entry requirements: Grade C or above in IGCSE English and a grade 5 or above in GCSE History would be preferred. What is essential is enthusiasm, commitment, and enjoyment of reading and a genuine interest in the subject.

With a focus on Rights, Rulers and War the IB Diploma History course focuses on styles of rule, the emergence of civil liberties and rights and various forms of conflict in Africa, America, Asia and Europe from the late 1800s to the end of the Twentieth Century.

Paper One:

Rights and Protest (Apartheid in South Africa and the Civil Rights Movement of America).

Paper Two:

Authoritarian States of the Twentieth Century (including Hitler, Mussolini and Mao). Causes and Effects of Twentieth Century Wars (including WW1, The Spanish Civil War and WW2).

Paper Three (Higher Level only):

Specialist focus on either France (1815-1914) OR Russia (1855—1924)

All pupils complete an Internal Assessment also wherein they have a free choice of enquiry focus. History is also a popular subject for Extended Essays.


The History Department at Gresham’s is committed to presenting pupils with a raft of opportunity to pursue the subject beyond the walls of the classroom and is constantly looking to create new experiences to complement the units we deliver. In the summer term the pupils hear the testimony of a Holocaust survivor. In addition to this we have organised conferences, walking tours and and regularly take pupils to lectures offered by academics from Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The History Society is thriving with regular talks by outside speakers, discussions, exhibitions, quizzes and events.

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A level
IB Diploma