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Blackfen School for Girls

Blackfen School for Girls

Raising aspirations - releasing potential

History A Level

Key Stage 5 – GCE

The course offers history students a good range of historical knowledge encompassing both early modern and modern history in consideration of department expertise, experience and resources.

Year 12                                                                                                                

 Exam board: Edexcel 8HIO1

Course overview: Route H

Route H

8HIO/1H - Paper 1: Breadth study with interpretations - Option 1H: Britain transformed, 1918–97

8HIO/2H - Paper 2: Depth study - Option 2H.2: The USA, 1955–92: Conformity and Challenge

External link to exam board website:

Route H: Democracies in change: Britain and the USA in the twentieth century – Overview

Students taking Route H will study:

  • Paper 1, Option 1H: Britain transformed, 1918–97  AND
  • Paper 2, Option 2H.2: The USA, 1955–92: conformity and challenge.

In the twentieth century, liberal democracies came under increasing challenge from both within and without.  The options in Route H allow students to understand the nature, and effectiveness, of the response to these challenges.

Studying two different countries allows students to develop a greater understanding of the challenges experienced by Britain and the USA, and of the contrasts and similarities in the responses (although students will not be required to answer comparative questions that link the breadth and the chosen depth option).

Paper 1, Option 1H: Britain transformed, 1918–97: This option comprises a study in breadth, in which students will learn about the extent to which Britain was transformed politically, socially, economically and culturally in the years 1918–79.  They will consider responses to the challenges of war, fluctuations in the economy, technological advancement and the desire for greater social equality.  The focus of study is on developments and changes over a broad timescale and so the content is presented as themes spanning a significant duration: 1918–79. This option also contains a study in depth of historical interpretations on a broad question, which is contextualised by, and runs on from, the themes: what impact Thatcher’s governments had on Britain, 1979–97.



  1. A changing political and economic environment, 1918 - 1979
An in depth look at the political and economic landscape in the UK throughout the 20th Century,.
  1. Creating a welfare state, 1918 - 1979
Students will learn about the extent and changing nature of social welfare provision throughout the 20th Century.
  1. Society in transition, 1918 - 1979
A focussed study of the changes to class and social values, leading to the emergence of the ‘liberal society’.
  1. The changing quality of life, 1918 - 1979
Students will investigate how standards of living have changed throughout the 20th Century, as a result of the First and Second World Wars.

Historical Implications


What impact did Thatcher’s governments (1979–1990) have on Britain,


Students will investigate the effect of Thatcher’s economic policies and the extent to which state intervention and the public sector were ‘rolled-back’.  As well as the extent of political and social division within Britain and the effect of Thatcherism on politics and party development.

Paper 2, Option 2H.2: The USA, 1955–92: conformity and challenge: This option comprises a study in depth of the USA in the years 195592, from post-1945 affluence, through racial and political protests in the 1960s, to the rise of right-wing groups in the 1980s and the development of bitter divisions between Democrats and Republicans.  Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges posed to the American political system by popular protests and different styles of leadership, and the effects on society of widespread economic, social and cultural change.

Key Topics


  1. Affluence and conformity, 1955 - 1963
Students will consider the challenges to cultural conformity, including social change in film and TV, advertising and music. 
  1. Protest and reaction, 1963 - 1972
Students will explore Johnson’s Great Society (1964 – 1968) and will evaluate the impact of Johnson’s achievements, whilst studying the reactions to the counter-culture in the following years (1968 – 1972).
  1. Social and Political change, 1973 - 1980
Students will explore changes to popular culture, including sports, business, music, film and TV, including the depiction of political and social tensions and a return to escapism and developments in news media. 
  1. Republican dominance and its opponents, 1981 - 1992
Students will further investigate cultural challenges with trends in youth culture, the impact of technology, the growth of cable television and influence of MTV, as well as the impact of the AIDS crisis.

Year 13                                                                                                                                

Exam board: Edexcel 8HIO1

Paper 3, Option 33:The witch craze in Britain, Europe and North America, c1580–c1750: This option comprises two parts: the Aspects in breadth focus on long-term changes and contextualise the Aspects in depth, which focus in detail on key episodes. Together, the breadth and depth topics explore the nature of the witch craze that took hold in the late sixteenth century and the changing attitudes to magic and sorcery that eventually contributed to its decline. Together, students will study the social, economic, political and dimensions of the phenomenon, and the broad intellectual changes that ushered in what is often called the Age of Reason.

Key Topics:

  • The North Berwick Witches in Scotland, 1590-91 and the aftermath to 1597
  • The Lancashire witches of 1604-13
  • The Great Witch Hunt, in Bamberg, Germany, 1623-32
  • Matthew Hopkins and the East Anglian witch craze, 1645-47
  • Cotton Mather and the Salem witch hunt, 1692-93


The purpose of this coursework is to enable students to develop skills in the analysis and evaluation of interpretations of history in a chosen question, problem or issue as part of an independently researched assignment. The focus is on understanding the nature and purpose of the work of the historian. Students will be required to form a critical view based on relevant reading on the question, problem or issue. They will also be specifically required to analyse, explain and evaluate the interpretations of three historians. The coursework will be assessed using a centre-set assignment. Assignments must meet the requirements detailed below. An assignment framework is provided to support the development of individual assignments.