Route One – ‘Authority, Ideology and Conflict’ (Modern Focus)

Route Two – ‘The Struggle for Supremacy and Equality’ (Early Modern Focus)

This course develops the analytical skills to help students make sense of our past and understand today’s world.

The History Department offers two A Level options or ‘routes’ for students, each of which has its own distinct themes. Route one focuses on the attempts of modern governments, states and ideas to maintain or extend their power, and how at times this erupted into conflict. Route two allows students to concentrate more directly on early modern history by examining the struggles of peoples and authorities for rights and control. For both options, the study of units will incorporate analysis of countries and periods in depth and breadth, whilst ensuring that a study of at least a 200 year period is achieved. 

The obvious links are the other Humanities and Social Science subjects such as:

  • Politics
  • Classical Civilisation
  • English 
  • Sociology
  • Law
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Philosophy

History complements almost any other subject.

History is an extremely well respected and valued subject by all employers, businesses and universities. Hence, History students and graduates are sought after in many walks of life including: 

Journalism, Law, Business and Professional Management, The Civil Service, Teaching, Heritage Industry and any profession which requires the ability to analyse and synthesise, write effectively and purposefully and argue and present a case.

See what some of our former History students have gone on to do.

Students will select one of two options to follow during their time at Reigate College. Both routes contain a breadth and depth component.

Route One – Authority, Ideology and Conflict (Modern Focus)

  • Breadth Component: The British Empire, c. 1857-1967
  • Depth Component: The Cold War, c. 1945-1991
  • Historical Investigation: The Struggle for Political Change in the 19th Century

Route Two – The Struggle for Supremacy and Equality (Early Modern Focus)

  • Breadth Component: The Tudors: England, 1485-1603
  • Depth Component: France in Revolution, 1774-1815
  • Historical Investigation: Civil Rights in the UK in the 20th Century

Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences

History A Level students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course related experiences. In recent years these have included:

  • Berlin or Paris (July)
  • Manchester and Liverpool – a new trip designed to support study of the coursework units

The History Department also runs a series of lectures by visiting academics to supplement the course.  These have recently included: 

  • Robert Priest from Royal Holloway University, on the French Revolution
  • John Wilson from the American School in London, on the Vietnam War

In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s Activities Programme.

All students need to gain an experience of the work place during their time at College and for students studying vocational courses it should ideally be linked to one of their subject areas.

A Level History is assessed via:

Route One

  • Breadth Component: The British Empire, c. 1857-1967 – 2 ½ hour exam, 40%
  • Depth Component: The Cold War, c. 1945-1991 – 2 ½ hour exam, 40%
  • Historical Investigation within: The Struggle for Political Change in the 19th Century, 4,000-4,500 word essay, 20%


Route Two

  • Breadth Component: The Tudors: England 1485-1603 – 2 ½ hour exam, 40%
  • Depth Component: France in Revolution, 1774-1815 – 2 ½ hour exam, 40%
  • Historical Investigation within: Civil Rights Movement in the UK throughout the 20th Century, 4,000-4,500 word essay, 20%

The exam board for this A Level is AQA.

All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme. 

In addition, students should meet the following minimum GCSE requirements:  

  • Grade 5 in English Language, and
  • Grade 5 in History (if taken)

Students will enjoy and do well in History if they have a genuine interest in:

  • The world and the history of how it has developed
  • Communicating through speech and writing
  • Analysing and problem solving based on collecting and assessing evidence
  • Planning their own learning
  • Working with others and presenting and defending their interpretations and ideas

Do I have to have studied GCSE History?

Studying History GCSE can prepare you well for some aspects of the course, but you do not have to have a GCSE in History as the English Language GCSE is a better indication of how successful you are likely to be with the reading material.

How does the A Level compare to GCSE History?

Feedback from past students indicate that there is a ‘step up’ from the GCSE course. You will be required to write extended essays and there will be no short answer responses like the ones you may have done in your GCSE exam. In general, the topics are covered in more depth than those you may have studied in the GCSE course.

How much reading is there?

You will be studying two main topics throughout the two year course and we would expect you to build up to five hours of reading per week for both topics. We will provide you with extended reading resources and you will be expected to use them alongside your homework tasks.

How will I be assessed?

You will write eight key assessments in the first year excluding your Progression Exam. You will be taught exam skills and the questions will be genuine exam questions from previous years. These will include answers based on primary sources and historical interpretations, as well as extended essay responses.

What is the difference between Early Modern and Modern History?

Early Modern History looks at topics further back in time with dates ranging from 1485 to 1815, including the Tudors, the French Revolution and a piece of coursework on Voting and worker’s rights in the 19th Century.

Modern History looks at topics with dates ranging from 1857 to 1990, including the British Empire, the Cold War and a piece of coursework on Civil Rights Movement in the UK in the 20th Century. The exam board is the same for both and the skills developed will be identical for both papers.

Will there be any coursework?

Yes, both courses include a piece of coursework which will make up 20% of the overall A Level grade. Students on the Early Modern course will study the Struggle for Political change in the 19th Century and students on the Modern course will study the Civil Rights Movement in the UK in the 20th Century.

What sort of support is available if I need extra help?

You will have two teachers, one for each topic you study. They are available at any point for one-to-one discussions on your progress. They will also contact home via email, to keep parents/guardians informed. We also offer Plus classes for students who need more support during the course.

What kind of trips will be available?

Normally there are trips to Hampton Court Palace and to Paris for the Early Modern students and to Berlin for the Modern students. There will also be a trip to Manchester and Liverpool in support of coursework units.

What other enrichment activities are there?

The History department arranges for a variety of outside speakers to come into College and share their expertise and viewpoints on some of the topics covered. There is also a History Reading group for those who wish to explore the subject further.

What types of degree or career path can History A Level lead to?

As History is considered to be a facilitating subject, you have access to a wide variety of degree courses and careers. Previous students have gone on to study Humanities subjects like History, English and Classics, some have gone on to study Science degrees like Medicine and Engineering, and others have gone on to study Law and any of the Social Sciences.

How to Apply

Applications for entry September 2024

Please apply (from 19 September 2023) via the link on this page:

Please see the Admissions timetable for information about the College’s enrolment process.

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