My name is Claire Holliss and I’m the Head of History at Reigate College. I’m looking forward to welcoming you to our vibrant History Department in person at the beginning of the academic year and getting you started on one of our History programmes.
As you know, we run two A Level History courses at Reigate (Early Modern and Modern). I’m going to be setting a series of activities for you to complete over the coming months which I hope will give you an introduction to the course topics; simply choose the tasks that relate to the History option you’ve chosen.
Many of you will have studied History at GCSE, but the A Level programme requires you to develop advanced skills to enable you to read, summarise and analyse information and draw your own conclusions. I hope you will enjoy the activities we’ve set, and I looking forward to discussing your findings when we meet in September.
The tasks will be released here, in three phases (see table below) and should be completed by Choices Day on 1 September 2021. Please throw yourself into them and above all enjoy them!
Please note, some Course Leaders (for example for Music) may release their tasks earlier, as they may form part of the College’s audition process. If this applies to you, you’ll be notified separately.
New Starters Course Tasks and Activities
To be completed by
Explore your Subject
Explore your Subject
It is really important that you understand the difference between GCSE History and A Level, where you will be required to read and write far more extensively than you have done before. The volume and complexity of the work will be challenging to all. It is important that you get into the habit of reading in more depth than you will have been used to on the GCSE course in order to be successful at A Level. The following activities will give you a good indication of the demands of the work.
Please complete the tasks for EITHER Modern History A Level OR Early Modern History A Level.
Modern History A Level
The British Empire
The first activity to help you prepare for the start of your Modern History A Level course is based on the British Empire in India.
As you explore the Modern History A Level course and the topic of Empire, you will discover that the legacy of the British Empire is still very present in Britain today. One of the clearest examples of this is in objects and places; some which were constructed to promote the empire, used to support it, or in the case of many objects linked to the empire in British museums, seized from colonised countries and peoples and brought back to Britain.
least two of the places or objects highlighted below. Use the resources indicated to explore the
key questions raised about empire and take brief notes on your findings.
London: The Crystal
Pavilion in WWI
India: The Koh-i-Noor
1. How did the Koh-i-Noor diamond come
2. What does this story tell you about
the relationship between India and the British Empire?
3. What are the arguments for and
against the return of the diamond?
Thomas Cromwell is widely regarded as perhaps the
outstanding servant of the crown in the 16th century. Not only did
he manage the most difficult of men for a decade (i.e. Henry VIII), but he also
presided over and helped organise an enormous series of changes of fundamental
importance to the development of England. Cromwell left his mark in a number of
He shaped the development not only of the
entire system of government, but also the way in which England was
administered, worshipped, paid its taxes and was counted.
He transformed the role of Parliament,
made Wales conform more to English ways and laws, broke down the traditional
independence of the North of England and started to look at ways in which trade
could be developed.
He also went a long way towards making
the crown financially independent from Parliament.
Cromwell was perhaps the only person the King regretted
disposing of (he was executed on trumped up charges of treason by his enemies
in 1540). Coming from a poor and comparatively low-class background, this was a
Cromwell rose to prominence through a mix of ability, hard
work, skill at collecting offices and making himself indispensable. He also had
the ability to implement his master’s will effectively. He proved able to tie
up the many loose ends left by Henry VIII’s divorce and its implications.
Little is known about Cromwell’s early career, beyond the facts that he had some training as a lawyer, travelled widely and sat in the Parliament of 1523. He was a key aide to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey although he managed to distance himself sufficiently when his master fell, although he showed loyalty towards Wolsey when others had fled. By 1530 he was a member of the Privy Council and over the next two years rose from being just another royal servant to being a key minister. He made enemies of those who felt they were better suited to the task, such as Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Howard, who were to play a key role in his fall in 1540.
1. Research Activity
Using the following website, create a detailed timeline of Cromwell’s life. Highlight key events and characters (such as Anne Boleyn who you will learn about in the Tudor course).
Was there a ‘revolution in government’ in England as a result of the work
of Cromwell? Read the History interpretation case study and answer the following
two questions using examples from the article:
How was Cromwell able to bring about so many changes?
Does the work of Thomas Cromwell in the 1530s merit the definition of ‘a revolution in government’?
Thomas Cromwell’s older sister Katharine had a son named Richard, who later served in Thomas’s household and changed his surname to Cromwell.
Find out who Richard’s great-grandson was, and the impact he made on Britain.
A Level Modern History
As part of your Modern History course you will be studying
the Cold War from its beginnings in 1945 right up until the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991. One of the key places in the Cold War was the city of
Berlin. Berlin was split into communist
East Germany and capitalist West Germany. In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built to
divide the two halves of the city.
Below are some links to a Podcast called ‘Tunnel 29’ which follows
a young East German student as he escapes from East to West Berlin and his
decision to dig a tunnel beneath the wall in order to help others to escape
too. His individual story reveals a lot about the larger forces of the Cold War
and how they shaped people’s lives.
Task: Listen to the first two episodes of the Podcast called ‘The Escape’ and ‘The Spy’ and write up your responses to the following questions:
1. What reasons do you think lie behind Joachim’s decision to escape to the West?
2. Why do you think it might have been easier for Joachim to escape compared to other people living in East Berlin?
3. Why do you think a large number of people left East Germany for the West before 1961 and still tried to escape even after the border was closed? (You can refer to Joachim’s story and other details given in the podcast to help you answer.)
Key word: Iconoclasm:The deliberate act of
breaking up statues and images.
During the Tudor era and the French Revolution iconoclasm
occurred extensively. The statues and images were mainly religious, but an
extreme example happened in France during the Reign of Terror when
revolutionaries dug up the body of the French King Louis XIV (who had be dead
for many years) and threw his corpse into a common grave.
Iconoclasm has made the news headlines very recently
as you can see from the image above. This was taken during the Black Lives Matter Protest which
occurred in Bristol on Saturday 6th June, 2020. Protesters were enraged by the continuing
presence in the city of the statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol Merchant
who made his wealth from the Atlantic slave trade (you may have covered this in
Year 8 History). As you will discover
from reading the BBC news article below, his name has been used extensively in
the city; schools and concert halls are just some of the institutions that have
been named after him.
Read the article and then write a response to
the questions below.
to give examples to back up your points.
NOTE: This article was written in 2018 when the Colston statue was still in