People live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future. Given all the demands of modern life, why bother with what has been?

Apart from being extremely enjoyable, history offers a wealth of information about how people and societies behave. Any time we try to know why something has happened—whether a shift in political dominance, the development of a new surgical procedure or war in the middle east, we have to look for factors that took shape earlier.

The OCR A-level History course gives students the opportunity to study periods and historical genres which they may not have encountered before.

In Year 12, students cover two units. Unit 1 focusses on Britain during the reigns of the later Stuart and early Georgian monarchs (1678-c.1760) whereas Unit 2 looks at Germany between the years 1919-63 tracking its progress from democracy to dictatorship and back again. Unit 1 is worth 25% of the final A-level grade and Unit 2 is worth 15%.

 In Year 13 students continue their study of the Early Modern period in the Unit 3 synoptic paper which focuses on rebellion and protest in Tudor England. Pupils also undertake an independent historical enquiry covering a period and theme of their own interest. Recent submissions have included witch-hunting in Early Modern Europe, the long-term causes of the holocaust and the economics of the Nazi state. Unit 3 is a large unit and is worth 40% of the final A-level grade; the independent enquiry is worth 20%.

History opens doors to a variety of different careers. Many former history students put their skills to good use in law, the civil service, politics, the diplomatic service and the media. Others find themselves maintaining a more immediate connection with the past working as archaeologists, archivists, genealogists or roles in museums. The more artistic historian may find herself designing sets in the West End!

The A-level history course is challenging. It’s advisable that you have a minimum of a level 6 (B grade) at GCSE. High levels of literacy are needed. Candidates who have not studied the subject at GCSE level can still consider History at A-level.

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe

H. G. Wells