History (OCR)

A level History offers you the opportunity to study a range of fascinating topics not covered up to GCSE. You will learn how to critically examine, analyse and evaluate different interpretations of the past and formulate your own conclusions through the examination of primary source material and the work of historians. You will no longer be students of history, you will be historians, consumed by the intricacies and entertainments of the past.

Topics studied

Unit 1: The Later Tudors 1547–1603 – 1 hour and 30 minutes exam, 25% of A level

  • Key events of the reigns of Edward and Mary: the stability of the monarchy, religious changes, rebellion and unrest
  • Elizabeth I: Elizabeth and religion; the nature of the Elizabethan monarchy, government and parliament; Elizabeth’s management of financial, economic and social affairs; Elizabethan later years 1588–1600

Unit 2: The French Revolution and rule of Napoleon – 1 hour exam, 15% of A level

  • The causes of the French Revolution and the key events from 1774–99
  • Napoleon’s rise to power in 1799
  • Napoleon’s rule of France: military campaigns 1799–1815, domestic reforms 1799–1815
  • The reasons for Napoleon’s downfall 1807–15

Unit 3: Russia and its Rulers 1855–1964 – 2 hours and 30 minutes exam, 40% of A level

  • The nature of the government: autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism
  • The impact of dictatorial regimes on the economy and society of the Russian Empire and the USSR
  • Impact of war and revolution on the development of the Russian Empire and the USSR
  • Russia: Empire, nationalities and satellite states

Unit 4: Independent historical investigation – non-exam assessment, 20% of A level

  • Independently researched essay 3000–4000 words in length.


A* in A level History in 2023


A*–A in A level History in 2023


A*–B in A level History in 2023

“Studying history has been a refreshing change from my other A level subjects which are all science-based. The essay writing skills I have learned will really help me as I go on to university to study Biological Sciences.”
“I like history because it interlinks with so many other subjects, art, music, politics, economics and English.”

Academic enrichment

Each week, the Senior History Society meets to discuss and debate a range of issues often picked by students – you having a sense of ownership over your learning is incredibly important to us. In previous years, we have had talks from historians such as Professor Kate Williams from Reading University on Josephine, Empress of France, Dr Susan Doran from the University of Oxford was our guest speaker on Elizabeth I, and Professor Michael Broers, spoke on the downfall of Napoleon. You are also welcome at history talks given by outside speakers at Abingdon School and we regularly attend the Historical Association lectures in Oxford, held throughout the year. Additionally, Oxbridge applicants are enriched through a weekly group to provide further opportunities to go beyond A level and you are fully supported throughout this journey.

We encourage you to broaden your interests into other aspects of historical study, for example, history of art with online workshops covering topics such as Elizabeth I’s portraits and Elizabethan miniatures. A level History students also have the opportunity to enter the prestigious Duffield History Essay Competition, now in its sixth year. In April 2023, we ran our first A level History trip to Paris, and plans are well underway for the next!

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