spotlight on… history

Here, we take a closer look at A-Level History which is available for you to study here at Cowley Sixth Form.

We asked one of our current students to give us a bit of insight into the course, what’s involved and what it’s like studying here at Cowley Sixth Form College.

When did you first consider studying History at sixth form?

I always knew I would love to study History at sixth form, but what solidified it was during my GCSEs, as I realised how much I loved the process about learning what historical events are still impacting life around us today. This idea is explored much more in depth at A-Level, which was a good surprise.

What was it that captured your interest in the subject?

I’ve always been aware of the history of various locations I’ve been to, whether it be on holiday seeing ancient Greek and Roman ruins, or seeing the various graves from the 1600s in the local graveyard. This awareness captured my interest after a trip to York, and the remnants of  Viking society were still visibly present all around me. Horrible Histories also definitely helped a lot! Turning my childhood TV interest into a qualification has been really enjoyable.

What has surprised you most about the subject?

Most definitely the time periods covered! From GSCE to A-Level, I must have covered from 800BC to the 1990s, and this range definitely keeps it interesting. At A-Level, the range of time periods is rather vast, but it always means you’re learning something new. I was also surprised at how flexible the course is when it comes to allowing you to form your own opinions about historical figures or events, and how the exam questions really allow you to express these opinions clearly.

Apart from historical skills, what other skills does a History A-Level involve?

It has taught me how to properly compose a formal essay, how to form a solid opinion on a subject and use facts to back that knowledge up, how to form links between two topics which are not always obviously linked, but most importantly, how to communicate with my peers to widen our knowledge on areas we may be unsure of.

If you are struggling with a question/topic what support is available?

There is an absolute goldmine of support available! To begin with, communication with a teacher is only ever an email away (they’re great at responding quickly, they’re always checking their emails!), and if an email isn’t enough, teachers will more than happily provide you with either extra time covering that specific area or extra resources to ensure your knowledge is secured. There is a library with various History books in the study which are available at any time throughout the college day, and the study staff are always there to answer any questions or give a helping hand. Furthermore, each History class becomes a tight community within the first few weeks of Year 12, so support from class peers is also available if needed.

What do you enjoy most about the lessons?

I definitely enjoy the content the most. Although the learning atmosphere comes in at a close second! The content for all three areas of study is extremely engaging, with each lesson being a new key event or drama. It’s never a dull day where A-Level History is concerned!

What have you found the most challenging? 

I would say at first I found that taking in every key detail from the sheer amount of content was challenging, but over time, this does become much easier to deal with and regular revision helps keep that challenge at bay!

What advice would you give someone thinking of taking the subject at Cowley Sixth Form College?

Advice wise, I would suggest making sure you have a revision technique that works for you, and make sure you’re able to condense notes quickly and when needed! You’ll also need to ensure you can write relatively quickly to avoid falling behind. If you’re unsure about choosing History as an A-Level, I say just do it! It provides you with a lot of valuable skills that cannot be learnt from other subjects, and is a great tool to have under your belt when it comes to applying to university, especially if your other subjects are Maths/Science related. The learning environment is amazing and you’ll always look forward to lessons.

If you had to pick your subjects again, would you still pick History? If yes, why? If no, why not? 

Absolutely! History as a subject means a lot to me, as I not only thoroughly enjoy it, but the amount of support I have had from Cowley’s History department’s staff over the years has been incredible. It is such an engaging and interesting subject, I’d pick it again in a heartbeat.

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