Paper 2 Theses “The best responses revealed command of chronology, task identification



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The best responses revealed command of chronology, task identification, structure and above all the provision of relevant historical detail. It cannot be emphasized enough that answers must be supported by reference to historical knowledge.” – May 2010, History Subject Report


A strong thesis:

  • Must acknowledge ALL aspects of task (Even if they are not explicitly stated)

  • Take a stand

  • Include: Claim, Counter claim & Synthesis




Prompt / Task

Sample Thesis

Does the thesis Address ALL aspects of the task?

(why? Or why not?)

Ex. (7) Evaluate the successes and failures of one ruler of a single-party state


Mao’s success in establishing the PRC was overshadowed by the failures of the GLF & GPCR; however his glorified legacy remains entrenched in the PRC due to the supremacy of the State & the strength of Maoist ideology


  • Yes, because…

  • Successes: PRC, Mao’s glorified legacy, Maoist ideology

  • Failures: GLF, GPCR

  • Argument: Weight of legacy & continuation of state outweigh failures

(2) “In order to achieve and retain power a leader of a single-party state needed to be ruthless, blind to human suffering and yet charismatic.” To what extent do you agree with this assertion?


Mao’s ruthless determination to set up a communist government in China in the 1940s and 50s, as seen by his Long March, was a precursor to his inhumane policies such as the Great Leap Forward! However, it was his ability to charm young, communist idealists to rid the country of domestic opposition that allowed him to cement his position of single party ruler of the PRC!




(3) In what ways and for what reasons has the “cult of personality” helped to gain popular support for rulers of single party states?


Although, Mao’s rise to power was dominated by military and political strategy against the GMD and the Japanese, once in power, Mao maintained popular support through his “cult of personality.” Overall, the “cult of personality” was perpetuated by the CPC to mask Mao’s political mistakes.




(6) In what ways, and with what results, was propaganda used by one ruler of a single party state?

Although Mao utilized military force to consolidate his power and control over the PRC, his ability to maintain that power was grounded in his prolific use of propaganda.






Prompt / Task

Sample Theses

Which Thesis is STRONGER? & Why?

(1) Analyze the methods used by one single-party ruler to establish totalitarian control



  1. Although Mao’s methods in gaining his rise to power can be considered unethical through his encouragement of violence in the Cultural Revolution, he unified China under a common cause through the use of propaganda, and in the end, Mao was successful because he revolutionized the country’s economic and social state.



  1. Mao used propaganda, military force, and the CCP to rise to unlimited single party state power, which led to famine and death of millions of his own people due to communism that still exists in China today, Mao Zedong is still seen as the ultimate emperor.







(4) Successful economic and social policies were essential for the single-party leader’s maintenance of power.” With reference to either Mao or Castro, to what extent do you agree with this statement?



  1. Mao’s successful creation of the Red Guard and the use of propaganda (Little Red Book) allowed him to maintain and revive his power until his death. However, his tactics were later questioned by historians even though his legacy lived on in communist China.



  1. While Mao’s flawed economic policy known as the Great Leap Forward forced him to step down as Chairman in 1959, his focus on social reform through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution during and after his second rise to power successfully mobilized the Red Guard and created widespread praise for Maoist ideology, securing Mao’s place in official Chinese history as a great man and leader



  1. Mao’s failures economically and socially, through the implementation of the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, did not impact his success as a single party state leader, as his legacy continues to live on in China today.







(5) By what methods, and with what success, did one single party leader try to eliminate domestic opposition?



  1. While Modern contemporaries, PRC, would support that the elimination of domestic opposition was necessary to establish more pure Marxist values, Chang and Halliday would refute this on the basis that Mao was driven by selfish motives.



  1. Mao Zedong was able to eliminate domestic opposition through the use of movements, such as the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the purging of governmental members. However, the success of these movements were limited by its negative effects on the Chinese people, making him a lasting controversial leader.









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