The History a level Coursework Guide

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The History A Level Coursework Guide


20% of your overall grade at A level depends on your coursework module. For this module you must choose a question and research an answer. The OCR exam board suggest that a student needs a mix of 10-15 primary and secondary sources that they can reference in a coursework essay. It is up to you to find your own sources, though your teachers can help and advise you. There is no need whatsoever to buy 10-15 different books. One reason is because you will often find primary sources within the work of historians (e.g. within secondary sources) but the main reason is that there are a great many libraries throughout the Wakefield area.
We will begin to prepare for your coursework module as soon as you return from the AS exams and you will be expected to have done a large proportion of your work on the coursework by the time you return from the summer break. So long as you work hard in summer term this should not have any significant impact on your summer break, though you will probably need to read some books.
We have spent all year writing and practicing how to write history essays. For this module it is over to you to show us that you have the independent learning skills necessary to research and then produce an essay that is 3000-4000 words long.
The bank of questions for which we have already gained approval from OCR

The Unit

Medieval England 1035-1107

The Cold War in Europe 1941-1995

Alternative question due to Mr Otway having a lot of knowledge and a ridiculous amount of both secondary and primary sources on the topic

The question choices:

Assess the view that the Norman conquest only brought superficial change to England.


How serious were the threats that William I faced to his rule?
To what extent was William of Normandy’s success in 1066 the result of King Harold’s mistakes? 


‘William Rufus was an effective monarch.’ How far do you agree?

To what extent was the belligerent attitude of the Western Allies the main reason for the breakdown of the Grand Alliance and the start of the Cold War to 1949?


‘The GDR made life unrelentingly miserable for the vast majority of its citizens.’ How far do you agree with this view of the German Democratic Republic?



‘Gorbachev himself was the principal reason for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.’ How far do you agree with this view?

‘How far does the performance of British artillery explain the outcome of the British attacks on the Somme on 1st July 1916?’

You may also select your own question from your own period of history but you must be able to convince your teacher that you have the wherewithal and independent skills to find your own resources and learn about the topic to the extent required. Warning – your history teachers are not experts on everything that has ever happened in the world, so if you select this option, though we will be able to help you with advice on how to write an essay, we might not be much use with any advice about subject knowledge.  Must be approved by teacher.

You must also wait for approval from OCR when the question has been formulated.


Mark Scheme – What do I do to get full marks?

The following are quotes from the mark scheme. We cannot give you a specific structure for the coursework but we have spent a lot of time teaching you how to write history essays. The only difference here is that you have to base it on solid research of primary sources and you have to include reference to the wider historical debate surrounding the topic.


AO1 – Demonstrate, organise and communicate knowledge, analyse and evaluate key features and make substantiated judgements

1.    ‘There is a consistent focus on the question throughout the answer.’

2.    ‘Detailed, accurate and fully relevant knowledge.’

3.    ‘Effectively analyse and evaluate key features of the period studied.’

4.    ‘Produce a clear and well-supported argument.’

5.    ‘A convincing and substantiated judgement.’


AO2 – Analyse and evaluate primary source materials

1.    ‘Excellent evaluation of a fully appropriate range of different sources that are primary and/or contemporary to the period.’

2.    ‘Full engagement with the sources’

3.    ‘Detailed and accurate knowledge in order to produce a well-supported analysis of them within their historical context.’


AO3 – Analyse and evaluate the ways in which the past has been interpreted by historians

1.    ‘Excellent evaluation of a fully appropriate range of different interpretations of the historical issue chosen.’

2.    Detailed and accurate knowledge in order to produce a well-supported analysis of the interpretations within their historical context.’

3.    ‘Locate the historian interpretations effectively within the wider historical debate on the issue.’
What are your teachers allowed to do?

More quotes from OCR

‘Teachers may review work before it is handed in for final assessment. Advice must remain at the general level, enabling candidates to take the initiative in making amendments. One review should be sufficient to enable learners to understand the demands of the assessment criteria.’
What are your teachers not allowed to do?

Teachers may not give detailed advice and suggestions as to how the work may be improved in order to

meet the assessment criteria. This includes indicating errors or omissions and intervening to improve the presentation or content of the work. Adding or removing any material to or from non-exam assessment after it has been presented by a learner for final assessment will constitute malpractice.

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