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History is a varied, interesting, entertaining and challenging subject.  The aims of the OS History department are:

  • To stimulate an interest in the study of the past
  • To develop the skills of critical analysis and evaluation of material
  • To develop an awareness of British, European and World History.
  • To encourage students to reflect on moral, religious and political issues through the study of History

History in St Philip House (Forms 1&2/ Years 7&8) covers British History from c1066-1700.  Students will investigate events of the Mediaeval Period in the 1st form (e.g. The Norman Conquest, the Black Death) and key themes (e.g. the changing power of Kings and parliament).  As a Catholic school, the focus in 2nd form will be on religious history in the Early Modern period.  Students will study the English Reformation in depth and undertake a comparative study on the European Reformation in Germany and Spain.  In the summer term, students will investigate the English Civil War.

To stimulate and support their studies, St Philip House boys will undertake educational visits to the Tower of London, the National Army Museum, and a local castle.  2nd form students may also have the opportunity of joining appropriate talks and visits of the Junior History society.

At Third Form (Y9) the focus switches to the twentieth century.   Students will study two outline courses on the World Wars and a depth study on the Holocaust.  Students will be challenged to think about their views and to critically evaluate source material as they examine big historical questions such as How the Holocaust was allowed to happen and why the Final Solution began.  Students will examine the motivation and actions of perpetrators, bystanders, the Jews and Righteous Gentiles.  Students will be supported in this study by either a talk from a Holocaust survivor or a visit to the IWM’s Holocaust exhibition.

In the 4th and 5th Forms (Y10-11), the History Department delivers the Cambridge International GCSE History course.  Students continue to investigate twentieth century History with depth studies on the USA, 1917-1941 (examined) and Stalin’s Russia (coursework) alongside the breadth study of International Relations, 1919-2000.  Students will develop an understanding of the post-war world, the development of the USA & the USSR as superpowers and of the Cold War, the key crises of the Cold War including Cuba, Czechoslovakia and Vietnam, and conflict in the Gulf States.  There are two examined papers, one essay-based and one source-based, in addition to coursework.

Just as the Third Form course provides background and contextual understanding for the IGCSE course, so the IGCSE course topics are developed at A level.  In the new two year, linear Edexcel A level, 6th Form students will study Russia in Revolution, c1884-1924 and US Civil Rights, c1850-2009 as well as a breadth study on Stuart Britain from c1625-1701.  Students will sit three exams at the end of the U6th and will also complete a coursework essay on an historical controversy.

In addition to course-related outside lectures and visits, the department will run two History societies from September 2015: the Carton de Wiart Society for 3rd-5th forms and the Acton Society for 5th-6th forms.  These will provide students with the opportunity to deliver and listen to talks and to visit historical sites and attend plays and films on historical themes.

M. R. Fec BA (Head of History)