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Investigating the recent past can help us understand the lives we live today. As a Modern History student you will have the opportunity to study and debate some of the great controversies. Was Stalin simply a ‘Red Tsar’? Was Mao a dictatorial tyrant or a great reformer? In Britain, why did it take working women and men so long to get the vote? You will be encouraged to reach your own conclusions about the past and develop a range of historical skills.

Studying Modern History may also give you the chance to experience the past first-hand, through visits to places such as Russia, land of the Tsars and birthplace of the famous communist revolution. Or explore your course work theme in Italy or America.

Year 1

  • Russia 1917–91 from Lenin to Yeltsin
  • How did communism change up to 1985?
  • Economic & cultural life
  • Mao’s China 1949–1976
  • How did the party establish control?
  • What were the origins of the Cultural Revolution?

Year 2

  • Protest, agitation and Parliamentary reform in Britain 1780–1928
  • Coursework: You choose either a question derived from one of the exam topics (Modern or Early Modern) or choose a completely new topic on the Renaissance or causes of the American Civil War. The choice is yours.

I love the History course here because we are able to focus and expand our ideas of events in great detail and look at things from different perspectives. Also, the range of coursework topics which are offered allows you to focus on something you are passionate about.

Halima Begum ex Varndean School

Course Essentials

Courses Available
A Level
Entry Requirements
How The Course is Assessed
80% exam, 20% coursework
Career Pathways
Many students go on to degree courses in History, English, International Relations, Politics and Law. This subject provides useful skills and a recognised academic qualification for a variety of careers.
Transferable Skills
Research; self-confidence; oral and written presentations; reasoning; critical analysis; organisational skills; communication in teams; development of empathy.
Other Information
In recent years, we have visited St Petersburg and New York. In future years, we intend to run trips to Washington, Edinburgh and Rome. In the summer term, speakers from local universities also often present guest lectures and seminars.
Enquiries To
Martin Ballard: mrb@varndean.ac.uk