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Modern History


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 of the 19th and 20th centuries. 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 over the two years of the course. 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?
  • Why did the USSR collapse in 1991?
  • 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
  • Why was the vote increased & what influence did protest movements have?
  • What was the role of the Suffragettes in achieving the vote for women?
  • Coursework: You choose either a question derived from one of the exam topics (Modern or Early Modern) or a completely new topic on the Renaissance or causes of the American Civil War
Frankie Pulham

Frankie Pulham

Studied: A Level Modern History & BTEC Extended Diploma in Public Services (2013-2015)

Progression: Military Historian

Frankie chose not to go to university but instead followed his ambition to be a Military Historian. Whilst he may return to education to acquire a degree in History, he has instead spent his time since leaving college writing books.

His first book titled 'Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank' was published in August 2017 and his second book 'T-34 Shock: The Soviet Legend in Pictures' was released in June 2021 and was the best selling military history book on amazon UK and US, and has since sold out in America twice.

His history work has extended to real world applications and in the summer of 2016, he was involved in the recovery of a World War Two tank, buried near Dorking, which was filmed for the History Channel and was also involved in two tank restoration projects.

In 2019 he started his own living history group, 'Krasniy Konverv' and now gives presentations on the Red Army in World War Two, life as a soldier and crewing a tank. Frankie is currently writing further books, and is still interested in going to university, either to study history or go into primary education.

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