History IGCSE

History IGCSE

Interpret and understand how historical events have shaped our world, through questions such as: ‘What happens when democracy fails?’ or ‘Why did the Holocaust take place?’. By studying international relations, not only in Western Europe but in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, you will gain vital insight into the events that shaped the 20th century.

Why St Mary's

You will enjoy plenty of opportunities to learn about a wide number of topics and countries, spanning Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East.

Supported and inspired by specialist teachers, you will explore international relations across the 20th century from 1917-2000, developing a deeper understanding of how historical events have shaped today's world.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

  • Regular, tailored support for all students through opportunities to practise key skills, individualised feedback and one-to-one support through drop in sessions at History Extra

  • Lively and varied lessons with plenty of debate taught by teachers who write and publish regularly for GCSE History magazines

  • Support in developing independent research and thinking skills in preparation for coursework and for further study after GCSE

Course overview

You will prepare for two exams (Paper 1 and 2), and complete coursework.

Paper 1 - International Relations from 1919

  • Who was to blame for the Cold War?
  • How effectively did the USA contain the spread of Communism?
  • How secure was the USSR’s control over Eastern Europe, 1948-c.1989?
  • Why did events in the Gulf matter, c.1970-2000?

Germany: Depth Study

  • The effects of defeat and the Treaty of Versailles on Germany
  • The creation of the Weimar Republic and the problems it faced, including the hyperinflation crisis of 1923
  • The rise and rise of the Nazi party from 1919
  • How Hitler was able to become Chancellor in 1933
  • How Hitler turned Germany into a dictatorship
  • Life in the Third Reich including wartime
  • The persecution of minorities including the Jews and the Holocaust

Paper 2 - Source-based study

This element of the course focuses on an aspect of the 20th century studied for Paper 1. The topic allows a more detailed look at that aspect, and the topic changes with each examination.

Paper 3 - Coursework

We study Russia between 1917 and 1957 focusing on the significance of Stalin:

  • The February and October revolutions in 1917
  • How the Bolsheviks maintained themselves in power
  • The power struggle after Lenin’s death
  • Stalin’s Russia and the purges
  • Khrushchev’s policy of destalinisation



  • Paper 1 - 2 hour written examination (60 marks)
  • Paper 2 - 2 hour written examination (50 marks)
  • Paper 3 - Coursework (40 marks) - internally assessed and externally moderated
At a glance
  • Syllabus: CIE IGCSE History
  • 3 written examinations
  • Coursework component (2000 words)
  • Twentieth century world history
You will enjoy this course if you ...
  • Enjoy the challenge of explaining why things happened

  • Have an interest in the past

  • Like making sense of information and using it express your own opinions

  • Don't mind that there isn't always a 'right' or 'wrong' answer

What our teachers say...

“People think history is set in stone, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our understanding of the past is constantly and rapidly changing. This makes the study of history surprising, sometimes shocking, but always fascinating and intriguing.”

“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.” Rosa Parks, USA Civil Rights Activist

By studying past events, history enables us to move forward and to learn from past mistakes. History shows us what it is to be human, it encompasses the devastation of war, the triumph of hope over adversity and reveals the fabric upon which today’s society is built.

History opens up a whole world of opportunities for the future and is widely-valued by employers and universities alike. Studying History allows students to develop and become confident in vital skills such as:

  • analysis and synthesis of complex ideas
  • creating an effective argument
  • thinking critically about evidence
  • carrying out independent research
  • structuring extended written arguments

Girls who study History at A Level can go on to study it a university level. History is also a strong supporting subject for, and has links to, a wide range of courses including: Law, Politics and International relations, English, Geography, Philosophy, Modern Foreign Languages and Sociology. Girls who have studied History have gone on to equally diverse careers in: law, teaching, the civil service, education, journalism, heritage, librarianship and archival work, advertising, and politics.

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