GCSE History

Filter by subject:

Exam Board and Specification Code: Edexcel (4HI1)

The Course

History is the study of key features and characteristics of historical periods. Students will develop skills which enable them to analyse and evaluate historical interpretations in the context of historical events studied. They will learn how to use a range of source material to comprehend, interpret and cross refer sources. They will also develop skills to explain, analyse and make judgements about historical events and periods. Students will be taught how to apply their understanding to succeed in the examinations.

Which subjects combine well with History?

History combines well with a number of other subjects: English Literature and Economics are obvious examples, but History also complements a more Science based programme showing an ability to write analytically and understand current events in their historical context.

What careers and University courses can History lead to?

History is a highly respected academic subject at GCSE. History prepares students well for any career or degree course that requires an ability to carry out research, to put forward a well-supported argument or to write analytically. Essay writing skills are fundamental to success in History, as is the ability to analyse sources for reliability and value. Students are also taught to read a variety of historians’ views and use their own knowledge to challenge and support their interpretations.

How is the course assessed?

The Edexcel IGCSE in History comprises one external examination made up of two papers.

Paper 1: comprises of two depth studies:

Germany: development of dictatorship, 1918-1945

The Germany unit looks at the reasons for Hitler’s rise to power including the establishment of the Weimar Republic following the First World War, the ‘golden years’ of Weimar Germany and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis up to 1933. We then look at Nazi Germany from 1933 -39 and finally cover Germany and the occupied territories during the Second World War. This course is always extremely engaging for students who invariably rise to the challenge of debating the serious and sometimes distressing issues involved.

A world divided: superpower relations, 1943-72

The Cold War unit covers the period from the end of the Second World War to the 1970s, focusing on the ideological, military and political reasons for the conflict. The course focuses on the numerous flash points of the Cold War including the Berlin Blockade, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Prague Spring to name a few. Once again, students always engage fully with the course and enjoy the opportunity to debate and research this fascinating topic.

Examination structure: Students answer one question on each topic. There are 60 marks available in total. The assessment duration is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Paper 2: comprises one historical investigation and one breadth study.

Historical investigation: The USA, 1918-41

This course focuses on America between the years of 1918-41 with a particular focus on the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, social tensions and Roosevelt’s new deal and the opposition to it. This is a great course as it allows students to really get to grips with the blossoming of the great western superpower through a difficult period on its ascension to global dominance. In addition to studying the political and social upheaval of these years, there is an emphasis on acquiring new skills of analysis of both primary sources and historical interpretations of events.

Breadth study: Changes in Medicine, c1848-c1948

This course is less political but no less engaging than our other topics. The aim of the breadth study is to look at change and continuity in one area over the course of one hundred years. We look at changes in surgery, public health, the understanding of disease and the role of women. The gory nature of surgery without anaesthetics or any understanding of infection is invariably of great interest to 21st century students.

Examination structure: Students answer two questions, one on each topic. There are 60 marks available in total. The assessment duration is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Full Specification available at edexcel.com.


Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) History. Development of Dictatorship: Germany 1918-45 Student Book: Victoria Payne (Pearson Education: ISBN-13: 978-0435185381)

Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) History. A World Divided: Superpower Relations, 1943-72 Student Book: Nigel Kelly (Pearson Education: ISBN-13: 978-0435185442)

Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) History. The USA, 1918-41 Student Book: Simon Davis (Pearson Education: ISBN 13: 978-0435185454)

Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) History. Changes in Medicine, c1848-c1948 Student Book: Cathy Warren (Pearson Education: ISBN-13: 978-0435185404)

Meet Our Students

View All


University of Cambridge


Imperial College, London




Brunel University


Queen Mary University


Queen Mary University


King's College, London


GCSE Student


University of Sussex


GCSE Student


University of Manchester


(UAL) University of the Arts London