History at Durham Johnston School

History is a rich and varied subject that always rewards its students. Furthermore, we believe that its importance lies in its challenge and ability to fascinate. The opportunity for students to investigate historical subjects in detail, experience historians’ debates and develop their own arguments is very fulfilling. We are passionate about History, and hope through our teaching of KS3-KS5, students will become so too.



Further details



What is history? How has Durham changed over the past 2000 years?

Norman conquest: The Battle of Hastings, why William won and the ‘contenders’ situation prior to1066.

Norman control: Castles, feudalism and Domesday book. How did William assert power and achieve control?

The power struggles of Crown versus State: Becket’s murder and Magna Carta.

Everyday life (struggles) in Medieval England: The impact of the Black Death and Peasants’ Revolt on the British Isles.

England abroad’ (Global struggle): Exploration of foreign policy in the medieval age.

A history of Northern England including the history of the site of Durham cathedral and the Battle of Neville’s Cross.

Contenders for throne; 1066: Stamford Bridge and Hastings; Investigation of how and why William won.

Norman control through establishment of feudalism, Domesday survey, and castles.

Struggle between Church and Crown: Becket’s murder in 1170; Emergence of Parliament and wider legacy of Magna Carta 1215.

Black Death 1348-50 in European and British context; impact of ¼ of population dying; Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to be studied in context of power struggle that contributed to emergence of modern state.

Crusades; Edwards I & II in Wales and Scotland; Hundred Years War 1337-1453; Revisit Battle of Neville’s Cross 1346.

2 assessments per half term: combination of source and essay-style questions. Additional and frequent factual tests feature too.



Henry VIII and the break from Rome: Wars of the Roses; the Church in Europe; Henry’s ‘Reformation’; Edward VI.

Mary and Elizabeth Tudor: ‘Bloody’ Counter-Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement.

Gunpowder plot and Civil Wars: The Stuarts and the descent into civil war.

Cromwell’s Interregnum and the Restoration: From Lord Protector to the Restoration of the monarchy; Act of Union; Great Fire of London and ‘Glorious Revolution’.

French Revolution: A case study of an alternative ‘global’ nation’s internal struggle for political power and control.

The industrial revolution in the North of England: The impact of the industrial revolution in contributing to Britain’s global primacy and its direct effect on the North.

Princes in Tower 1483; Bosworth 1485; Henry crowned king in 1509; 1520 Field of Cloth of Gold; 1533 Henry marries Anne Boleyn; 1534 Act of Supremacy; 1536 dissolution of Monasteries begins; Death of Henry and Edward crowned 1547.

‘Bloody’Mary? Counter-Reformation from 1553; Cranmer burned at stake; Elizabeth’s middle way from 1558; age of exploration and empire; foreign policy victories such as Armada in 1588.

1603 Death of Elizabeth and James crowned; Gunpowder Plot 1605; Parliament’s Petition of Right against Charles1628; Long Parliament meets 1640; Civil War begins 1642; Royalists’ defeat at Marston Moor 1644; Execution of Charles 1649

Cromwell named Lord Protector 1653; restoration of Charles II in 1660; Plague hits London 1665; Great Fire 1666; William of Orange 1688; Act of Union 1707.

What caused the revolution? How and why did peasants rebel? Seizure of Bastille and Great Fear; Declaration of Rights of Man; New regime and challenge to Catholic Church; Reign of Terror and rise of Napoleon.

1825 Darlington to Stockton railway; 1829 Stephenson’s rocket; 1830 Manchester to Liverpool railway; mining, ship building, factories: how did Northern England become an economic and industrial giant? Impact of industry on empire.

2 assessments per half term: combination of source and essay-style questions. Additional and frequent factual tests feature too.



The development of the British Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Case study of emergence of trans-Atlantic slave trade, its role in British empire and the campaign for its eventual abolition.

Radicalism and reform: How did British parliament evolve in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries? Chartism, Great Reform Act and Suffragettes.

WW1: Local History. Why did men fight? What were they fighting for? Where did they fight? What did they experience? How far were they successful? What was impact of the Great War on the North?

WW2: To what extent was WW2 the same war as WW1? What caused WW2? Why did Britain fight? How far did it change Britain? Why did the Allies win?

The Holocaust: A case study of the impact of ideology, mechanisation of war and genocide on Twentieth Century world history.


Why is Britain no longer ‘Great’? Investigation of post-WW2: Atomic bomb; end of British empire (with India as case study) and emergence of Cold War. Did the war change Britain for the better?


Why did Britain have an empire? Where did Britain have an empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Why did Britain practise slavery? Range of campaigns for abolition; Abolition 1807; 1833 abolition in colonies; Why did Britain abolish the slave trade?

1819 Peterloo Massacre; Great Reform Act 1832; Queen Victoria’s accession 1837; People’s Charter 1838; Second Reform Act 1867; Women’s suffrage; Impact of WW1of suffrage campaigns.

Recruitment, propaganda and conscription; Trench warfare; Use of DLI’s experiences as case study; Ypres and the Somme as national case studies (links with Battlefields study visit); Social and cultural impact of war.




How did WW1 lead to WW2? Why did WW2 start? Investigation of Paris peace treaty, appeasement and Hitler’s ambitions. Social impact of Blitz, evacuation, rationing, Battle of Britain and experiences as pows.


The greatest crime in human history? How Nazis achieved power; why Jews were targets for persecution, how Nazis intensified anti-Semitism; Nuremburg laws and Wannsee Conference; Final Solution.




Investigation of use of atomic bombs to end war with Japan; how superpowers superseded old European powers such as Britain (including overview of competing Cold War ideologies) and how the British empire came to an end with case study on India.



2 assessments per half term: combination of source and essay-style questions. Additional and frequent factual tests feature too.



Summary of the key content

Year 10 Topics Detail

 3.2.2 Section B: Wider world depth studies

Conflict and tension, 1894–1918

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of the Great Powers and other states. It focuses on the causes, nature and conclusion of the First World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred, and why it proved difficult to bring the war to a conclusion. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

 3.2.1 Section A: Period studies

1B Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship

This period study focuses on the development of Germany during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of democracy and dictatorship – the development and collapse of democracy and the rise and fall of Nazism. Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.
Year 11 Topics  

 3.3.1 Section A: Thematic studies

2B Britain: Power and the people: c1170 to the present day

This thematic study will enable students to gain an understanding of the development of the relationship between the citizen and the state in Britain over a long period of time. It considers the causes, scale, nature and consequences of protest to that relationship. By charting the journey from feudalism and serfdom to democracy and equality, it reveals how, in different periods, the state responds to challenges to its authority and their impact. It allows students to construct an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the citizen. Students will have the opportunity to see how ideas, events or developments in the wider world affected the course of Britain's political development and will promote the idea that ideas of authority, challenge and rights did not develop in isolation, but these developments should be seen in terms of how they affected Britain and British people.

 3.3.2 Section B: British depth studies

Elizabethan England, c1568–1603

This option allows students to study in depth a specified period, the last 35 years of Elizabeth I's reign. The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth I’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints, and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

Assessment Details

Paper 1: Understanding the modern world

What's assessed: In Section A there is a choice of four period studies, each with a focus on two key developments in a country's history over at least a 50-year period.

In Section B there is a choice of five wider world depth studies. These focus on international conflict and tension.

How it's assessed:

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

84 marks (including 4 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar

50% of GCSE


Section A – six compulsory questions (40 marks)

Section B – four compulsory questions (40 marks)

Plus 4 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar

Paper 2: Shaping the nation

What's assessed: In Section A there is a choice of three thematic studies, which look at key developments in Britain over a long period.

In Section B there is a choice of four British depth studies incorporating the study of a specific historic environment.

How it's assessed:

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

84 marks (including 4 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar

50% of GCSE


Section A – four compulsory questions (40 marks)

Section B – four compulsory questions (40 marks)

Plus 4 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar

 Key content: OCR History A When taught? When assessed? Type of assessment: % weighting

Unit 1 Y113: Britain 1930–1997

(Enquiry topic: Churchill 1930–1951)

You will have 1 teacher for this part of the course.

3 hours a week in year 12

You will initially study the enquiry topic which covers Churchill’s views on the events leading to WW2, his time as war Prime Minister and his role as an international diplomat during and after WW2. You will be regularly assessed (formative assessment by your British history teacher) on this aspect of your A-level prior to Christmas 2015.

Your period study focuses on the British governments of 1951-97, commencing with the 13-year domination of the Conservative party (1951-64), the period of intermittent Labour and Conservative governments in the 1960s and 1970s, Conservative dominance 1979-1997 and concluding with a study of British foreign policy 1951-1997. The assessment for this will take place throughout the spring term prior to Easter 2016.

25% (50% of AS exam)

There will be a 1hr and 30 minutes exam for Y113. This is completed in summer 2017.

There are 50 marks available: A maximum of 30 marks are awarded for the source question which requires you to weigh up 4 sources’ judgments in light of their historical context. This essay is compulsory. You then have a choice of 2 essay questions, answering 1 of them, with a maximum of 20 available marks. The most important reason for X was Y. How far do you agree? OR Assess the reasons for X are examples of question-styles. To be able to recall detailed subject-knowledge, to analyse, to evaluate, to debate and argue all are all required here.

Unit 2 Y213: The French Revolution and the rule of Napoleon 1774–1815

You will have 1 teacher for this part of the course.

This means you have 2 teachers for year 12: 1 for British and 1 for French history.

2 hours a week in year 12

You will study the reasons for the Revolution of from 1174, the Revolution of 1789, the events from 1789 to the constitution of the Directory 1795.

You will also investigate Napoleon’s early career through to 1807; then the decline and fall of Napoleon 1807-1815 becomes your focus.

15% (50% of AS exam)

Y213 is a 1-hour exam. This is completed in Summer 2017.

You answer all of question 1 or all of question 2. There are 30 marks available. You have an essay question that is worth 10 marks that requires you to evaluate the importance of historical events in context; you then have a 20 mark essay that needs you to make an informed judgment on a historical view. Question 1a or 2a (10 marks) could ask Which of the following had the greater impact on X? Y or Z?

Question 1b or 2b could ask X happened because of Y. How far do you agree? OR How important was X in bringing about Y? This style of essay is worth 20 marks.

Unit 3 Y319: Civil Rights in the USA 1865–1992

You will have 2 teachers for this paper.

4 hours a week in year 13.

The teachers will split the material between them. 1 teacher will deliver the key topics of civil rights: African-Americans, trade unions, Native Americans and women.

The second teacher will deliver the depth studies on the ‘gilded age’ of civil rights in the nineteenth century, the New Deal and Malcom X and Black Power.

A final hour a week in year 13 is dedicated to the additional non-US content that is 60% of the A-level. This gives teachers and students time to prepare the coursework or revise content from year 12 and practise essay writing.

40% of A-level

Y319 is a 2 hours and 30 minutes exam. It is sat in Summer 2017.

Section A: Question 1 is worth 30 marks and requires you to evaluate 2 passages of writing. The passages will be historical interpretations: your job will be to evaluate them and offer an opinion as to which of the 2 could be considered more convincing.

Section A covers the depth studies.

Section B questions are worth 25 marks. You must answer 2 out of the 3 available questions. The questions offer interpretations to which you must respond. The questions take the form of X was the most important turning point in Y. How far do you agree the view of the period 1865 to 1992? The essays require you to have significant breadth of knowledge over a broad time period.

Section B covers the broad, key-content topics from 1865-1992.

Total available marks is 80: 30 for question 1 and 25 each for the 2 selected questions from section B (questions 2-4).

Unit 4: Y100

An independent piece of research coursework on either Winston Churchill of Napoleon Bonaparte. Students will complete a 3000–4000 word essay on an aspect of Churchill, Thatcher, Robespierre or Napoleon. This is an internally-assessed unit that is standardised by OCR. Depending on your choice, you will have 1 teacher to supervise this independently-created essay.

This is mostly-homework in year 13.

Supervision begins in summer 2016;

this continues into Autumn 2016. Submission is January 2017.

You will be expected to independently select an essay title that will be approved by OCR. This work is independent and therefore means that you have no ability to draft versions of your essay to be repeatedly-assessed by your history teachers. We will supervise your progress by asking you questions and offering general guidance.

20% of A-level

This is considered as outstanding preparation for the type of work you will complete in Higher Education. Universities want you to be able to research, manage and write independently.