Edexcel History FAQ

1st July 2009 at 01:00
Your questions on the new Edexcel history qualification answered by Mark Battye Edexcel's History Subject Advisor

Help on the Making of Modern Russia

Q Can you comment on the following assignment titles we are considering for CW38:

1. To what extent was the First World War 1914-18 a key turning point in the development of modern Russia in the years 1856-1964?

2. To what extent was the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 a key turning point in the development of modern Russia in the years 1856-1964?

With these assignments would there be an explicit need to compareevaluate these events in relation to other possible turning points e.g. 1905 or Lenin's death in 1924 or could candidates structure a response thematically, comparing for example the role of terrorideologypolitical organisation etc. pre and after the event Part B [One of the following]

1. How significant was the role of Sergei Witte in attempting to strengthen Tsarism?
2. How significant was the role played by Tsarina Alexandra in the fall of Tsarism?
3. How significant was Leon Trotsky in the consolidation of Bolshevik rule 1917-29?
4. How significant was Nikolai Bukharin in the development of the Soviet state 1917-38?
5. How significant was the role of Lavrenti Beria in the development of the Soviet state 1938-53?

Although we are reluctant to offersuggest it, would it be legitimate to assess individual Tsars [notably Alexander II], Lenin and Stalin or would this make the scope of the assignment simply too large?

A Your questions are fine. For the 100 year key turning point question students do need to compareevaluate events against other turning points. Candidates could also structure a response thematically as part of the process of coming to a judgement about a turning point.

Early Modern History Crown and Authority AS

Q Having prepared candidates for the first time for this new syllabus I was disappointed about the narrow range of questions set. I was very disappointed with the question bii. Specifically, I thought the question was almost synoptic in nature requiring as it did of broad knowledge of both political and religious themes in the 1530s. The board's guidance for this option states `questions will not be set that require detailed knowledge of theological debates' yet the first source presents students with an extract from the Act of Six Articles that needs detailed awareness of theology to understand the significance of communion in both kinds and the need for spoken confession. Furthermore, the second source concludes with the statement that the changes were `little short of a revolution in government' yet nowhere in the clarification of content notes is any reference made to the need to teach the significance of Cromwell's political reforms. A brief reference is made to the use made of parliament but this question goes far beyond that. In short I believe question bii required knowledge beyond that specified in the guidance and therefore students who chose this question were at a disadvantage to those who tackled the far more straight forward question.

A Thank you for your feedback on this question paper. I have made the senior examining team aware of your concerns. If you haven't already done so, please can you put your concerns in writing to the following address: Qualification Delivery and Award Manager for History, Edexcel, 190 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BH

All such correspondence is considered by the senior examining team during the standardisation process and when awarding grade boundaries. If you write to the above address we will respond formally in writing.

Unit 4 Germany Reunited 100 Year Study

Q Was just wondering if there is any way that this course can be restructured to have a focus on domestic rather than foreign policy? This would make it easier in terms of the texts used.

A This is fine - you are free to adapt any of our coursework programmes. The areas of enquiry we provide in the Getting Started Guide are just suggestions.
You can fill in a coursework proposal form (see link below) and email it to GCE2008History@edexcelexperts.co.uk and the Principal Moderator, Rosemary Rees will approve your content. You need the form: GCE History Coursework Programme Approval Form - Page 1 of 2

Here is an example of a centre designed coursework programme where they have adapted the content:

And another example:

For minor content changes there is no need to submit an approval form.

AS History Mass media, popular culture, social change post 1945

Q A couple of questions. Is there a text book specifically for the AS History mass media, popular culture, social change post 1945 course coming out at any time soon?
And with regards to A2 coursework is it acceptable for an entire sixth form group to address the same issue?

A Yes we are doing an Edexcel student book - it will be available through Heinemann at Christmas time - sorry it's too late for teaching in September. I have posted a sample chapter on our forum and hope to get more over the summer.

We also have an enhanced SOW which will help you in the absence of a student book - it was created by one of our examiners, Maggie Andrews, who is a specialist in this area. It is based on the standard SOW which is on our subject page but is in more depth and has some useful links:

We also have a couple of unofficial practice papers which were kindly donated by Diana Laffin at The Sixth Form College, Farnborough:

Re your question about A2 coursework - yes it is possible for all students to do the same question. Several schools are getting all students to do the same part B 100 year question but allowing a choice of Part A depth enquiry, depending upon what they are able to resource.

Controlled Assessment Submission

Q I was wondering whether it was possible for students to complete the Controlled Assessment in Year 10 but not submit it until Year 11 June? This way they will be fulfilling the 50% requirement but will only have one module to revise for.

A Yes this is absolutely fine - you can get your students to complete the Controlled Assessment in year 10, and then hold on to it securely until the summer of year 11. By submitting it in the final session, along with one further examined unit, you are satisfying the terminal assessment rule which requires 40% of the course (ie 2 units in the Edexcel spec) to be sat at the end.

Each task will be valid for two years with a new task produced each year, so from next year there will always be two tasks available. In future years teachers adopting this approach will need to ensure they are using the latest task. I have spoken to several teachers recently who will be adopting this approach.

Britain in transition

Q My school is moving to Syllabus A and I need to prepare for War and the Transition of British Society, 1931 - 1951. Is there a SOL available and can you recommend other resources apart from The Making of the Modern World?

A We are producing a SOW for all examined topics - our senior examining team are working on the SOW for this topic at the moment and I will post it on the website as soon as I can. I hope to get a draft copy soon which I will post on our forum.

We have our own Edexcel book for Unit 3: War and the Transformation of British Society - its available through Heinemann and was published a couple of weeks ago. Hodder has also produced a book on this topic by Steve Waugh and John Wright. There is also the new Hodder Ben Walsh book which covers the whole specification:

Support for topics

Q We are intending to do with our new KS4:
Syllabus B (SHP):
Germany 1918-45
Crime and Punishment
History of Surgery
CA: Changes in British Society 1955-75

Is this okay?; Do you have a SoW for Crime please like you have for Medicine?; Do you have a detailed topics-to-covercontent spec for the British 1955-75one? What could be offered as a modular exam at the end of Y10? (And can it be re-sat in Y11)

A Your combination of topics is fine. In the old specification you had to do a linked development study and source enquiry but now the specification is modular this is no longer necessary.

We have produced a SOW for Crime - I have posted a draft version on our forum - see link below (final version will go on the main Edexcel subject page as soon as it has been edited and checked):

I'm really pleased that so many people are choosing to teach the controlled assessment on Changes in British Society 1955-75. We are producing a free topic-specific teacher support book for all our controlled assessment options and these will be available on the website over the summer - they will contain exemplar SOW, specimen papers, exemplar student responses, suggested resources etc.

I'm also pleased to tell you that we are publishing a
student book for this CA topic. The published student book won't be available until next year but if you leave controlled assessment until year 11 you should have plenty of support in place to teach this topic.

Availability of exams:
Jan 2010 - Unit 2 only (as this is the first series we aren't offering all exams)
June 2010 - All units available
Jan 2011 - All examined units available (controlled assessment can't be submitted in Jan)
June 2011 - All units available

I have spoken to lots of teachers recently and many are taking the opportunity to enter for unit 2 in Jan 2010. Those who feel Jan 2010 is too early to enter students (at least in the first year of the new spec) are still entering students for one or two exams in June 2010. You just need to make sure you leave two units until the end to ensure you meet the terminal assessment requirement (40%). My advice would be to leave the submission of controlled assessment until the end plus one other exam.

An example of a perfectly modular course could be:
Jan 2010 - Unit 2
June 2010 - another examined unit plus Unit 2 resit
Jan 2011 - controlled assessment write-up (not submission) plus an examined unit resit
June 2011 - final exam plus controlled assessment submission (2 units satisfies terminal assessment rule)
This is just an example though.

You can resit any exam or CA once only and the best mark will count. However if you leave two units until the end it means you are effectively only able to resit two units. You can use a resit towards the terminal assessment however if you do so the resit mark will count - even if it is worse. This is risky so its probably safer not to rely on resits to make up the terminal assessment.

Britain 1955-75

Q Is there a link to the content for the Britain 1955-75 topic? I want to start downloading videos for it.

A The only content details we have for this topic at the moment are printed on page 44 of the specification. I have copied the content out below:

Change in British society 1955-75

Immigration: post war need for more workers, Commonwealth
immigration, immigrant I think Hodder are planning to produce a CDexperience - housing, work, race riots,
integration or segregation? Government role in race relations.

Sex discrimination and the changing role of women. The forces for social
change: the role of government's movements and individuals: feminism,
the Women's Movement, changes in work and education.

The Liberalisation of society: changes in the franchise; abolition of the
death penalty ; changing social attitudes: abortion, contraception;
changes in family life.

The swinging sixties? Youth culture: birth of the `teenager', beatniks,
mods and rockers, hippies, music, fashion, punks.

Apparently punks came after 1975 (thanks to the teacher who recently pointed that out to us!) so unfortunately it looks like we may have to remove them from the spec content.

For the part A enquiry there will be a choice of enquiries focussing on different content areas. You only need to teach the content relating to your chosen enquiry.
The part B representation task will always have the same focus but the sources will change. For this topic it will always be on: `The Swinging Sixties' - an accurate description of Britain in the 1960s?

For info the link below has the focus of each CA topic representation task:

Our free teacher support book will have a specimen question plus some extra sources for you to use. In preparation for teaching this topic you should try to get hold of various representations of the sixties. There is an AQA GCE AS book on the sixties which may contain some useful material to help prepare your teaching. We are also producing an AS text book for our AS Mass Media, Popular Culture and Social Change topic - that will be available at Christmas and again, may contain material you could use to help teach the course.

We produced an enhanced
SOW for our AS course and it has lots of useful website references, you may find some of these helpful in preparing to teach this CA topic. And by next year our student book will be available.

Hodder and Ben Walsh are planning to produce a CD Rom called Ben Walsh's GCSE Modern World History: 20th Century British History which is due out in June 2010. It is likely to cover the following topic areas:
Social Reform 1890-1030s
Britain at War WW1
Changing role of women
Britain between the wars
Wartime Britain 1939-45
Britains role in WW2
Post-War Britain (social and political)
Changing Britain 1970-90 (Thatcher. Falklands etc)

ActiveTeach - Can I use it on the Moodle?

Q We're thinking of investing in the ActiveTeach software and I have a techie question: Can it be uploaded on the school network or, preferably, the Moodle for pupils to access the ExamZone area for revision? Would we have to invest in expensive multiple licences?

A I checked this with our publishers and apparently ActiveTeach software can be uploaded to the school network and multiple licences are not required.

A2 Unit 3 Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germany 1900-45

Q Have you got more information on A2 Unit 3 Kaiser to Fuhrer?

A Unit 3 Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germany 1900-45 will be our most popular A2 option. We have recently been receiving lots of queries from teachers who want to know what books they can use to teach it and when they will be available. We are producing our own Edexcel student book which will be available in October from Heinemann. Due to this late publication date I have been putting sample chapters on our forum.

I had already posted sample chapters online
Sample Chapters 1-3:

Sample Chapter 4 (added 22 June)

Details of the
Edexcel book can be found below:

Hodder is also producing a new
Access to History book, written specifically for this option. That book is due out at the end of September - for more details see link below:

AEA History

Q Nothing that you can do it about this, I suppose, but can I say how sorry I am that QCA have pulled the plug on the AEA History exam, which was administered by Edexcel. Over the years I have entered small, select groups of students for this qualification, all of whom have said how much they enjoyed taking part and how it helped them gain a wider understanding and appreciation of History. It also helped them with Oxbridge interviews and UCAS applications. I looked forward to requesting copies of the answer papers as the detailed, erudite annotation by the examiners was a joy to read. The idea that the new A* grade will replace this is nonsense; the AEA tested an entirely different degree of Historical understanding to the A-Level, in the same way as the old S-Level, which I took when Adam was a lad, did. It will be much missed-what can now take its place to challenge keen, committed and highly able Historians?

A I agree with you that the new A* A-Level grade is no replacement for the AEA. I used to manage the AEA when I worked in exams management and was always very impressed with the standard of responses (as were the senior examiners). Have you thought about the new extended project qualification as a replacement for the AEA? It's not quite the same, obviously, but it does carry UCAS points and students should be able to do something interesting related to History. There is a link to the website with details below:

Crime and Punishment SoW

Q Just wondered if there is going to be an Edexcel scheme of work published online for Crime and Punishment. I realise we are a minority relative to medicine but it would be a huge help to us.

A Yes there is a SOW for Crime and Punishment. I have put a draft copy on our forum. These SOW are just being checked and edited - the final versions should go up on the main Edexcel GCSE History subject page very soon.

Controlled assessment

Q Can they re-do the controlled assessment if the grade is low?

A Yes - students can resit controlled assessment. It must be written from scratch under controlled conditions. The Edexcel GCSE specifications have 4 x 25% units. Each unit can be re-sat once only and the best mark will count. However, the terminal assessment rule means that 40% (2 units) must be sat at the end of the course when the student certificatescashes-in. In practice this means that you should leave two units until the final summer series.

We are advising teachers to leave the submission of controlled assessment until the end of the course so that it counts towards the terminal assessment. Because controlled assessment can be sat at any time during the course and held until the end before it is submitted, this gives you maximum flexibility with the examined units. By holding back the submission of controlled assessment until the end, and doing 1 examined unit at the end you satisfy the terminal assessment rule.

For example - this is one way of running a perfectly modular course and satisfying the terminal assessment rule:
Jan 2010 - Unit 2 exam
June 2010 - Unit 1 exam (and Unit 2 resit)
Jan 2011 - Controlled assessment write-up (and unit 1 resit)
June 2011 - Unit 3 exam and submission of controlled assessment (2xunits=meets terminal assessment rule)
In practice this means students are only likely to resit two units. I suspect most of our centres will leave the submission of controlled assessment until the end and therefore won't be resitting it.

It is possible to rely on a resit to make up the terminal assessment BUT the resit mark will count - even if it is worse than the original. This is risky so its safer to not rely on a resit to meet the terminal assessment 40% requirement. You could, of course, leave 2 examined units until the end and sit controlled assessment in the first year, and resit in the second year. However, I feel that this gives you less flexibility with the rest of your course as you would have to leave two exams until the final summer series. I know some centres are doing this though.

Another possibility is doing two controlled assessments and submitting the best one. We will be releasing a new task each year but each task is valid for two years. This means that by next year you will always have a choice of controlled assessment tasks. It would be possible to sit one task in the first year and the alternate task in the second year and submit the best one in the final summer.


Q My school is going from SHP Medicine through time to the new Edexcel medicine, specification A. Any advice on the similarities and differences? How much time is my dept going to need to spend adjusting?

A The new Edexcel SHP specification is very similar to the old one, except for the fact that it is now far more flexible due to its modularity (4x25% units) so you no longer need to do a linked development study and source enquiry (although you can if you still wish to). There is also now more choice due to the addition of the Warfare development study and source enquiry, and the addition of the Work of the Historian source paper. The content is based on the old specification with only minor amendments:

In Unit 1 Medicine development study - Hospitals and Training have moved to the core and Public Health has moved to the extension. Surgery has moved to the Unit 3 transformation of surgery source paper. The Unit 3 Surgery paper is the same as the old paper 21.

Pages 7, 8 and 9 of the
Teachers Guide have charts which show the similarities and differences between the new Edexcel specification and the old specifications for all 3 major UK awarding bodies. Some other improvements are that there are no longer nominated topics and the development studies now count as British History so you don't need to worry about doing British History in Unit 2 or Controlled Assessment.

We have produced a detailed Scheme of Work for Medicine and Surgery which can be found on the Edexcel website.

There is also a SOW for Unit 2 Germany. We are doing SOW for all options and they are currently being written and edited - I have put the Crime and Punishment
draft SOW on our forum for anyone who is interested in that option.

The Edexcel student books for Medicine and Germany are now available - you can find out more details on the
Heinemann website.

If you order an evaluation pack you get a free copy of the Medicine book. There will also be a Teachers Guide available in August.
Sample chapters for these can be found below:


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