Studying history is one of the most popular activities of educated people. What is found on the bookshelves of people’s homes is proof of this. Being aware of the past through studying history heightens your powers to live your own life with perception and feeling.

The Sydenham High GCSE History course provides an understanding of key twentieth century events such as the Russian Revolution and the Cold War. In addition, pupils study a thematic course that charts migration in Britain through the last 1000 years, as well as a unit on the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign. With such a broad syllabus, pupils will be inspired and excited by the individuals and world-changing events that still resonate today.

Course content

There are four units of study in the Edexcel syllabus and they are examined in three exams at the end of year 11:

Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917-41
This is a depth study that covers the fall of the Tsar, the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of Stalin.

Early Elizabethan England, 1558-88
This is a depth study that focuses on challenges to Elizabeth’s rule, notably Mary Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada.

Superpower Relations and the Cold War, 1941-91
This unit focuses on the reasons for the development of the Cold War, key crises within the Cold War such as Cuban Missiles Crisis, and the fall of Communism across the Soviet Bloc and Russia.

Migration in Britain, c.800-present
This is a thematic study, designed to give pupils an overview of longer-term trends and changes. A closer study of Caribbean migration to Notting Hill from 1948 to 1970 will focus on primary and secondary source material.


Pupils have the opportunity to:

  • visit Cold War sites in Berlin in February 2023
  • go on a walking tour of key migration history sites in East London

Next steps

History is a popular subject that introduces pupils to skills required in A Level courses and in the world of work. Pupils learn to argue effectively and to evaluate source information critically. Pupils interested in careers in law, journalism, teaching and museums would benefit from having a History GCSE.

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