History

Find out more about studying History at Westminster

History

  • About
  • Curriculum
  • Enrichment
  • Staff
  • After Westminster
  • About

    Westminster pupils are instinctively curious, inquisitive and sceptical. This is why so many of them love studying History here. Knowledge about the past is empowering and energising, as is an understanding of how to scrutinise and question received wisdoms. Historical study provides all these things and at Westminster this happens in an environment where expectations of scholarly rigour are combined with vigorous debate and robust argument.

    Westminster’s History teachers are all experts in their different fields, but they share with their pupils an enthusiasm for the diversity and complexity of the past. Pupils will encounter some challenging concepts – colonialism, fascism and the brutalities of war, for example – but through learning how to interpret historical sources, construct written arguments and justify their opinions, they will be encouraged to discuss, analyse and think critically about them. And by making historical connections they will be equipped to understand the range and depth of human experience and benefit from the emotional awareness that flows from this. Our aim is for pupils to leave us with the ability to evaluate more effectively both their own lives and modern societies through reference to those of the past.

    We are also uniquely fortunate in offering our subject in such beautiful and historic surroundings. Our very environment offers both setting as well as inspiration for the study of History at Westminster School.

    Department Contact Dr Richard Huscroft
    richard.huscroft@westminster.org.uk
  • Curriculum
    Lower School

    During the Fifth Form (Year 9), pupils study aspects of 19th-century European imperialism, with particular focus on Africa, India and China. They then go on to study the causes and course of the First World War. Together these topics allow the pupils to consider the role of the state and its relationship with the individual, patriotism and nationalism, the policies and practices of the British and other European empires towards the peoples under their authority, individual conscience, the limits of human endurance and the moral depths into which both individuals and societies can descend.

    In the Lower and Upper Shells (Years 10 and 11), we follow the CAIE IGCSE syllabus – a study of international relations from 1918 to 2005. We begin by focussing on the 1920s and the attempts to build a peaceful global order in the aftermath of the First World War, followed by the failure of this experiment as fascism spread across Europe in the 1930s. We then cover key moments in the Cold War – the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War – as well as the nature of Soviet control in Eastern Europe and the causes of conflict in the Gulf region between 1970 and 2005. The course concludes with a depth study of Russia from 1905-1941. This takes in the fall of Tsarism, the Bolshevik Revolution and the communist regimes of Lenin and Stalin until the entry of the USSR into the Second World War. There is no coursework at IGCSE.

    Syllabus & Code
    CAIE IGCSE 0977 History
    Upper School

    Pupils in the Upper School follow the OCR A Level syllabus. Individual pupils each have two History teachers who between them teach three options from the OCR syllabus across two years. Pupils also complete a piece of coursework in the Remove (Year 13): a 3000 to 4000 word essay on a topic arising out of their taught units.

    There is no single A Level curriculum taken by all pupils. Pupils will study those three topics from within the syllabus that their teachers choose to teach. Between them, therefore, our A Level historians study a wide range of historical areas ranging from Charlemagne in the eighth century to ‘Appeasement’ and the Vietnam War in the twentieth. Our preferred practice is to arrange the teaching so that the three topics delivered to all pupils are both chronologically and geographically apart. The richness of this provision enhances the vitality and variety of historical study at Westminster, as our young Historians come to appreciate the similarities, differences and resonances between the different periods they study and between those and the present day. Pupils gain a general historical awareness, as well as a strong foundation for historical study at university.

    Syllabus & Code
    OCR A Level H505 History
    Sixth Form Entry
    Subject requirements for the course
    We regularly accept pupils in the Sixth Form (Year 12) who have not previously studied History in any formal way. Enthusiasm for the subject and a willingness to work hard and join in the debate are all we require.

    Entrance Examination

    The History examination for applicants to the School in the Sixth Form takes the form of an hour-long source exercise. There is one question on one extended text. The aim is to set the source analysis on a period or topic of history that no candidate will have formally studied at school. This provides a level playing-field for candidates and gives them the chance to show how they can read historical sources with care and discrimination and respond critically to unfamiliar material. We are looking for candidates who can communicate their interest and commitment to the past through informed analysis.

    Overseas Candidates
    There is no (I)GCSE requirement for those who attend schools overseas that do not prepare pupils for (I)GCSE examinations. Candidates will be considered for a place based on their performance in the School’s entrance examinations and a transcript of results from their current school.
  • Enrichment

    There is a weekly History Society in which pupils give talks about their own areas of historical interest. We also welcome visiting speakers regularly throughout the year. A history magazine, LJR, is published twice a year and the pupils’ appreciation of the past has been enhanced by visits to Berlin, the Middle East, Russia and Paris.

  • Staff

    * denotes Head of Department
    † denotes Housemaster

    Ms Helena Barton (HLB) — Head of Sixth Form
    Dr Giles Brown (GPAB)
    Mr Tom Edlin, OW (TPJE)  †
    Dr Richard Huscroft (RMH) — Head of History  *
    Mr Gareth Mann (GDM) — The Master of The Queen’s Scholars  †
    Dr Mark Parry (MRP)
    Mr David Riches (CDR) — Sports Centre Director; Head of Lower School Expeditions; PE  *
    Dr Gary Savage (GJS) — Head Master
    Dr Gabrielle Ward-Smith (GDWS)
  • After Westminster

    A relatively large number of Westminster pupils choose History as an undergraduate subject, either as a single honours course or in combination with another subject. Pupils are supported in their preparation for the challenges of admissions tests and interviews. A History degree is widely regarded by employers as one of the best general intellectual trainings available. Trained historians are valued for their independence of thought, critical awareness, flexibility of mind, multi-cultural sensitivity and communication skills, and go on to a very wide variety of careers in finance, law, government, the media and the arts.

"This is the most incredible place to teach and study History. We only have to look out of the window to see History around us and in the making."

— Mr Edlin, Teacher of History

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