Changes to GCSE History from September 2013

Published: 30th July 2013

Most teachers will be aware that there are changes to GCSE History specifications.  These are in two phases: the first for teaching from September 2013 and the second for teaching from September 2015.  You will be aware that examinations are now linear rather than modular and that marks have been introduced for SPAG. Please check your Awarding Body for full details.

Changes are in response to the request from Ofqual to ‘strengthen' GCSE History specifications.  They will not affect all centres, depending on the options currently covered; but will have a significant impact on some centres.  You should check the precise changes with your board.  The main changes include:


OCR Modern World: certain combinations are no longer available in order to ensure that a wide enough span of history is covered.   In particular centres cannot enter candidates for the core unit ‘The interwar years 1919-1939' and ‘Germany 1918-45' or ‘Russia 1905-41' or ‘USA 1919-41'.   Equally, the core unit ‘Cold War, 1945-75' cannot be offered with either ‘Mao's China c1930-1976' or ‘USA, Land of the Free? 1945-75'.


Edexcel Modern World: all centres will have to study the Cold War, 1943-91.  The' Causes of the Great War' is expected to become a new controlled assessment topic.  The Unit 2 depth study will retain options on Germany, the USA and Russia.  Unit 3 will become a British unit, with an option on postwar Britain added.  US Civil Rights is expected to be available as a controlled assessment topic.  Changes to both content and questions are expected for the controlled assessment.


AQA Modern World: dates and subject content have been slightly revised for a number of units and it is now prohibited to study more than two of the following topics: Roaring 20s, Depression and New Deal and Race Relations in the USA.  


SHP Courses: There will also be changes to SHP courses, but they are likely to be less significant as the outline study fulfils the requirements to cover a longer period.  However, Edexcel have announced that they are unable to keep the ‘Work of the Historian' option in Unit 3, because, as an unseen paper, it is not comparable with the other choices.