Reading at A-Level

Student Guides

Melanie Jones, last updated: 20th June 2010

Reading at A-Level:

Q: How much am I expected to read?

At A-Level, in most subjects there is an expectation that you will read. History is no exception. This does not mean you have to go down to the library and get out 30 different books on Henry VIII and read them all from over to cover - unless you want to of course! The idea is that you read around topics. What this means is that you might read a particular chapter of a book that relates to the aspect of the course you are studying. Your teacher might tell you to read particular pieces and give you a list of suggested books to delve into - it will be up to you to delve into those books and others. If you are writing an essay - you might also want to use quotes of the opinions of the historians whose books you have read parts of in order to support your argument. If you are unsure, below are some examples of reading lists from popular A-Level topics as recommended by exam boards. The list is not exhaustive, and we view it as a work in progress which can be added to so if your topic is not here, and your teacher has a reading list - please ask them to submit it to us at

You will also be able to find the reading lists recommended by examination boards that relate to your topic on their websites.


Sample Reading Lists:

Student Reference AQA/Edexcel Reading Lists

Spain's Golden Age

TBC, A2 History: The Emergence of a Great Power? Spain, 1492-1556

Nelson Thornes, 2009



C Pendrill, Spain, 1474-1700

Heinemann, 2002

ISBN: 043532733X


G Woodward, Spain in the Reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella, 1474 -1516

Hodder Arnold, 1997

ISBN: 0340688521


J Hunt, Spain, 1474-1598

Routledge, 2001

ISBN: 0415222664


J Kilsby, Spain: Rise and Decline, 1474-1643, Chapter 13

Hodder Arnold, 1989

ISBN: 0340518073


S MacDonald, Charles V: Ruler, Dynast and Defender of the Faith 1500-1558

Hodder Arnold, 1992

ISBN: 034053558X


J Lotherington, Years of Renewal, 1470-1600 Chapters 2 and 8

Hodder Murray, 1999

ISBN: 0340721286


Tudors, Henry VIII, Elizabethan England

Henry VIII to Mary I 1509-58. 3rd Edition - cat 3

Hodder, June 2008

ISBN: 978-0340965924


Beer B. Rebellion and Riot,

Kate State University Press (2005)

ISBN: 0-87338-840-2


Guy J. Tudor England,

OUP (1998)

ISBN: 0192852132


Guy J. The Tudor Monarchy,

Arnold (1997)

ISBN: 0-340-65218-7


Heard N. Edward VI and Mary: A Mid-Tudor Crisis?

Hodder (1990)

ISBN: 0-340-53560-1


Hunt J. & Towle C. The Mid-Tudor Years.

Longman (2000)

ISBN: 0-582-28282-3


Rex R. The Tudors.

Tempus (2002)

ISBN: 0752433334


Barnard G. The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church,

Yale (2005)

ISBN: 0300109083


Bucholz R. & Key N. Early Modern England 1485-1714: A Narrative History. Blackwell (2003)

ISBN: 0-631-21393-7


D Murphy, A Keen, M Tillbrook and P Walsh-Atkins, England, 1485-1603

Collins Educational, 1999

ISBN: 0003271242


A Anderson and T Imperato, Access to History: An Introduction to Tudor England, 1485-1603

Hodder and Stoughton, 2001

ISBN: 0340683880


D Murphy, England 1485-1603

Collins Educational

ISBN: 0003271242


J McGurk The Tudor Monarchies, 1485-1603

Cambridge University Press, 1999

ISBN: 0521596653


A Weir, Henry VIII and his Court

Ballantine Books, 2002

ISBN: 0345437082


S Chrimes, Henry VII

Yale University Prsss, 1999

ISBN: 0300078838


D Starkey The reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics

Vintage, 2002

ISBN: 0099445107


D Murphy, A Keen, M Tillbrook and P Walsh-Atkins, The Tudor Century

Nelson Thornes, 1993

ISBN: 0174350635


I Dawson, England 1485-1603

Collins Educational, 1999

ISBN: 0003271242


R Carpenter The Church in England: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1529-1547

Nelson Thornes, 2009


S Ellsmore, D Hudson and D Rogerson, The Early Tudors

Hodder Murray, 2001

ISBN: 0719574846


C Pendrill, The English Reformation 1485-1558

Heinemann, 2000

ISBN: 0435327127


D G Newcombe Henry VIII and the English Reformation

Routledge, 1995

ISBN: 0415107288

ISBN: 0340618906


Edexcel GCE History Unit 3 A1 Protest, Crisis and Rebellion in England 1536-88

August 2010

ISBN: 9781846905070


Edexcel GCE History Unit 2 A1 Henry VIII: Authority, Nation and Religion, 1509-1540

July 2008

ISBN: 9780435308100


A2 History: The Triumph of Elizabeth

Nelson Thornes, 2009



B Mervyn The Reign of Elizabeth: England, 1558-1603

Hodder Murray, 2001

ISBN: 0719574862


Fellows N. Elizabeth I. Flagship Historymkers,

Collins (2004)

ISBN: 0-00-717316-4


Elizabeth I: Meeting the challenge, England 1541-1603. 3rd Edition - Cat 3

Hodder (July 2008)

ISBN: 978-0340965931


Doran S. Elizabeth I & Foreign Policy 1558-1603.

Routledge (2000)

ISBN: 0-415-15355-7


Levin C. The Reign of Elizabeth I.

Palgrave (2002)

ISBN: 0-333-65866-3


Loades D. M. Elizabeth I. The Golden Reign of Gloriana.

The National Archives, The Public Record Office (2003)

ISBN: 1- 903365-43-0


Doran S. Elizabeth and Religion

Routledge (1994)

ISBN: 0415073529


Strong R. Gloriana: The Portraits of Elizabeth I,

Thames and Hudson (1987)

ISBN: 071260944X







English Civil War



M Kishlansky, Monarchy Transformed: Britain 1603-1714

Penguin, 1997

ISBN: 0140148272


A Anderson, An Introduction to Stuart Britain 1603-1714

Murray Hodder, 1999

ISBN: 0340737441


R Wilkinson, Years of Turmoil: Britain, 1603-1714

Hodder Arnold, 1999

ISBN: 034069727X


D Sharp, The Coming of the Civil War, 1603 -1649 (Chapters 1 to 5)

Heinemann, 2000

ISBN: 043532713


A Anderson, Stuart Britain 1603-1714 (Chapters 1 to 4)

Hodder Murray, 1999

ISBN: 0340737441


A Anderson, The Civil Wars 1640-9 (Chapter 4)

Hodder Murray, 1995


M Bennett, The English Civil War (Part One)

Longman, 1995

ISBN: 0582353920


Bennett M. The Civil Wars 1637-1653.

Sutton Pocket Histories (1999)

ISBN: 0-7509-1912-4


Carlin N. The Causes of the English Civil War,

Historical Association, Blackwell (1998)

ISBN: 978-0631204510


Hunt T. The English Civil War,

Phoenix (2003)

ISBN: 978-1842126646



Nazi Germany & World War II



S Eddy & T Lancaster, European History for AS Level: Germany 1866-1945

Causeway Press, 2004

ISBN: 1902796209


S Waller, AS History: Germany, 1871-1925

Nelson Thornes, 2009


G. Layton, From Bismarck to Hitler:Germany 1890-1933

Hodder Murray, 1995

ISBN: 0340594888


J Staniforth,AS History: Totalitarian Ideology in Theory and in Practice c1848-1939

Nelson Thornes, 2008

ISBN: 9780748782697


M Blinkhorn, Mussolini and Fascist Italy

Routledge, 2006

ISBN: 0415262070


A Boxer, Hitler's Domestic Policy

Collins Educational, 1997

ISBN: 000327117X


A Farmer, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

Hodder Murray, 1998

ISBN: 0340697938  


M Lynch, Bolshevik and Stalinist Russia 1918-1956

Hodder Murray, 2005

ISBN: 0340885904


A Boxer The Rise of Italian Fascism

Collins Educational, 2000

ISBN: 0003271234


A Farmer Britain: Foreign Affairs, 1919-1939 (Access to History), 3rdEdition

Hodder Murray, 2006

ISBN: 0340907037


G Darby Hitler, Appeasement and the Road to War (Access to History)

Hodder Murray, 2007

ISBN: 0340929286


C Rowe History AS: A New Roman Empire? Mussolini's Italy, 1922-1945

Nelson Thornes, 2009


M Robson Italy: The Rise of Fascism 1915-1945 (3rd Edition)

Hodder Murray, 2006

ISBN: 0340907061


J Laver The Impact of Stalin's Leadership in the USSR 1924-1941

Nelson Thornes, 2008

ISBN: 9780748782673


S Lee, Stalin and The Soviet Union

Routledge, 1999

ISBN: 0415185734


D Evans, Stalin's Russia

Teach Yourself, 2005

ISBN: 0071452125


C Rowe, AS History: USA 1890-1945

Nelson Thornes, 2008

ISBN: 9780748782727


S Waller, Anti-Semitism, Hitler and the German People

Nelson Thornes, 2009

ISBN: 0748782605


A Farmer, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

Hodder, 1998

ISBN: 0340697938


J Hite, C Hinton, Weimar and Nazi Germany

John Murray, 2000

ISBN: 0719573432


D Engel The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews

Longman, 1999

ISBN: 0582327202


Edexcel GCE History Unit 3 D1 From Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germany 1900-45

September 2009

ISBN: 9780435308056



Stalin, USSR, Cold War



TBC, A2 History: Triumph and Collapse: Russia and the USSR, 1941-1991

Nelson Thornes, 2009



J Laver, From Stagnation and Reform: The USSR 1964-1991

Hodder Arnold, 1997

ISBN: 0340664134

Note - out of print


M Lynch, Stalin and Khrushchev: The USSR 1924-1964 Chapters 3, 4, 6 and 7

Headline Book Publishing, 2001

ISBN: 0340781440


J Keep, Last of the Empires: A History of the Soviet Union 1945-1991

Oxford Paperbacks, 2002

ISBN: 0192803190


Edexcel GCE History: A World Divided - Superpower Relations 1944-90

July 2009

ISBN: 9780435308124


Edexcel GCE History Unit 1 D4 Stalin's Russia, 1924-53

April 2009

ISBN: 9781846903052



Tudor England


Edexcel GCE History Unit 3 A1 Protest, Crisis and Rebellion in England 1536-88

ISBN: 9781846905070

August 2010


Edexcel GCE History Unit 2 A1 Henry VIII: Authority, Nation and Religion, 1509-1540

ISBN: 9780435308100

July 2008



International Relations/Cold War




GCE History: A World Divided - Superpower Relations 1944-90

ISBN: 9780435308124

July 2009




Edexcel GCE History Unit 1 D4 Stalin's Russia, 1924-53

ISBN: 9781846903052

April 2009




Edexcel GCE History Unit 3 D1 From Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germany 1900-45

ISBN: 9780435308056

September 2009