Studying History at BSix
History is a collection of stories about how human beings have lived and died, fought and cooperated with each other in the shaping of our world. Together, these stories make up our collective memory. Just as our memory is considered important for each of us individually, collective memory is important for society.
How and why did a revolution take place in Russia in 1917? How and why did a revolution take place in England in the seventeenth century? What are the similarities of these revolutions and how are they different? Can we agree on what a revolution is? How did life change after the English revolution and what legacies of it do we live with today?
Answering these questions and studying these fascinating periods of history will help us make better sense of the present.
Yet History is not only about asking questions about what happened in the past but the struggle over its interpretation and meaning. We must ask: who gets to be part of History, and why? Which stories are told and remembered: which stories are forgotten? And who gets to decide? This is a battle endlessly waged, in all times, all over the world.
More specifically, History is enquiry; a way of answering specific questions about the past. As historians, we draw on sources of evidence - diaries, government records, photos, paintings, films, maps, and interviews etc. - which provide the foundation of historical knowledge. It is through these sources of evidence - that we have access to the past.
What you will study:
Route C: Revolutions in early modern and modern Europe
Paper 1: Britain 1625 -1701: Conflict, revolution and settlement
Paper 2: Russia in revolution 1894-1924
Paper 3: Civil Rights and race relations in the USA 1850-2009
Paper 4: Coursework
History Beyond the Classroom
History is brought to life at BSix, both within and beyond the classroom by students and teachers. Young historians have the opportunity to delve into local and national archives, libraries, museums, art galleries or cinemas, wherever relevant exhibitions or films may be showing. We also make every effort to enrich the curriculum by engaging with historians at the forefront of the field to speak at the college.
"The Spirit of '45"
Students studying British History were treated to a viewing of the film The Spirit of '45 with British film director Ken Loach. The film and discussion afterwards focused on the radical changes that took place in postwar Britain under Clement Attlee's Labour government that came to power in 1945.
"The Speech: The Story Behind Martin Luther King's Dream"
BSix Historians attended an audience with the Guardian journalist Gary Younge to discuss his new book "The Speech: The Story Behind Martin Luther King's Dream." Students had the opportunity to compare what they had learnt in the classroom with Younge's reinterpretation of King's part in the March on Washington in August 1963.
"An audience with two ex-Black Panthers"
Following on from the Martin Luther King event, BSix Historians attended an audience with two ex-Black Panthers, JoNina Abron Ervin and Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin. Students heard first hand accounts of the splintering of the civil rights movement in Sixties America.
"Masterclasses at The National Archives"
In preparation for A2 coursework BSix Historians attended a workshop at the National Archives, the official archive of the UK Government. The event was run by archivists and Oxford University historian Dr Peter Claus and focused on practical archival skills as well as showcasing the ways that professional historians use the archive. A2 historians now regularly use the archive to collect the best possible sources for their coursework.
"SOAS comes to BSix"
Dr John Parker, Head of History at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) and author of 'African History: A Very Short Introduction', delivered teaching sessions for A Level Historians at BSix. The sessions began with an overview of the relationship between Britain and Africa across the long twentieth century, providing important background for the A2 coursework essay. Students were given maps from the colonial period to compare with maps of decolonized Africa. Dr Parker then discussed his research in West Africa on the history of death and burial in Ghana and how he employed primary sources. Dr Parker also worked one to one with the young Historians on their individual coursework questions.
Past Exam questions:
How successful was Martin Luther King's campaign for civil rights in the years 1955-68?
Do you agree with the view that Labour governments in the years 1945–51 established a society with 'a significantly greater degree of social equality'?
Moody, Anne Coming of Age in Mississippi, Mass Market Paperback, 1992
Sanders, V Civil Rights in the USA, 1945-68 Access to History, Hodder Education, 2008
Lee, Stephen J Aspects of British Political History 1914-1995, Routledge 1996
Lynch, Michael Britain 1945-97 Hodder Education, 2008
Murphy, Derrick Edexcel GCE History: Russia in Revolution, 1881-1924: From Autocracy to Dictatorship Edexcel, 2009
Corin, Chris and Fiehn, Terry Communist Russia Under Lenin and Stalin Hodder Education, 2002
Parker, John A Very Short Introduction to African History, Oxford University Press 2007
Phillips, Steve Edexcel GCE History: A World Divided: Superpower Relations 1944-90 Edexcel, 2009
Tuck, Stephen We Ain't What We Ought To Be: The Black Freedom Struggle from emancipation to Obama, Cambridge, Mass, 2011
BSix History Alumni
BSix historians have gone on to study in dynamic History departments across the UK and at some of the UK's most prestigious universities. Some examples of student success:
Former BSix Historian Asta Diabate left the college in 2013 to study Ancient and Modern History at Brasenose College, Oxford. Having spent hours in the National Archive, Asta wrote a first class essay on Bechuanaland in Africa. Beyond the classroom, Asta was a stalwart of the 'Pem-Brooke' programme and awarded the annual prize at the summer school for her essay on 16th Century witch trials. Asta also helped found The Dead Historians Society, an extra curricula history group that included weekly discussions, museum, library and archive visits and projects that included working with artists on historical reconstruction.
Mahmoud came to BSix having attempted A Levels at two other London colleges. He left BSix in 2013 to study History at Pembroke College, Oxford. Mahmoud's enthusiasm for History emerged at AS Level during his study of the Russian Revolution where he gave an outstanding presentation on the dramatic events that led up to Revolution. Mahmoud carried his enthusiasm into A2 where he produced exemplary coursework on Tanzania. Mahmoud also took advantage of the diverse opportunities available at BSix, participating in the Pem-Brooke Programme and helping found the Dead Historians Society.
An exemplary student, Kassim Creary left BSix in 2013 to continue studying History at St Mary's University College, London. Kassim was always enthusiastic about History but like many BSix students found the transition from GCSEs to A Levels challenging. However, after a year of outstanding attendance, commitment and hard work, along with support from teachers and fellow students, Kassim progressed from an E grade to an A grade in AS History. At A2 Kassim explored the fascinating topic of the East Africa Campaign, finding archival research particularly rewarding.