Aqa A2 History Coursework Topics

Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:32 PM

We are letting our students pick their own topics and set their own questions (with some guidance).

We've been doing something similar for a while under the old system - we were with Edexcel and there was an Individual Assignment option for Unit 4. The main differences are that the old IA had no 100yr restriction and it was written up in 4 (recently reduced to 3) hours under exam conditions.

But we will still let them work independently (mostly in the school library). There are always a few topics that staff are unfamiliar with but the kids love picking something a bit different, and there are loads of opportunities for cross-curricular stuff. Once they've picked a question, we advise them on a range of reading, help them focus their arguments, and give them general structural tips.

The main challenge is making sure that they work in a structured way over the weeks/months (it often takes them a shockingly long time just to pick a topic, and there's always a few who pick something based on the latest film). We try and set them intermediate deadlines - the main one is that they have to give a 5-minute presentation on their argument and the sources they've used.

We are lucky to have mainly pretty able students. But the borderline ones often enjoy the independence and rise to the occasion, and it's fantastic preparation for university (especially good to give Oxbridge candidates something to talk about at interview).

1. Stick to your word limit, its 2000 words for a reason. Also you do not want to be penalised for writing too much.

2. In your introduction really focus on the historic event you are assessing, make explicit reference to it, supporting with statistics or relevant historic policies.

3. Clearly concentrate on your coursework question, make clear in your introduction what the different interpretation`s views of this question are. Which ones you think are the most credible and why, support with historical evidence. Then make your judgment.

4. Remember at the end of the day your coursework is indeed similar to an AS History source exam. So structure it and think of it as an essay.

5. Some schools may have given you a structure for how to tackle the sources. If they have use it, it will assist the flow and structure of your essay. If they have not given you a structure, familiarize yourself with each of the interpretations. Additionally you might find it useful to start with the interpretations which support the question.

6. In your planning stages ensure you include all of the relevant quotes from whichever of the interpretations you are examining. You might find it useful to create a table for this.

7. Then you want to briefly examine or explain this quote in your own words and demonstrate how this supports the historian`s interpretation or view. Again you could include this in the table in a new column.

8. Next still using your table justify and support your analysis so far with relevant historical evidence to support the interpretation. This could be another column in your table.

9. Ensure you frequently refer to and demonstrate with quotes, explanation/analysis or historic evidence the historian`s credibility, persuasiveness or demonstrate the strength of their argument. Again use the terms "credibility", "credible argument", "credible", "supported" etc...

10. Introduce the next interpretation by noting how it is similar to the first. E.g. "Similarly" then follow the same format as before.

11. Then highlight the limitations or weaknesses of these interpretations by explaining what they have omitted or not examined.

12. Next demonstrate how the next interpretation differs from the previous interpretation, then follow the same format for this and your final interpretation.

13. Your conclusion should explain which two sources are the most credible and why, then answer the question

Best wishes with your coursework everyone.

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