History is a fascinating subject. You are History, a product of your own personal history but also a product of your family’s, community’s, society’s, nation’s and planet’s history. You are also making History. History is about stories (it’s in the name!) and it is such an exciting story because you get to play a part in it. History encompasses vast numbers of different societies, countries and time periods, and stretching far beyond what can ever be covered within the classroom alone.
If you enjoy History, and particularly if you think you would like to study the subject at a higher level (or a related subject e.g. International Relations, Archaeology, Sociology, Social Anthropology, American Studies, Politics etc.) then this curriculum is designed for you. Universities want to see genuine love and knowledge for your chosen subject, and so extending your awareness into new historical areas is critical. However this is not just about garnering things to mention in a UCAS personal statement, it is for any of you with a passion for History and a thirst to find out more.
If you would like to have a discussion about anything you choose to pursue from the list below, or have other ideas and suggestions, Mr Maynard will be delighted to have a chat, or to give general advice on pieces of work. Remember, though, this is your opportunity to take your studies and investigations into new and exciting directions and so this work will not be formally set, assessed or marked.
Here we are not talking about reading dusty old textbooks (although they can be fun, honest!) but novels that have an historical setting or theme that will help you understand more about that space and time. Use the links below to find something that interests you or ask Mr Maynard in the History department or Mrs Briddon in the Library.
Bernard Cornwell – loads of books most popular of which are the Sharpe series about a soldier fighting in the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He has also written books based around the time of King Arthur and of Alfred the Great.
Russia – I am fascinated by Russian history! Simon Sebag Montifiore has written novels based in Russia. Gillian Slovo’s The Ice Road tells of the Siege of Leningrad in World War Two; The Siege by Helen Dunmore is also based in Leningrad in World War Two; Tom Rob Smith has written a series of novels about the secret police in the USSR after Stalin; Sam Eastland has a series of books about Inspector Pekkala who works for Stalin. You could get really impressive and dip into some Pushkin, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy.
WW2 – The Machine Gunners, Cornelius Ryan’s books ‘The Longest Day’ and ‘A Bridge too Far’. Goodnight Mr Tom and Carrie’s War both look at evacuation.
Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel both write well regarded Historical fiction largely based in the Medieval and Early Modern Period.
Subscribe to magazines like BBC History magazine, GCSE Hindsight, Modern History Review, History Today, or even Horrible Histories.
Year 12 and 13 read something about History as an academic discipline such as Richard Evans, Peter Tosh, John Arnold, E H Carr, Arthur Marwick especially if you are thinking of History at university.
Some lists that might be helpful!
Ancient Britain http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/history/handsonhistory/ancient_reading.pdf
Amazon bestsellers – children’s historical fiction http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Childrens-Historical-Fiction/zgbs/books/2926
Good Reads Top 500 –http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/650.Best_Children_s_Historical_Fiction
Bookworm list http://www.bookworm4kids.com/Historical_Fiction.html
This entry on Wikipedia might help you find something focused on a particular period http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_fiction
If you read something you like tell us about it so we can recommend it to others. If you’ve enjoyed something look for other books by that author or at alternatives that sites like Amazon recommend.
Again we do not mean long and dull documentaries (though they can be fun, honest!) but films with an historical theme or setting. Make sure they are AGE APPROPRIATE though!
Some suggestions (certainly not a complete or exhaustive list!)
Stuarts – Cromwell, To Kill a King,
WW2 – Pearl Harbor, Saving Private Ryan, Longest Day, Bridge Too Far, Goodnight Mr Tom, Enemy at the Gates
WW1 – Oh What a Lovely War, My Boy Jack, Hill 60, Casablanca,
Holocaust – Boy in Striped Pyjamas, Schindler’s List, The Pianist, Life is Beautiful
Cold War – 13 Days, Platoon, Birdsong
USA – Bugsy Malone, Gettysburg, Cotton Club, Untouchables
Slavery – 12 Years a Slave, Amistad
A chronological list of historical films from our good friends at Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_historical_period_drama_films#Films_set_in_the_early.2Fmid_20th_century
An IMDb list of the best history films http://www.imdb.com/list/ls009668055/
Another list from IMDb of best history films http://www.imdb.com/list/ls000020512/
There are lots of History writing competitions that you could get involved in.
The Historical Association run various competitions for different ages
You could Google ‘History of Parliament competitions’
Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities offer essay competitions for 6th formers (St Hilda’s college Oxford, St John’s College (Ancient History) Oxford, the Julia Wood prize from St Hugh’s, Oxford, the Vellacott History Prize from Peterhouse, Cambridge and Robson History prize from Trinity, Cambridge.
You could even set up your own blog to express history related views, review books you’ve read or films you’ve watched. Or make contributions to other blogs, reviews etc.
Educational visits don’t have to be with school! Go out for the day to see a sight of historic interest. Combine it with a spot of shopping, a stroll in the country, a picnic – make it fun!
Museums – Reading Museum, Ashmolean (Oxford), Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and Milestones Museum (Basingstoke).
Look at National Trust and English Heritage sites – near here are the beautiful The Vyne, Farnham Castle, Waverley Abbey, the Roman walls at Silchester, Runnymeade (Magna Carta 800 years old!) and Basildon Park.
Castles and posh places – Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, Donnington Castle, Odiam Castle, Arundel Castle, Bodiam Castle, Farnham Castle, Guildford Castle and Basing House are all nearby.
What about towns and cities with special histories like Portsmouth and its links to the navy, Aldershot and the army, Bath and its Roman heritage, Salisbury and its magnificent cathedral and nearby Old Sarum.
And that’s before we even start thinking about all that is available in London! (Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Cabinet War Rooms, the Cutty Sark, all those magnificent museums like the Imperial War Museum (which has just been re-vamped), the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum…).
You might go to lectures or special exhibitions. If you are considering a History degree visit universities and consider participating in something run by Debate Chamber for example http://www.debatechamber.com/
Join History societies and groups – they usually offer good discounts for students or are even free!
The Historical Association offer concessionary student membership and access to a whole world of lovely history things, including material to help with GCSE and A level study. Then join your local Historical Association group. www.history.org.uk
Join the National Trust, English Heritage, Young Archaeologists Club, your local history society, local museum.
Why not volunteer for a local museum, for the National Trust or to go on an archaeological dig?
Use your Facebook and/or Twitter account for something positive!
Follow History organisations (Historical Association, History Today, History Channel, university History departments) and historians (#twitterstorians (sad I know!) – I think Greg Jenner, Tom Holland, James Holland, Frank MacDonough, Roger Moorhouse, Helen Weinstein, Dan Snow, Lucy Worsley are all a good follow but focus on your specific interests.
Read (maybe even write!) history blogs and just be aware of what is going on!
Remember how more and more universities and employers are looking at your digital footprint when considering applications. Do something to make is a positive one!
Keep a diary of what you do – note down the date and offer a brief comment on what you learnt and thought of the book/film/visit/website or whatever.