Studying modern history is vital to understanding the shape and complexity of the contemporary world. The History course in Year 10 and Year 11 tackles some of the major historical questions and controversies of the twentieth century, allowing students the chance to immerse themselves in the fascinating patchwork of events, individuals and wars that transformed the globe after 1919.

GCSE students at Eltham follow the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus, concentrating on International Relations since 1919 in Year 10, and Germany (1918-1945) in Year 11.

We consider the impact of the peace treaties following the Great War, how these contributed to another conflict just a generation later, and how this in turn led to the emergence and development of the Cold War. A visit to Berlin in the Summer term of Year 10 broadens students’ understanding of these aspects. In the ‘depth’ study the following year, students investigate the complexities of Weimar and Nazi Germany, considering how the horrors of 1930s Europe came into being.

Students also undertake an extended coursework essay in Year 11, engaging with a major historical question that has provoked debate amongst historians. Discussion, debate, source analysis, and independent reading, all lie at the heart of our exploration of the GCSE topics throughout the two-year course.


History is best seen an ongoing debate about what happened, and what mattered, in the past. The History Department at Eltham College encourages all students to take a critical approach to both contemporary sources and the work of historians, so they can reach their own considered judgements on important historical questions. Ultimately, we encourage students to see that ‘what happened’ and ‘what mattered’ are issues of interpretation.

All students study History in their forms in Years 7 to 9 before it becomes an optional subject in Year 10 and 11. We offer a broad History curriculum in Years 7 to 9, to provide students with a secure understanding of some of the major transformations in English and European history, across the medieval, early modern, and modern periods. We also expose students to different types of history – political, cultural, military, social and economic – to offer a number of ‘lenses’ through which the past can be viewed.

History Department aims:

  • To stimulate all students’ innate passion for studying the past, by using our teachers’ specialist knowledge to deliver a range of engaging and challenging learning episodes.
  • To develop students’ precise knowledge of different periods, regions, approaches, and debates between historians.
  • To cultivate students’ broader skills as scholars. Through their History lessons, we hope students will become:
    • ‘Critical consumers’ of sources and interpretations. Students will learn to take a judicious approach when investigating how the ‘traces’ of the past can be used as evidence for claims. They will also become increasingly comfortable evaluating the claims of other historians.
    • ‘Persuasive producers’ of historical writing. Our lesson activities provide regular opportunities for students to practise constructing a logical argument, whether orally or on paper.

Years 7 & 8

In Years 7 and 8, students have two lessons a week of History and one piece of homework. The structure of the course is broadly chronological, and comprises the following topics:


Year 7

The impact of the Norman Conquest

Medieval religious change

Monarchical power and political change

Social change: the Black Death and the Peasants’ Revolt

Year 8

The early Tudor Monarchs and the English Reformation

Elizabeth’s reign and the development of the English ‘empire’

The causes, course, and consequences of the English Civil War


Students explore the past mainly through analysing primary documents, reading the work of historians, and debating with their peers in lessons. Group activities, creative writing, the use of e-resources, and independent research in the Library, are also used to support students’ exploration of the past.

Year 9  

In Year 9, students have three lessons of History each week. In the first term, students explore the complexities of the British Empire during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, engaging with recent debate and scholarship on imperialism’s profound impact on Britain and the world. This leads into an in-depth study of the origins, key events, and global aftermath of the First World War, during the Michaelmas and Lent terms. This lays the groundwork for the beginning of the IGCSE course, the first part of which is taught in the Summer term.


History becomes an optional subject from Year 10 onwards. Students have four lessons of History each week, with two homework tasks. All students follow the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus, which is assessed via two examination papers and a piece of coursework. Following on from the Summer term of Year 9, the ‘core’ content for Papers 1 and 2 (focused on international relations between 1919 and c.2000) is taught over the course of Year 10, before students move on to the ‘depth study’ component (focused on Weimar and Nazi Germany) and their coursework assignment in Year 11. All students are provided with the latest edition of the Cambridge-endorsed textbook (both as an e-textbook, and a paper copy) and a number of additional bespoke resources prepared by their teachers.

Trips, Activities and Clubs

From Year 10, students are invited to attend the Sixth Form-led History Society, exposing them to talks by fellow students and invited guests, in order to broaden their understanding of different historical themes, periods, and debates. In addition, the Department currently offers two popular educational visits: Year 9 students visit Ypres and the Somme battlefield region as part of Field Week, and Year 10 students take a trip to Berlin in the Summer Term to support their study of the Germany and the Cold War.

  • Dr A T Davies BA, MA, PhD (Head of History)
  • Mr E Cavendish, BA (Head of Academic Scholarship and Senior Tutor)
  • Mr M Chesterton, BA (Head of Teacher Training)
  • Mr D Grinstead, BA (Senior Housemaster)
  • Mr A Higginson, BA (Teacher of Psychology)
  • Mr J Martin, BA, MA (Deputy Head)
  • Mrs K Powis-Holt, BA (Head of Politics)


School News

The latest leg of the Hans Woyda Mathematics Competition concluded on Wednesday with an impressive showcase of mathematical skills at St Dunstan’s College.
Last evening marked a significant milestone for the Eltham College Hans Woyda Team as they took the stage for their eagerly anticipated second league match of the academic year.
For our first ‘Meet The Teacher’ interview this academic year, we are diving into the world of mathematics to introduce André Astbury-Palmer, our new Maths Teacher at Eltham College.
Our Head of Junior School at Eltham College, Vikki Meier, shares her insights on the important decision of choosing the right school for your child.
On Sunday, our Chess team travelled to Eton to participate in the National Schools Rapid Play competition.