HE Exams Wiki
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For history there is a choice from two International GCSEs (IGCSEs) and five GCSEs.

IGCSEs from CAIE are available for sittings in November and Summer

GCSEs are available for sittings in the Summer only.

From November 2023, Edexcel International GCSE History will also be available in November. Until then, it is Summer only.

New History GCSEs (without coursework) were available for first examination in 2018 (teaching from 2016).

  • Edexcel GCSE History (2016)
  • AQA GCSE History (8145)
  • Eduqas GCSE (9-1) History
  • OCR History A
  • OCR History B (Schools History Project)
  • Edexcel International GCSE History (4HI1)
  • CIE IGCSE History

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Related subjects:

  • OCR Ancient History
  • OCR Classical Civilisation

More on Classical Civilisation and Ancient History

Edexcel GCSE History (2016)

This is the most commonly taken history GCSE, both for private candidates and in schools.

Specification code 1HI0

Specification and information http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/history-2016.html

There are no forbidden combinations of options within this GCSE

Paper 1: Thematic study and historic environment

(Paper codes: 1HI0/10–12) 1hr 15 mins, 30%

Choose one of:

  • 10: Crime and punishment in Britain, c1000–present and Whitechapel, c1870–c1900: crime, policing and the inner city.
  • 11: Medicine in Britain, c1250–present and The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: injuries, treatment and the trenches.
  • 12: Warfare and British society, c1250–present, and London and the Second World War, 1939–45.
  • 13: Migrants in Britain, c800-present, and Notting Hill, c1948-c1970. (first assessment 2022)

Paper 2: Period study and British depth study

(Paper codes: 1HI0/20–29) 1 hour and 45 minutes, 40%

One of the following British depth study options:

  • B1: Anglo-Saxon and Norman England, c1060–88
  • B2: The reigns of King Richard I and King John, 1189–1216
  • B3: Henry VIII and his ministers, 1509–40
  • B4: Early Elizabethan England, 1558–88.

AND one of the following period study options:

  • 20/21: Spain and the ‘New World’, c1490–c1555
  • 22/23: British America, 1713–83: empire and revolution
  • 24/25: The American West, c1835–c1895
  • 26/27: Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941–91
  • 28/29: Conflict in the Middle East, 1945–95.

Paper 3: Modern depth study

(Paper codes: 1HI0/30–33) 1 hour and 20 minutes, 30%

Students take one of the following modern depth studies:

  • 30: Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917–41
  • 31: Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918–39
  • 32: Mao’s China, 1945–76
  • 33: The USA, 1954–75: conflict at home and abroad.


Pearson Edexcel publish a student book and a revision guide for each option. [Pearson Edexcel Student Books]

Alternatively Hodder Education publish Student and Revision books for many (but not all of the options). Hodder Edexcel GCSE History

Seneca Learning - an online, free alternative to a textbook. Provides exam-board specific courses with content written by examiners. The Seneca learning platform uses neuroscience to make students learn 2x faster.

AQA GCSE History (8145)

Specification and information http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/history/gcse/history-8145

Options to be declared at point of entry

Paper 1: Understanding the modern world

(50% marks, 2 hrs)

Section A: Period studies

Choose one of the following options

  • AA America, 1840–1895: Expansion and consolidation
  • AB Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship
  • AC Russia, 1894–1945: Tsardom and communism
  • AD America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality

Section B: Wider world depth studies

Choose one of the following options:

  • BA Conflict and tension: The First World War, 1894–1918
  • BB Conflict and tension: The inter-war years, 1918–1939
  • BC Conflict and tension between East and West, 1945–1972
  • BD Conflict and tension in Asia, 1950–1975
  • BE Conflict and tension in the Gulf and Afghanistan, 1990–2009 (page 21)

Paper 2: Shaping the nation

(50% marks, 2 hrs)

Section A: Thematic studies

Choose one of the following options:

  • AA Britain: Health and the people: c1000 to the present day
  • AB Britain: Power and the people: c1170 to the present day
  • AC Britain: Migration, empires and the people: c790 to the present day

Section B: British depth studies including the historic environment (Historic environment site specified by AQA for each option and changes annually.)

Choose one of the following options:

  • BA Norman England, c1066–c1100
  • BB Medieval England: the reign of Edward I, 1272–1307
  • BC Elizabethan England, c1568–1603
  • BD Restoration England, 1660–1685


Seneca Learning - A free learning platform that has exam-board specific courses written by senior examiners. This platform uses neuroscience to make students learn 2x faster. It covers all of the content required for the exam, plus some background information for students aiming for a 9!

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Eduqas GCSE (9-1) History

Specification and information https://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/history-gcse/#tab_overview

Component 1: Studies in depth

(split into two papers of 1 hour each). 50% of qualification. Options must be from different historical eras

Choose one British Study from the following:

  • 1A. Conflict and Upheaval: England, 1337-1381
  • 1B. The Elizabethan Age, 1558-1603
  • 1C. Empire, Reform and War: Britain, 1890-1918
  • 1D. Austerity, Affluence and Discontent: Britain, 1951-1979

And Choose one non-British study from the following:

  • 1E. The Crusades, c.1095-1149
  • 1F. The Voyages of Discovery and Conquest of the Americas, 1492-1522
  • 1G. Germany in Transition, 1919-1939
  • 1H. The USA: A Nation of Contrasts, 1910-1929

Component 2: Studies in Breadth

(split into two papers of 45 minutes for the Period Study and 1 hour 15 minutes for the Thematic Study), 50% of qualification. See specification for permitted combinations.

Centres choose one Period Study from the following:

  • 2A. The Development of the USA, 1929-2000
  • 2B. The Development of Germany, 1919-1991
  • 2C. The Development of the USSR, 1924-1991
  • 2D. The Development of the UK, 1919-1990

Centres choose one Thematic Study from the following:

  • 2E. Changes in Crime and Punishment in Britain, c.500 to the present day
  • 2F. Changes in Health and Medicine in Britain, c.500 to the present day
  • 2G. The Development of Warfare in Britain, c.500 to the present day
  • 2H. Changes in Entertainment and Leisure in Britain, c.500 to the present day

The requirement to study an historic site is part of the Thematic Study. Site nominated by Equpas and changes every two years.

GCSE OCR History A

Specification and information http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse-history-a-explaining-the-modern-world-j410-from-2016/

Component Group 1

(50%, 1 hour 45 minute paper)

Period study

  • International Relations: the changing international order 1918–2001

Non-British depth study (choose one from:)

  • China 1950–1981: The People and the State
  • Germany 1925–1955: The People and the State
  • Poland 1956–1990: The People and the State
  • Russia 1928–1964: The People and the State
  • South Africa 1960–1994: The People and the State
  • The USA 1919–1948: The People and the State
  • The USA 1945–1974: The People and the State

Component Group 2 and 3

British Thematic Study (25% 1hr paper) with British Depth Study and study of the historic environment (25%, 1 hr 15 paper)

  • Migration to Britain c.1000 to c.2010 with The Impact of Empire on Britain 1688–c.1730 with Urban Environments: Patterns of Migration
  • Power: Monarchy and Democracy in Britain c.1000 to 2014 with The English Reformation c.1520–c.1550 with Castles: Form and Function c.1000–1750
  • War and British Society c.790 to c.2010 with Personal Rule to Restoration 1629–1660 with Castles: Form and Function c.1000–1750

The Historic Environment component (part of Group 3) changes every year and is set by OCR.

GCSE OCR History B

Specification and information http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse-history-b-schools-history-project-j411-from-2016/

British History

Thematic Study (choose one from)

  • The People’s Health, c.1250 to present
  • Crime and Punishment, c.1250 to present
  • Migrants to Britain, c.1250 to present

British Depth Study (choose one from)

  • The Norman Conquest, 1065–1087
  • The Elizabethans, 1580–1603
  • Britain in Peace and War, 1900–1918

History Around Us

Offers centres a free choice of site. Site must be approved.

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Private communication suggests that private candidates could submit their own proposal or use the one approved for the centre.

This makes this choice of GCSE a bit more complicated than others. It will require more co-ordination with board and centre.

World History

Period Study

  • Viking Expansion, c.750–c.1050
  • The Mughal Empire, 1526–1707
  • The Making of America, 1789–1900

World Depth

  • The First Crusade, c.1070–1100
  • Aztecs and the Spanish Conquest, 1519–1535
  • Living under Nazi Rule, 1933–1945

Not all combinations allowed - British Depth and World Depth must NOT be same era.

The Colosseum, taken during a home-ed family tour.

Edexcel 9-1 International GCSE 4HI1

Similar to the old syllabus, with a change to 9-1 grading and minor changes in structure to bring it closer to the new GCSE.

  • First exams in Summer 2019.
  • Exams currently in summer only. From November 2023, they will be available in Summer and November.
  • 2 papers, 1 hour 30 minutes each.

Edexcel Information and Specification for IGCSE History 4HI1

Edexcel Update on changes to syllabus - teacher support document. Changes appear relatively minor but there are some adjustments to make the new IGCSE closer to the new GCSE and to ensure it continues to provide good progression to A-level history.


Paper 1 - Depth Studies.

Students must study at least two depth studies from the following.

  1. The French Revolution, c1780–99
  2. Development of a nation: unification of Italy, 1848–70
  3. Germany: development of dictatorship, 1918–45
  4. Colonial rule and the nationalist challenge in India, 1919–47
  5. Dictatorship and conflict in the USSR, 1924–53
  6. A world divided: superpower relations, 1943–72
  7. A divided union: civil rights in the USA, 1945–74
  8. South Africa: from union to the end of apartheid, 1948–94

Paper 2 - Investigation and Breadth Studies. One Investigation study and one Breadth study.

Investigation: one historical investigation from the following.

  • A1 The origins and course of the First World War, 1905–18
  • A2 Russia and the Soviet Union, 1905–24
  • A3 The USA, 1918–41
  • A4 The Vietnam Conflict, 1945–75
  • A5 East Germany, 1958–90

Breadth study in change - one topic from the following.

  • B1 America: from new nation to divided union, 1783–1877
  • B2 Changes in medicine, c1848–c1948
  • B3 Japan in transformation, 1853–1945
  • B4 China: conflict, crisis and change, 1900–89
  • B5 The changing role of international organisations: the league and the UN, 1919–c2011
  • B6 The changing nature of warfare and international conflict, 1919–2011
  • B7 The Middle East: conflict, crisis and change, 1917–2012

Cambridge IGCSE History

This is available as two different specifications, which are identical except for the grading system used. Cambridge IGCSE History (0470) A-G grading

Cambridge IGCSE History (0977) 9-1 grading

  • Exams available in November and June
  • This exam has an Alternative to Coursework paper and is available to private candidates.
  • There are topic changes for each examination session - check specification for the year exams are to be sat.

Paper structure

  • Paper 1 2 hours. 2 essay-style questions.
  • Paper 2 - 2 hours. 6 questions. (N/B Prescribe topic for this paper changes with each sitting)
  • Paper 4 - alternative to coursework - 1 hour. 1 question on a depth study.

NB: Component 3 is coursework, which is not normally available to external candidates; you take paper 4 instead.


Choose either

  • Option A The nineteenth century: the development of modern nation states, 1848–1914
  • Option B The twentieth century: international relations since 1919

At least one Depth Study:

  • The First World War, 1914–18
  • Germany, 1918–45
  • Russia, 1905–41
  • The United States, 1919–41
  • China, c.1930–c.1990
  • South Africa, c.1940–c.1994
  • Israelis and Palestinians since 1945

"Cambridge IGCSE History offers the opportunity to study world history from the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century." Frequently Asked Questions on the specification, from CIE

Textbooks for CIE

Cambridge IGCSE Modern World History: Student's Book (History In Focus) by Ben Walsh and Michael Scott-Baumann To be published 25 Oct 2013.  The author's previous books on other specifications have had good reviews.

Twentieth Century History: IGCSE: International Relations since 1919, by Tony McAleavy  

Covers all of core B.  Understand the book, do the exercises and that's all you need (or so it would appear).

20th Century History for Cambridge IGCSE, by John Cantrell, Neil Smith, Peter Smith, Ray Ennion  

Covers all of the whole course including depth studies.  Recently released - so no review yet. The extract on OUP's website looked good though.

If you search "Vimeo videos - Simon Hinds"  You will find he has short videos which are basically summaries of the first book.  We watch those first then summarise the book.

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Projects and Ideas for History Fans

Many home educating families take part in living history events and re-enactments. Ask on any home-ed forum for ideas.

Extended projects and essay competitions are a way to get recognition for your in-depth studies which go beyond the syllabus.

Courses & Resources

If you choose a correspondence course, note that usually tuition will only be provided for specific options, so you will not normally be able to focus on your own areas of interest  in the syllabus.

An alternative to a correspondence course is working through the topics of your choice, and having sessions with a history tutor to mark it and to hone exam technique.  These tutor sessions can be face-to-face with a local tutor, or online, which is usually cheaper.  Some tutors will mark work for you by email, on a per-item fee basis, so that you do not have to commit to regular tutor sessions.

The exam board website will usually list suggested resources, eg on the Edexcel IGCSE History page, look under 'Teacher Resources'.

Comments from Samantha Eddis, a home-educating parent and online history tutor:

I have taught CIE IGCSE History for the past few years, and I am currently facilitating it at an accelerated rate to a student via Skype and emails.  It is completely possible for a home-ed student to do a lot of the work on her own (researching and resourcing material makes learning history much more active and enjoyable), but having assignments marked can also help.

Samantha lists a great collection of free internet resources for CIE IGCSE History on her [IGCSE History page].

Comments from another member of the HE-Exams Yahoogroup:

My son took Edexcel IGCSE History last summer. We found the NEC course very helpful, especially with exam technique. While you have no choice of topics studied,  the trade off is that all the information you need is in one file and you do not have to search for relevant textbooks. There are also numerous assignments throughout the course which are marked promptly. We found one of the two markers we had provided very useful and detailed marking, the other less so. The NEC also provided a list of relevant videos and additional reading which we also found very enjoyable. I found that the major advantage of using a distance learning course for history was that I could relax and not worry as to whether we had covered all the content in sufficient detail.

[CIE IGCSE History course changes] - discussion from History Teachers' forum, on the pros and cons of the CIE syllabus.

Geography and History IGCSE Facebook Group

History Home Ed Facebook Group

History Edexcel GCSE for Home Educators

Correspondence courses and online courses

[CM Live Online] - Live classes in historical literature by Oxfordshire home-mum Kat Patrick.  She has a PhD in literary history (specialism is 17th century), a PGCE, UK teaching experience that's UK, and an examiner for CIE.

[Net School] - 2 hours a week online class aimed at Edexcel syllabus

[Little Arthur]  - Topics to suit both CIE and Edexcel syllabuses.

[Oxford Home Learning IGCSE History] for the Edexcel syllabus.

[NEC IGCSE History for Edexcel Syllabus]

[Wolsey Hall] CIE Syllabus : "Students are required to study the Core Content of a specific region/period; our course covers The 20th Century: International Relations since 1919, and a Depth Subject; our course covers China 1930-1990."

https://humanateestutor.com/ Offers tutoring for the AQA syllabus.

https://HomeMadeEducation.com is run by a fellow home educator, with excellent reviews amongst the HE community - offers an IGCSE/GCSE History course that supports a number of different specifications