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If you decide to study History in the Group 3 component of the International Baccalaureate on Individuals and Societies the syllabus offered for both Standard and Higher Level provides an opportunity to study in greater depth aspects introduced for GCSE Modern World History. The main focus is on 20th century American and World History. Those students who are studying History to Standard Level complete Units 1 to 3 over three lessons in the two year period of the course while those studying to Higher Level complete Unit 4 in addition to the Standard Level units. The teaching for these takes place in the extra two lessons per week devoted to the subject over a two year period.

Unit 1 at Standard Level is examined by a 1 hour examination involving analysis and evaluation of a range of source materials. Units 2 and 3 at Standard Level are examined by a paper of 1 hour 30 minutes in length in which students have to write one essay on the Origins and Development of Authoritarian and Single Party States and one essay on the Nature of the Cold War. For Unit 4 on Aspects of the History of the Americas at Higher Level students have to complete an examination paper of 2 hours 30 minutes duration in which they have to answer three essays from a choice of 12 topics relating to key aspects of the period between 1800 and 2000.Over the course of their two years of study they will have studied four topics and on the question paper there will be two questions on each topic.

The Standard and Higher Level options offered by the History and Politics Department are as follows: 

Standard Level

Rights and Protest: Civil Rights in the USA and Apartheid in South Africa:

  • The Nature of Discrimination in the United States
  • Protests and Action in the United States 1954 to 1965
  • The Nature of Discrimination in South Africa
  • Protests and Action in South Africa 1948 to 1964

Origins and Development of Authoritarian and Single Party States:

  • Germany under Hitler 1933 to 1945
  • China under Mao Zedong 1949 to 1976
  • Cuba under Castro 1959 to 2008

The Nature of the Cold War:

  • Origins of the Cold War 1941 to 1947
  • Superpower Relations 1947 to 1979
  • The End of the Cold War 1979 to 1991


Higher Level

Political Developments in the United States (1945 to 1980) and Canada (1945 to 1982):

  • Domestic Policies of Truman and Eisenhower
  • Kennedy and New Frontier and Johnson and Great Society
  • Domestic Policies of Nixon and Ford
  • Domestic Policies of Canada 1945 to 1982
  • Causes and Effects of the Quiet Revolution in Canada

The Cold War and the Americas 1945 to 1981:

  • Truman and the Policy of Containment
  • The Impact of the Korean War on the United States
  • The Cold War under Eisenhower and Foster Dulles
  • The Involvement of the United States in Vietnam
  • The Foreign Policies from Kennedy to Carter
  • The Cold War in Canada

Civil Rights and Social Movements in the Americas post 1945:

  • The Indigenous Peoples and Civil Rights in the Americas
  • African-Americans and the Civil Rights Movement
  • The Role of Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement
  • The Feminist Movement in the Americas
  • The Hispanic Movement in the United States
  • Youth Culture and the Protests of the 1960s and 1970s


Historical Investigation

In addition to the examination papers for Units 1 to 4 students whether they are studying History for Standard Level or Higher Level have to complete a 1,500 to 2,000 word Historical Investigation on a topic related to their studies with reference being made to a range of historical sources. In deciding on a topic for the Historical Investigation students need to focus upon historical controversies which have arisen and where there is a clear debate between differing historians with regard to an aspect of the past. This is essential as it will enable them to develop their own original arguments in terms of the issue under consideration.

Course Requirements

The entry requirements for the History component of the International Baccalaureate are a Grade 6 in GCSE History. Over the duration of the two year course students will be expected to work independently and for this reason there is a need for them to be organised and motivated. The ability to think clearly, analyse information and argue in a coherent manner are essential prerequisites to be successful in History. Studying History provides students with the confidence to articulate their views. Such skills are highly valued by a number of employers. Students who have studied History in recent years have embarked on careers in the legal profession, journalism, business and management.