Our new draft specification for Edexcel GCSE History

On 7 April 2015, we published our new, draft specification for Edexcel History GCSE, to be taught in schools from September 2016.

Pearson will be offering a single, unified specification, designed to offer maximum topic choice and flexibility for teachers across three exam papers.

The new course will include topics that teachers will know and recognise to choose from, such as ‘Russia and the Soviet Union (1917-41)’, ‘Weimar and Nazi Germany (1918-39) and ‘The American West, c1835-c1895’, as well as new topics, including:

  • Spain and the ‘New World’ (1490-1555)
  • British America: Empire and Revolution (1713-83)
  • Conflict in the Middle East (1945-95)
  • The reigns of King Richard I and King John (1189-1216).

The new requirement for a study of the ‘historic environment’ has been embedded within the thematic studies paper, so teachers can choose from:

  • Victorian London’s East End, under ‘Whitechapel: crime and policing (1870-1900)’ in the Crime and Punishment through time thematic study
  • Conditions in which the British wounded were cared for on the Western Front, under ‘The British sector of the Western Front: surgery and treatment (1914-18)’ in the Medicine through time thematic study
  • Life in London during the Blitz, under ‘London and the Second World War (1939-45)’ in the Warfare through time thematic study.

We are enormously grateful to the many teachers and stakeholders from the wider history community who have helped us to put together this new qualification. We believe that this new course will offer teachers flexibility with new and engaging topics to choose from, as well as the most popular ones from our previous GCSE History courses.

Our priority now is to provide schools with the most up to date information, resources and support on the reforms, to ensure that they and their students are prepared for these changes.

Mark Anderson, Managing Director of Pearson UK

All new GCSE History specifications will have to include the following, in line with the criteria set by the DfE:

  • A thematic study covering a long period of history that spans medieval, early modern and modern history
  • A period study covering at least 50 years
  • A British depth study and a non-British depth study from different eras (Modern, Early Modern and Medieval)
  • A study of the historic environment

Students will be required to study at least 40% British history.
Pearson's specifcation has been developed following careful consultation with teachers, education and subject experts, including representatives from the Royal Historical Society, the Historical Association and the Schools History Project. It has also formed part of Pearson’s World Class Qualification programme, benchmarking the qualification with those of the highest-performing jurisdictions in the world.

It has been put together according to the criteria published by the Department for Education and was submitted to Ofqual on Thursday 2 April for accreditation.