“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana)


We believe that History, far from being a dry and academic absorption with the Past, is the prerequisite of an understanding of the Present. Norwich School pupils are equipped with knowledge about important individuals, events and developments so that they become historically literate citizens.

The History Department aims to endow pupils with a lifelong enthusiasm for learning about the Past. In their first three years, they study a broad outline of English and European history from 1066 to 1918. Should they choose to continue with the subject at GCSE, our focus turns to the history of the 20th Century.

The study of History requires a willingness to read widely, to engage in the critical assessment of evidence and to develop a sympathetic approach to a whole range of recurrent human problems.

The subject is very popular at A-Level and every year the Department enables many pupils to read History at leading universities.

4th Form

Lower 4 pupils study the Middle Ages. We begin with the Battle of Hastings and the establishment of Norman rule in England, before moving on to consider medieval Christianity and the turbulent relationship between Church and State.

Further topics include the reign of King John, the development of Parliament, the Black Death and the Peasants’ Revolt. We conclude with a study of the Crusades.

In Upper 4, pupils study the Early Modern period. We begin with a study of the Italian Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution, before considering the voyages of discovery and the conquest of the Aztec Empire.

We explore the English Reformation under the Tudors and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, then conclude with a study of the Stuarts and the Civil Wars.

5th Form

In Lower 5, pupils study the birth of the modern world. In examining The Age of Revolution we focus on the French Revolution and Britain during the Industrial Revolution. Our final topic is the First World War during which pupils have an opportunity to visit the battlefields of Ypres and the Somme.

In Middle 5 and Upper 5 we follow the Cambridge IGCSE specification. Pupils study International Relations from 1918 to 2000 which includes the legacy of the First World War, the collapse of peace by 1939, the Cold War and recent developments in the Middle East.

For our ‘depth study’ we focus on Germany from 1918-1945: the Weimar Republic, the rise of Hitler and the catastrophe of Nazi rule.

There are two written exams at the end of the course and pupils also complete one coursework essay on an aspect of the depth study.


6th Form

We follow the AQA specification at A-level. Pupils take two examined components:

  1. A breadth paper on an aspect of British history (either Tudor England 1485-1603 or Stuart Britain 1603-1702)
  2. A depth paper on an aspect of modern European history (either Russia 1917-1953 or Italy 1900-1945)

In addition, pupils complete one coursework essay of about 3000 words on one of two topics:

  1. The Development of Civil Rights for African Americans in the USA, 1865-1970
  2. The Witch Craze in Early Modern Europe

The Russell Group of leading universities regards History as a ‘facilitating subject’, keeping options open and leading to a very wide variety of degree courses.

A large number of pupils choose to study History at undergraduate level and the Department has helped many pupils to pursue the subject at Oxford, Cambridge and other leading universities.