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Ashcroft Technology Academy

Ashcroft Technology Academy

GCSE History

GCSE History Topics and specification

Paper 1: Crime and Punishment through time, c1000-present



c1000–c1500: Crime and punishment in medieval


Nature and changing definitions of criminal activity 

● Crimes against the person, property and authority, including poaching as an example of ‘social’ crime.

● Changing definitions of crime as a result of the Norman Conquest, including William I’s Forest Laws. ​

The nature of law enforcement and punishment 

● The role of the authorities and local communities in law enforcement in Anglo-Saxon, Norman and later medieval England, including tithings, the hue and cry, and the parish constable.

● The emphasis on deterrence and retribution, the use of fines, corporal and capital punishment. The use and end of the Saxon Wergild. ​


Case study 

● The influence of the Church on crime and punishment in the early thirteenth century: the significance of Sanctuary and Benefit of Clergy; the use of trial by ordeal and reasons for its ending.


c1500–c1700: Crime and punishment in early modern England

Nature and changing definitions of criminal activity 

● Continuity and change in the nature of crimes against the person, property and authority, including heresy and treason.

● New definitions of crime in the sixteenth century: vagabondage and witchcraft. ​


The nature of law enforcement and punishment 

● The role of the authorities and local communities in law enforcement, including town watchmen.

● The continued use of corporal and capital punishment; the introduction of transportation and the start of the Bloody Code. ​


Case studies 

● The Gunpowder Plotters, 1605: their crimes and punishment.

● Key individual: Matthew Hopkins and the witch-hunts of 1645–47. The reasons for their intensity; the punishment of those convicted. 


c1700–c1900: Crime and punishment in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain


Nature and changing definitions of criminal activity 

● Continuity and change in the nature of crimes against the person, property and authority, including highway robbery, poaching and smuggling.

● Changing definitions of crime exemplified in the ending of witchcraft prosecutions and treatment of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.​


The nature of law enforcement and punishment 

● The role of the authorities and local communities in law enforcement, including the work of the Fielding brothers. The development of police forces and the beginning of CID.

● Changing views on the purpose of punishment. The use and ending of transportation, public execution and the Bloody Code. Prison reform, including the influence of John Howard and Elizabeth Fry.​


Case studies 

● Pentonville prison in the mid nineteenth century: reasons for its construction; the strengths and weaknesses of the separate system in operation.

● Key individual: Robert Peel – his contribution to penal reform and to the development of the Metropolitan Police Force.


c1900–present: Crime and punishment in modern Britain


Nature and changing definitions of criminal activity 

● Continuity and change in the nature of crimes against the person, property and authority, including new forms of theft and smuggling.

● Changing definitions of crime, including driving offences, race crimes and drug crimes.​


The nature of law enforcement and punishment 

● The role of the authorities and local communities in law enforcement, including the development of Neighbourhood Watch. Changes within the police force: increasing specialisation, use of science and technology and the move towards prevention.

● The abolition of the death penalty; changes to prisons, including the development of open prisons and specialised treatment of young offenders; the development of non-custodial alternatives to prison. ​


Case studies 

● The treatment of conscientious objectors in the First and Second World Wars.

● The Derek Bentley case: its significance for the abolition of the death penalty. 

Whitechapel, c1870–c1900: crime, policing and the inner city:


The local context of Whitechapel.

The problems of housing and overcrowding. Attempts to improve housing: the Peabody Estate. Provision for the poor in the Whitechapel workhouses. The lack of employment opportunities and level of poverty. Links between the environment and crime: the significance of Whitechapel as an inner city area of poverty, discontent and crime. ​

● The prevalence of lodging houses and pubs creating a fluctuating population without ties to the community. The tensions arising from the settlement of immigrants from Ireland and Eastern Europe. Pressures caused by the increase in Jewish immigration during the 1880s and the tendency towards segregation. The growth of socialism and anarchism in Whitechapel.​



H Division and policing

● The organisation of policing in Whitechapel. The work of H division and the difficulties of policing the slum area of Whitechapel, the rookeries, alleys and courts. Problems caused by alcohol, prostitution, protection rackets, gangs, violent demonstrations and attacks on Jews. The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee.​

 ● Investigative policing in Whitechapel: developments in techniques of detective investigation, including the use of sketches, photographs and interviews; problems caused by the need for cooperation between the Metropolitan Police, the City of London Police and Scotland Yard. Dealing with the crimes of Jack the Ripper and the added problems caused by the media reporting of the ‘Ripper’ murders. ​

● The national and regional context: the working of the Metropolitan Police, the quality of police recruits, the role of the ‘beat constable’. The development of CID, the role of the Home Secretary and of Sir Charles Warren, public attitudes towards the police.​


Knowledge, selection and use of sources for historical enquiries

Knowledge of local sources relevant to the period and issue, e.g. housing and employment records, council records and census returns, Charles Booth’s survey, workhouse records, local police records, coroners’ reports, photographs and London newspapers.

● Knowledge of national sources relevant to the period and issue, e.g. national newspapers, records of crimes and police investigations, Old Bailey records of trials and Punch cartoons.

● Recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of different types of source for specific enquiries.

● Framing of questions relevant to the pursuit of a specific enquiry.

● Selection of appropriate sources for specific investigations.


Paper 2:  Superpower relations and the Cold War, 1941–91



Key topic 1: The origins of the Cold War, 1941–58 


Early tension between East and WestThe legacy of the First World War.

The Grand Alliance. The outcomes of the Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam conferences.

● The ideological differences between the superpowers and the attitudes of Stalin, Truman and Churchill.

● The impact on US-Soviet relations of the development of the atomic bomb, the Long and Novikov telegrams and the creation of Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe​

The development of the Cold War 

● The impact on US-Soviet relations of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, 1947.

● The significance of Cominform (1947), Comecon (1949) and the formation of NATO (1949).

● Berlin: its division into zones. The Berlin Crisis (blockade and airlift) and its impact. The formation of the Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic.​

The Cold War intensifies

● The significance of the arms race and the formation of the Warsaw Pact.

● Events in 1956 leading to the Hungarian Uprising, and Khrushchev’s response.

● The international reaction to the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

Key topic 2: Cold War crises, 1958–70 


Increased tension between East and West

The refugee problem in Berlin, Khrushchev’s Berlin ultimatum (1958), and the summit meetings of 1959–61.

● Soviet relations with Cuba, the Cuban Revolution and the refusal of the USA to recognise Castro’s government. The significance of the Bay of Pigs incident. ● Opposition in Czechoslovakia to Soviet control: the Prague Spring.​


Cold War crises

The construction of the Berlin Wall, 1961.

● The events of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

● The Brezhnev Doctrine and the re-establishment of Soviet control in Czechoslovakia.​

Reaction to crisis

Impact of the construction of the Berlin Wall on US-Soviet relations. Kennedy’s visit to Berlin in 1963.

● The consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis: the ‘hotline’, the Limited Test Ban Treaty 1963; the Outer Space Treaty 1967; and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968.

● International reaction to Soviet measures in Czechoslovakia.

Key topic 3: The end of the Cold War, 1970–91 

Attempts to reduce tension between East and West

Détente in the 1970s, SALT 1, Helsinki, and SALT 2.

● The significance of Reagan and Gorbachev’s changing attitudes.

● Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty 1987. ​


The significance of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter Doctrine and the Olympic boycotts.

● Reagan and the ‘Second Cold War’, the Strategic Defence Initiative​

The collapse of Soviet control of Eastern Europe

The impact of Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ on Eastern Europe: the loosening Soviet grip on Eastern Europe.

● The significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

● The collapse of the Soviet Union and its significance in bringing about the end of the Warsaw Pact.


Option B3: Henry VIII and his ministers, 1509–40 



Key topic 1: Henry VIII and Wolsey, 1509–29 


Henry VIII, Renaissance Prince 

● England in 1509: society and government. The young Henry and his accession to the throne. 

● Henry’s character and views on sovereignty and monarchy. His personal style of government.

● Strengths, weaknesses and aims as monarch. ​


The rise of Wolsey and his policies

 ● Reasons for Wolsey’s rise to power. His personality, roles and wealth.

● Wolsey’s reforms: enclosures, finance and justice. The Eltham Ordinances.

● Reasons for and reactions to the Amicable Grant.  ​

Wolsey’s foreign policy 

● Aims of Wolsey’s foreign policy.

● Successes and failures, including relations with France and the Holy Roman Empire, the Treaty of London (1518), the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’ (1520) and increasing difficulties in the 1520s. 4 ​


Wolsey, Catherine, the succession and annulment 

● Catherine of Aragon and the succession.

● Henry’s reasons for and attempts to gain an annulment. Opposition to the annulment, including the role of Pope Clement VII.

● Reasons for Wolsey’s fall from power, including the failure of the divorce proceedings in London, 1529. The influence of the Boleyns​

Key topic 2: Henry VIII and Cromwell, 1529–40 


Cromwell’s rise to power, 1529–34 

● Personality and early career, including service to Wolsey, election as MP and eventual membership of the Royal Council.

● Handling of the king’s annulment and influence over Henry. Role as the king’s Chief Minister. ​

Cromwell, and the king’s marriages 

● Reasons for the fall of Anne Boleyn, including the role of Cromwell.

● Jane Seymour: marriage, heir and death. The influence of the Seymours. ​

Cromwell and government, 1534–40 

● Reform of government and royal finance.

● The management and use of parliament. ​

The fall of Cromwell

 ● The significance of Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves.

● Reasons for Cromwell’s fall from power in 1540, including the influence of the Duke of Norfolk. 

Key topic 3: The Reformation and its impact, 1529–40 


The break with Rome 

● Henry as ‘Defender of the Faith’. Reasons for Henry’s campaign against the Pope and the Catholic Church, 1529–33.

● The significance of the Act of Succession and the Act of Supremacy 1534. Cromwell’s role in their enforcement, including the use of oaths and treason laws. ​

Opposition to, and impact of, Reformation, 1534–40 

● Elizabeth Barton (the Nun of Kent) and John Fisher.

● The significance of opposition from Thomas More.

● Impact of the Reformation on the English Church, including the work of Thomas Cranmer and the influence of Thomas Cromwell. ​

The dissolution of the monasteries

 ● The role of religious houses in local communities.

● Reasons for the dissolutions, including the findings of Cromwell’s commissions of 1535.

● The impact of the dissolutions. Beneficiaries and losers. ​

The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536 

● Reasons for the uprising.

● Key events of the uprising, including rebellions in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire and the roles of Robert Aske and the Duke of Norfolk.

● Reasons for the failure of the Pilgrimage of Grace and the significance of the uprising.


Paper 3: Weimar and Nazi Germany: 1918-39



Key topic 1: The Weimar Republic 1918–29 


The origins of the Republic, 1918–19 ​

  • The legacy of the First World War.​
  • The abdication of the Kaiser, the armistice and revolution, 1918–19. ​
  • The setting up of the Weimar Republic. The strengths and weaknesses of the new Constitution. ​

The early challenges to the Weimar Republic, 1919–23 

  • Reasons for the early unpopularity of the Republic, including the ‘stab in the back’ theory and the key terms of the Treaty of Versailles. ​
  • Challenges to the Republic from Left and Right: Spartacists, Freikorps, the Kapp Putsch. ​
  • The challenges of 1923: hyperinflation; the reasons for, and effects of, the French occupation of the Ruhr. ​

The recovery of the Republic, 1924–29 

  • Reasons for economic recovery, including the work of Stresemann, the Rentenmark, the Dawes and Young Plans and American loans and investment. ​
  • The impact on domestic policies of Stresemann’s achievements abroad: the Locarno Pact, joining the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Changes in society, 1924–29 

  • Changes in the standard of living, including wages, housing, unemployment insurance. ​
  • Changes in the position of women in work, politics and leisure.​
  • Cultural changes: developments in architecture, art and the cinema. 


Key topic 2: Hitler’s rise to power, 1919–33 

Early development of the Nazi Party, 1920–22 

  • Hitler’s early career: joining the German Workers’ Party and setting up the Nazi Party, 1919–20. ​
  • The early growth and features of the Party. The Twenty-Five Point Programme. The role of the SA. ​

The Munich Putsch and the lean years, 1923–29 

  • The reasons for, events and consequences of the Munich Putsch. ​
  • Reasons for limited support for the Nazi Party, 1924–28. Party reorganisation and Mein Kampf. The Bamberg Conference of 1926. ​

The growth in support for the Nazis, 1929–32 

  • The growth of unemployment – its causes and impact. The failure of successive Weimar governments to deal with unemployment from 1929 to January 1933. The growth of support for the Communist Party. ​
  • Reasons for the growth in support for the Nazi Party, including the appeal of Hitler and the Nazis, the effects of propaganda and the work of the SA.

How Hitler became Chancellor, 1932–33 

  • Political developments in 1932. The roles of Hindenburg, Brüning, von Papen and von Schleicher. ​
  • The part played by Hindenburg and von Papen in Hitler becoming Chancellor in 1933.


Key topic 3: Nazi control and dictatorship, 1933–39 


The creation of a dictatorship, 1933–34 ​

  • The Reichstag Fire. The Enabling Act and the banning of other parties and trade unions. ​
  • The threat from Röhm and the SA, the Night of the Long Knives and the death of von Hindenburg. Hitler becomes Führer, the army and oath of allegiance. ​


The police state ​

  • The role of the Gestapo, the SS, the SD and concentration camps. ​
  • Nazi control of the legal system, judges and law courts. ​
  • Nazi policies towards the Catholic and Protestant Churches, including the Reich Church and the Concordat. ​
  • Controlling and influencing attitudes  ​Goebbels and the Ministry of Propaganda: censorship, Nazi use of media, rallies and sport, including the Berlin Olympics of 1936. ​Nazi control of culture and the arts, including art, architecture, literature and film. ​


Opposition, resistance and conformity 

  • The extent of support for the Nazi regime. ​
  • Opposition from the Churches, including the role of Pastor Niemöller.​
  • Opposition from the young, including the Swing Youth and the Edelweiss Pirates. 

Key topic 4: Life in Nazi Germany, 1933–39 

Nazi policies towards women ​

  • Nazi views on women and the family. ​
  • Nazi policies towards women, including marriage and family, employment and appearance. ​

Nazi policies towards the young 

  • Nazi aims and policies towards the young. The Hitler Youth and the League of German Maidens. ​
  • Nazi control of the young through education, including the curriculum and teachers. ​

Employment and living standards ​

  • Nazi policies to reduce unemployment, including labour service, autobahns, rearmament and invisible unemployment. ​
  • Changes in the standard of living, especially of German workers.​
  • The Labour Front, Strength Through Joy, Beauty of Labour. ​

The persecution of minorities ​

  • Nazi racial beliefs and policies and the treatment of minorities: Slavs, ‘gypsies’, homosexuals and those with disabilities. ​
  • The persecution of the Jews, including the boycott of Jewish shops and businesses (1933), the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht.