History – Early Modern

Return to all courses
History - Early Modern covers a period of over 200 years, from the fifteenth century to the late seventeenth century.

Exam Board


Entry Requirements

GCSE grade 6 in either English Language, English Literature or History.


  • 80% Exams
  • 20% Coursework
About this course FAQs An introduction to History - early modern Pathways Information

What is Early Modern History?

The Early Modern History course covers a period of over 200 years, from the 15th century to the late 17th century. It contains a fascinating blend of political, religious and social history and includes the turbulence of civil war in Britain, Spain’s emergence as a great power and the craze for witch hunting which lasted for most of the Early Modern period.


What will I study?

The Early Modern History course is divided into four units, the first covers The Stuarts from 1603–1660. Unit two delves into the history of Spain from 1469–1556. Unit three explores the fascinating witch craze and popular culture in the 16th and 17th centuries. The final unit is an independent research essay from a selection of titles offered to you.

The British Unit for the Early Modern History course looks at Stuart England from the accession of James I in 1603, through the reign of Charles I, the Civil War, and the Interregnum from 1649-1660. This is a colourful and interesting period, full of larger-than-life characters and important events and debates. The Stuart monarchs are great personalities; James I, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, who was a general, politician, revolutionary, and puritan who was offered the crown and refused it.

During year 13, students study Spain 1474-1556. This unit looks at the government of Spain and the problem faced by Isabella and Ferdinand. We also look at the development of the Spanish empire and the problems this creates for the government and economy of Spain during the rule of Charles I of Spain. This unit allows students to make comparisons to the religious situation in England. It also supported the witchcraze unit as students will be able to look at the impact of the inquisition on the low levels of witch hunts in Spain. This unit is assessed through 10 and 20 mark essay-type subjects which provides further consolidation of AO1 skills.

The thematic study for Early Modern History looks at the European Witch Craze and Popular Culture in 15th and 16th centuries. The ideas of witches and witchcraft are almost as old as society itself and yet in this period, witch-hunting became particularly prevalent. We’ll look at the reasons why this was the case, focussing on examples of witch crazes from Britain, Germany and America. This unit connects to both the British history unit and the German Reformation units and encourages you to develop your synoptic thinking.

During the fourth unit, you will have the opportunity to carry out independent research to produce an essay of between 3,000 and 4,000 words. You can select a question from a range of options drawn from the Early Modern period.



Unit One: British History 1603-1660 this will be assessed by a written examination of one hour and thirty minutes. There will be one source question and one essay question to answer. This is 25% of the A level.

Unit Two: Spain 1469-1556 this will be assessed by a written examination of one hour there will be two essay question on this paper. This is 15% of the A level.

Unit Three: Popular Culture and the Witch Crazes of the 16th and 17th centuries this will be assessed by a written examination of two hours and 30 minutes. There will be an interpretation question and two thematic questions to answer. This is 40% of the A level.

Unit Four: Coursework is an essay based on the content from the British unit. This will assess the skills that you have already developed in the other units. Coursework will be submitted in year 13. This is 20% of the A level.


Trips, visits and enrichments:

  • Students have visited the Commandery Museum in Worcester to find out more about the English Civil War.
  • Overseas trips to Boston and Salem Massachusetts; Washington and Philadelphia and Russia have taken place in recent years.
  • There is a history extension class for those students considering an application for university to study history.


What can it lead to?

History is a course highly regarded by universities and is a recognised route into a wide range of careers. History develops your ability to weigh up information, evidence and ideas, critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your own ideas and those of others, and then express and develop those opinions in writing and in discussion. As a preparation for the professions, especially law, the civil service, politics, journalism and the media, History is highly regarded.


Do I need to have studied History at GCSE to do A level history?
No, there is no requirement to have done GCSE History. If you have not studied History at GCSE, you will need to achieve a Grade 6 in either English Language or English Literature instead.
Can I do both Early Modern and Modern History?
No, they are the same A level so you can only do one.

Return to all courses

Apply for a place

If you wish to apply for a place at King Ed’s for September 2024, use this link to access our application portal. We look forward to hearing from you.

Apply now

Download Our Prospectus

Please click the button below to download a copy of our prospectus.