History – Early Modern

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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
An introduction to History - early modern Presentation About this course 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?

There are four different units included is Early Modern History.

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.

The non-British Unit focuses on one of the most significant events of the Early Modern period – the German Reformation which started as a result of the work of Martin Luther and spread across the Holy Roman Empire and further afield, causing lasting religious, social and political changes. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the most powerful ruler of the Early Modern world, who met Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1519 struggled to stop the spread of the new version of Christianity because of his commitments across Europe and beyond and ultimately, the split in European Christianity would become permanent.

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 forth 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.

Trips, visits and enrichments:

  • Students attend lectures by academic historians and have visited the Commandery Museum in Worcester to find out more about the English Civil War
  • Visits to the People’s History Museum in Manchester
  • Overseas visits to St Petersburg and Moscow have taken place in previous years
  • Trips to the USA for the Salem witch trials


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.

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