How to research and write your coursework

"Any event, once it has occured, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian."

Lee Simonson

Summer Year 12

Begin reading around the topic area that interests you.  Perhaps you already have a famous debate in mind, or perhaps you are just generally interested in a period or country.  I have access to the History Today archive, so if you want a few articles to get some overview, tell me what you're looking for and I'll check what's available.

As you begin to firm up your area of study, you should start finding books.  We can support you in that hunt - August is a great time to read a few key interpretations at relative leisure.

For your 4000 word essay, you need a question that is a debate - "Assess the view that X is the main reason for Y".  or " Is X true?" or "Has the significance of X been overestimated?" . There are lots of previous questions in the OCR booklet downloadable from this page or OCR's website.

You need about 15 sources - a mixture of Primary Sources that you will analyse for AO2, and Interpretations that you will compare, contrast and evaluate for AO3.  Several of these should be BOOKS - some website articles are fine to include in your list of references, but you are marked partly on your "range" of sources, so don't rely on the internet entirely.  This is another good reason to start early - you have time to order from libraries.

Download the OCR guidance document here.

Download the mark scheme here.

Autumn Year 13

We strongly encourage you to create a quotations and interpretations grid, once your reading gets underway in earnest - it seems like a terrible bother at the time, but it really helps you to put your reading into themes and interpretive camps.  Create a table in WORD or EXCEL, with columns for Author, Title including publisher and year of publication, Quotation, Page number and Theme/Interpretation.  You can clarify your organisation with colour-coding - it makes composing your essay in a coherent, articulate manner easier, whilst also giving you a huge shortcut when putting in the footnotes and forming the bibliography/reference list. 

Read this student example- it is useful for seeing how to arrange your work, but also how the student has set about the tasks of both organising historical interpretations and creating an original argument. In addition, it is important to analyse Primary Sources within their place in your overall argument.