For a great many people, history is a set of facts, a collection of events, a series of things that happened, one after another, in the past. In fact, history is far more than these things– it is a way of thinking about and seeing the world. Studying History will pass on to you many skills that will be useful at college/university, in the workplace, and later in life.  

National 4/5

Course Outline

In the National course, there are three key areas of focus: 

The Scottish Wars of Independence 

2014 marked the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and referendum on Scottish independence.  So, to find out where it all started, we look at Scotland’s Wars of Independence (1286-1328).  Find out all about William Wallace – was he really like the legend celebrated in “Braveheart”?  Examine the rise to power and the achievements of Scotland’s most famous King – Robert Bruce.  You will also learnt what really happened at Bannockburn in 1314 and how the Scots finally achieved independence from England in 1328.

The Atlantic Slave Trade (1700-1807) 

This topic will examine Britain and Scotland’s role in the notorious slave trade of the 18th century.  With lots of different movies being made about slavery, you will learn the extent of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade.  Find out where the slaves came from, what it was like to be a slave and what were slaves used for.  What part did Scotland play in this trade?  You will also learn about the Abolition movement.  This is a fascinating and contemporary topic which still causes much debate and controversy today. 

Russia, The Red Flag: Russia and Revolution 1881-1921 

Historically, a major power in World History is the country we now refer to as the Russian Federation.  The topic starts in 1881 with an examination of Imperial Russia under the Tsars.  You will learn about the era of Tsar Nicholas II and the events that led to two revolutions against him and his family.  The course will also examine the strange character of Grigory Rasputin and the events that led to the mysterious disappearance of the Russian Royal Family in 1918.  The course will also chart the rise of Lenin and the establishment of communist system in Russia in following the Civil War. 


National 5 History: There is a formal exam at the end of this course which will take place in one sitting. The time allocation is 2 hours and 20 minutes. Pupils will be assessed on all three units covered and the exam is marked out of 80.  ​

There is no external exam for National 4, but internally marked assessments and ‘Added Value’ Assignment to complete.​

There is also an externally assessed ‘Added Value’ Assignment to complete at National 5 and this is worth 20 marks – 20% of the overall grade.​ Completion of this project is undertaken between January and March. This is to be submitted to the SQA by Easter.​


Course outline

The Higher History course compromises three units, across two Papers. These are:

Paper 1: British History from 1850 to 1950

This topic examines what it was like to live in Britain 100 years ago. It will look at life of the working people of Britain. You will learn about the key changes that took place in Britain during this period. The quest for greater democracy and the establishment of a fully democratic system will be assessed. Additionally, you will develop knowledge of the infamous Suffragette campaign spearheaded by Emmeline Pankhurst. We will also evaluate the success of the Liberal Social Reforms 1906-1914. Finally, we will assess the impact of the Second World War and the Labour Reforms initiated by Clement Atlee’s government 1945-1951.

Paper 1: Germany 1815 to 1939

Find out about the events that led to the creation of the German Reich in 1871, before assessing the failure of the Weimar Republic and the factors which led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism. The topic will then examine, in detail, life in Hitler’s Germany from 1933 and how the Nazis were able to maintain power through the creation of the Totalitarian state. This topic will also examine the steps taken by Hitler 1933-1939 which led Europe to the brink of the Second World War, following Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939. 

Paper 2: Migration and Empire 1839 – 1939

Pupils will learn about the impact Irish immigration had on existing tensions between Catholic Irish and a predominantly Protestant Scottish population. We also learn the impact made by Italians, Lithuanians and Jews. Push and pull factors for Scottish emigration are also analysed as we learn why so many left Scotland for Empire countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India. We will focus on the positive impact made by famous Scots, such as Sandford Fleming, in their new homelands. Of course, the negative impact is also explored, with Scots involved in atrocities with indigenous cultures like Māori and Aboriginal people in Australasia.


There is a formal exam at the end of this course which will take place in over two sittings on the same day. The time allocation is 1 hour and 30 minutes for Paper 1 and 1 hour and 30 minutes for Paper 2. Paper 1 is essay based, and Paper 2 focusses on source-handling skills. Paper 1 accounts for 44 marks and Paper 2 is marked out of 36.​

At Higher, there is an externally assessed ‘Added Value’ Assignment to complete. Worth 30 marks, this is 27% of the overall grade. This is to be submitted to the SQA prior to Easter.​

Advanced Higher

Course Outline

USA: ‘A House Divided’, 1850–1865 – The Advanced Higher History course is a detailed study of American history, examining life before, during, and after the American Civil War.


There is a formal exam at the end of this course which will take place in one sitting on the same day. The time allocation is 3 hours. There are 2 parts to this exam –Part 1 is essay based, and Part  2 focusses on source-handling skills. The exam paper is marked out of 90 (the essays are worth 50 marks and the sources are worth 40 marks).​

​The final AH History mark is also based on a Dissertation (known as the “Project”). Students select a topic or issue from the course content (there is an approved list provided by the SQA). The dissertation is worth 50 marks making it 35% of the final mark. The dissertation is completed in a mix of class time and home time by students with final copy submitted to the class teacher in Mid- March for submission to the SQA.​

Study Support (all levels)

To develop study and skills and enhance their chances of success, pupils should​

  • Undertake regular revision​
  • Take pride in personal organisation​
  • Act on teacher feedback​
  • Engage with Teams and Satchel One​
  • Attend study classes ​
  • Engage with SQA past papers and marking instructions​

Useful study websites

Altra Curriculum Explorer (Past Papers) https://curriculumexplorer.altra.space/

BBC Bitesize – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize