George Watson’s College History Department has a proud record of academic excellence and is committed to opening up the world of the past for pupils. The Department seeks to provide pupils with insights into their own lives and of the society and the wider world in which they live.

History is taught by five experienced historians with expertise in a wide range of historical periods. Amongst the historians, there are SQA markers and setters, certificated IB instructors and published authors.  

Through varied teaching strategies pupils will gain:

  • knowledge and understanding of aspects of Scottish, British, European and World History in a variety of time periods
  • a conceptual understanding of the past and an ability to think critically and independently
  • a range of skills, including explaining historical events, drawing reasoned conclusions and using evidence to form views
  • a range of transferable skills such as analysing and evaluating and literacy which they will use in everyday life

Pupils in S1 and S2 follow a broad curriculum introducing events and themes across Scottish, British, European and World contexts, such as Turning Points in Scotland’s History, International Conflict and Cooperation and the rise of the Nazis. In S3 and S4 pupils study National 5 History, encompassing three taught units, each with a specific skills focus such as explaining the impact of a historical development. Additionally, pupils complete a Value Added Assessment, a piece of extended writing on an aspect of history which interests them. The National 5 Course directly provides progression to Higher History and in due course, to Advanced Higher History. At both Higher and Advanced Higher pupils investigate a range of content and contexts, ranging from the development of democracy in Britain, to Italian Unification and Fascism, to Georgians and Jacobites to the Emergence of Modern Japan.

Additionally, the Department offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme which presents students with a rigorous pre-university course in the study of the past. Students gain an international perspective and understanding of aspects of 20th century world history such as The Origins and Development of Single Party and Authoritarian States, with specific reference to Mao, Hitler and Stalin. Students also examine a wide range of primary and secondary sources relating to Peace-making, peacekeeping and international relations, 1918-1939.

The Department seeks to develop pupils’ understanding through a range of learning and teaching experiences. These include individual and group work, written tasks and source work, role-play and debate, and the use of varied resources including ICT and audio-visuals. Pupils have many opportunities to develop their interests in our subject areas beyond the classroom, through foreign field trips, visits from guest speakers, competitions and a variety of other activities. Through varied learning and teaching strategies, and through employing a wide range of assessment methods, the Department seeks to aid pupils in becoming engaged, historically well-informed citizens.

Subject Information - History