History at Wellington

The study of history is extremely important in contemporary society. It spans all cultures, eras, seasons and environments and is an immovable factor that can be called upon for knowledge and insight. History is a subject which gives pupils skills which are attractive to employers such as learning how to work independently or with others; researching, analysing and communicating findings to others and defending and supporting opinions against criticism. A degree in History can lead to almost any career but some of the most common include teaching, research, archiving and heritage, politics, media, business, commerce and law.

Wellington School has a thriving History Department offering a variety of engaging learning experiences including student conferences, Easter revision schools, supported study sessions and trips. History is studied by all pupils from Primary 7 to S2. Beyond that, the department offers National 4 and 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses.


S1 and S2

In S1 History, pupils cover an introductory unit on history skills, assessing their ability to understand chronology, dealing with units of time, examining sources and constructing timelines. They look at societal change during the age of discovery from the Aztecs to Marco Polo and the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Pupils also study themes involving the concepts of ‘people in conflict’ during the 18th century French Revolution. This involves oral discussion, primary historical documents, artwork, drama and the use of ICT.

In S2, topics link the Scottish, British and World history of the period of 1707-1918. Pupils study the impact of the Jacobite Rebellions on Scotland and Scottish political and cultural history in the 18th to 19th century. For the British unit, pupils study the Industrial Revolution and the effects of the living and working conditions on the people living in the industrial towns in the nineteenth century. In the World unit pupils consider the events of the First World War, with particular reference to the outbreak of the war and the impact it had on the soldiers fighting at the Front.


National 4 and National 5

The course aims to develop in pupils a way of thinking about the past by examining the main ideas and themes in defined periods of history. This is achieved through the study of evidence provided by books, websites, DVDs, documents, maps, museum collections, photographs, ICT and outside visits, reinforced by factual knowledge.

Pupils studying the National courses cover three units: Scottish History – Mary Queen of Scots and the Reformation (1542 – 1587); British History – The Atlantic Slave Trade (1770 – 1807); European/World History – Red Flag: Lenin and the Russian Revolution (1894-1924).

Pupils are assessed on two elements: Knowledge and Understanding (60%) and Source Skills (40%). Throughout the National 5 course pupils undertake regular topic based assessments including three internal units which must be passed. External Assessment comprises an examination (75%) and an assignment worth 25% of the total mark. The assignments involve an exploration of primary sources, researched in class and written up under exam conditions. The course assessment for National 4 requires a pass in each of the three internal units and an assignment but there is no external examination at this level.



The Higher course consists of 3 units: Britain, 1851-1951; The Growth of Nationalism in Germany, 1815-1939; The Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286-1328.

Each unit is internally assessed via end of unit assessments. External assessment consists of an assignment (worth a third of the total grade) and an examination paper. Pupils must pass the three Unit Assessments and the external exam to gain an award for the course.


Advanced Higher

The Advanced Higher course focuses on the topic Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of the Second World War, 1918-1939. Pupils examine the changing nature of political authority and the reasons for and consequences of this change, focusing on the themes of ideology, authority and revolution.

Areas within the topic include:

  • The creation of the Weimar Republic from the November Revolution to economic crisis in 1923.
  • Weimar’s Golden Years incorporating the Stresemann era in foreign affairs.
  • The collapse of Weimar considering economic depression, the rise of Nazism and Hitler and the Nazi takeover of power.
  • The transformation of post – Weimar society including Nazi economic, social and racial policies and the impact of foreign policy.

There are 2 Unit assessments: Historical Study and Historical Research as well as a single examination paper which includes an essay section and a source handling section. Advanced Higher candidates are also required to produce folio and project work comprising a dissertation on a topic of the pupil’s choice.

Curricular Activities and Extracurricular Clubs

S6 History pupils regularly mentor younger pupils from Primary 7 to S2 in the first two school terms.

S1 and S2

  • S1 Cross Curricular Trip with Latin to Hadrian’s wall and the Lanercost Priory
  • S2 Trip to The National War Museum (Hands on History: Trench Warfare Workshop)
  • S2 Trip to Doune Castle

S3 and S4

  • S3 Trip to Holyrood Palace and the Mary Queen of Scots Exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland
  • S3 trip to Craigmillar Castle
  • S4 joint trip to London to the Museum of Docklands and Westminster Parliament

Advanced Higher and Higher

  • Trips to any current relevant historical films at the cinema e.g The Suffragette
  • Revision conferences e.g. Advanced Higher History Hub at Caledonian University, Higher Revision Conference at Hampden

Cross Curricular and Co-operative Learning Activities

S1 Cross Curricular Project with French (June)

Pupils make cross curricular links with French via reading comprehension on the French Revolution. They then chose an event from the topic and performed a news broadcast speaking both English and French in their role play exercise.

S1-S2 Cross Curricular Trip with Latin

A trip to Hadrian’s wall also coincides with a visit to the Lanercost Priory to give pupils an insight into the writers of medieval chronicles. This is particularly relevant to their studies of the Scottish Wars of Independence and develops their understanding of historical timelines, which is part of the S1 course.

S3/S4 Group Investigations

Pupils undertake a mock political campaign by creating their own abolitionist group and media campaign. They produce posters, badges, slogans and film their own abolitionist speech dressed as a 19th century politician like William Wilberforce. Pupils also research historical opinion on the investigation of Who killed Lord Darnley? and they present their own findings and verdicts on the suspects.