What to Expect from the New H2 History Syllabus

Photo copyright by Humanities Hub - Borobodur at dawn.

In November 2017, JC2 students will be the first batch sitting for the newly revamped H2 History GCE A-Level examinations, with testing requirements that differ from those demanded of their seniors before them. Let us take a quick look at what has changed.

The new H2 History syllabus (9752) is divided into two papers:

Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945–2000) This paper examines the attempts of the superpowers and various other historical actors to shape the international order after the Second World War, which resulted in key global developments in the second half of the twentieth century. These developments highlight the historical agency of local and regional actors in the evolution of the global social, political and economic order. Through the themes, students will explore the interaction between superpower rivalry and local agency in influencing the development of the Cold War, as well as how state actors and regional organisations attempted to navigate the changes brought about by global economic developments. Students will also explore how changing power relations and national interests influenced the decision-making processes of the United Nations as an international organisation.

● Theme I: Understanding the Cold War, 1945–1991 (source-based case study)

● Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy, 1945–2000

● Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security

Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence–2000) The thematic-comparative approach in this paper will expose students to a richer and more multifaceted view of independent Southeast Asia. Studying how newly independent states and their people sought to assert their place and identity amidst the forces of change will provide the historical context to understand present-day Southeast Asia. Through the themes, students will evaluate the successes and limitations of Southeast Asian countries’ search for domestic stability as well as the pursuit of economic development after independence. Students will also be able to gain a better understanding of the patterns of interactions within the region and between different groups of actors within the state. The contestation between authoritarianism and the agency of the people will also be studied to understand the dynamic unfolding of events in independent Southeast Asia.

● Theme I: Search for Political Stability

● Theme II: Economic Development after Independence

● Theme III: Regional Conflicts and Cooperation (source-based case study)

Significant changes are not only limited to the inclusion of newer topics but also the omission of others from the previous 9731 syllabus. More crucially, the new syllabus places increased emphasis on candidates' demonstration of understanding historical concepts and skills.

The key difference between the new Source-Based Case Study component from the previous examination syllabus is that it now has two parts. The first part which takes up 10 marks, requires candidates to explain and account for similarities and differences between two sources on a particular issue related to the topic under the Source-Based Case Study. The second part with a weighting of 30 marks, requires candidates to examine how far the allocated sources are in support of/challenge to a particular set hypothesis. On top of this, a total of 6 sources are now given instead of the previously set 5 for the old syllabus. Candidates need to be familiar with the level requirements and the skills required to meet them to secure a score in that mark band. An understanding of the topics examined under the Source-Based Case Study would be crucial in doing well.

Greater emphasis is also now placed on candidates' demonstration of their depth of historical understanding and conceptual ablity. This section requires candidates to answer two essay questions at 30 marks each for each paper. It is no longer an exercise of regurgitation and spamming of content material. A balance needs to be struck between applying historical concepts (for instance cause and effect. significance), utilising the best fitted evidence and constructing cogent and persuasive arguments. It is not a case of quantity but quality.

History is not a subject that merely relies on rote memory. Factual material is important, no doubt about that, but at GCE A-Level, you are expected to go beyond telling a story. It is now about formulating your arguments, judiciously selecting your evidence to substantiate them, and to put them together in a cogent piece of prose.


Worried that you are unable to cope with the new history syllabus? We have a wonderful team of experienced history teachers with a long and successful track record to help you excel in this subject. So call us now at 6264 2236 or 9661 9760 or email us at info@humanitieshub.com.

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