Hugh – Higher Level
Ok first things first, document based question, as anticipated we had the Indian independence case study thrown at us. Questions 1-3 contained fairly basic questions on the accompanying documents, which consisted of an extract from a Cabinet Mission report on the situation in India and a Daily Mail cartoon. The questions tested students ability to comprehend, compare and critically analyse the two documents, with the 40 mark (out of 100 for the section overall) question asking about the difficulties associated with British withdrawal from India. Overall this section was, as usual, very student friendly.
The second Irish topic, Movements for Political and Social Reform, 1870-1914 was generally well received, with questions on the Suffrage movement, the strengths and weaknesses of Parnell as a leader, an interesting two part question on the Ulster Question and the development of Unionism, and a question on the contributions of the GAA, the Gaelic League and the Anglo-Irish Literary Revival to Irish cultural revival. I had a go at the Ulster Question/Unionism 1870-1914, which was unusual in that it asked for an explanation of a concept-the Ulster Question in conjunction with an element. This type of question is rare but regardless shows that the key political concepts on the course can’t be ignored.
The pursuit of sovereignty and the impact of partition section was absolutely off the walls, opening with a question on the impact the threat and use of physical force had on Ireland, this question was unusual in its format and had a very broad scope, including the formation of the Ulster Volunteers, the formation of the Irish Volunteers, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil war. All of which would usually form a question in their own right! I tackled the most straight forward question there on the significance of the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, though I was tempted by the question on the security policy of the Northern government 1920-1945 which could be combined with economic policy. Anglo Irish relations 1923-1949 was also asked.
For the Dictatorship and Democracy section I did the question on the extent to which Hitler’s foreign policy 1933-1939 was responsible for the outbreak of the Second World War. There were also some straight-forward questions on Stalin’s rule in Russia, the challenges facing France 1920-1945 and a slightly unexpected one on Anti-semitism and the Holocaust, 1920-1945 something most students wouldn’t have had an awful lot of material on.
Overall this was a very mixed paper, with some straight-forward questions coupled with some surprises. As in all History exams timing was very difficult. The amount of material expected from candidates in such a short space of time is a bit unreasonable, an extra ten minutes on this exam would have been very welcome!
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