How we use Modern History Review magazine to teach A-level History effectively

St Christopher's School

Head of History, St Christopher’s School, Bahrain

“The magazine allows the students to see historical argument as well as historical narrative, and we want them to have both.”

I teach at an international co-educational school. At post-16 we offer the International Baccalaureate and the A-level programme as well. It’s diverse, with students from across the world. 

We have textbooks to give the explanation or description of events, which is essential for History. We find the Hodder magazines have shorter articles, but they are highly focused and bespoke on specific strands of the curriculum. Especially in the case of the A-level magazine (Modern History Review), they’re often written by academic historians. Whilst the actual bona fide work of the academic historian might be four or five hundred pages and not appropriate for pre-university context in its entirety, it gives a lovely, accessible segue into scholarship. 

The magazine allows the students to see historical argument as well as historical narrative, and we want them to have both. We find the magazines give a highly focused and summarised but essentially academic perspective on the events that we are trying to teach. Furthermore, they model how historians write in the real world, so it helps us showcase the architecture of historical argument. That’s helpful for post-16 students where arguing is going to be the key deciding feature of the top level of the mark scheme. 

Saving time in exams is a concern for all pupils, especially if you’re in a heavily written-based subject. For all the modes, mechanisms and means of teaching, in History, it really does come down to you, your pen, your brain, oxygen, a desk, and a piece of paper with no recourse to teachers, books or the Internet, and you’re up against the clock. 

The archive is useful because it includes the entire back catalogue. I go to the keyword search, type in what I need, and it sends something back to me that’s very useful. History doesn’t change, so whether the article was produced yesterday or three hundred million days ago, it doesn’t really matter. It’s intuitive, it’s quick, it’s a time-saver. I like the way you can search for what you need, and because it’s been publishing for twenty or thirty years there’s going to be something, unless you’re looking for something very niche.

The magazines come into their own at A-level, you can go wider and deeper because the syllabus lays the platform for that. In terms of the boxes, where it has further interpretations or extracts from the time, that becomes a useful tool to aid learning or offer a different perspective. It’s just something that aids our students’ learning and give them something to bite into and chew on that lays the platform for argument, which for history teachers is all-important.

At the start of Year 12, the magazine is used for first-time learning; you’re using it to introduce or expose students to a topic, whereas at the end of Year 13, it's more used as consolidation or refining arguments and looking at interpretations. 

What resources does this History Teacher use?

Modern History Review Magazine (A-level)
Modern History Review Archive
Hindsight Magazine (GCSE)
Hindsight Archive