I took OCR’s History A2 paper “Rebellion and disorder under the Tudors, 1485-1603” paper last year. Like all A2 synoptic papers, this one requires students to master a pretty large amount of information. And the syllabus is better at piling on incidental detail than it is on explaining how best to sort out the vital stuff from everything else.
When I came to revise, I found I had two folders of material bulging with class notes and photocopied articles, and I knew that I had to reduce all that information to a more manageable size.
I boiled down all the material I had into a manageable set of revision notes. I did a summary of each of the rebellions we had to know something about, and tried to work out a system of classifying them in a useful way. I also did some background research on the Tudor state and the way that it kept order, so that I could answer questions about how to government controlled rebellion and disorder.
Finally, I wrote up lists of past paper questions and tried to work out how these could be broken down by type.
It’s inevitable that notes like this simplify some complex events which had multiple interlocking outcomes. And of course I know that rebellions don’t really have “primary causes and secondary causes” that break down neatly that way, or even often specific named leaders.
However, OCR A level requires students to write as though they do. And since I managed an A* by using my notes, I hope that this means that they ought to be useful to other people in the same sort of position I was in. I looked online when I started revising and found a couple of useful sites that more or less mirror what I’m going to do here (like this one), but in less detail. So I think that I’m providing something that isn’t available anywhere else.
These are just notes. They’ll work best if you have some sort of background knowledge to put everything in context. And I can’t promise to have enough time to make them look too pretty with illustrations or anything like that. Still, I hope they help. You can let me have feedback in the comments.
F.K.N., 22 November 2014