Edexcel offers one GCSE history specification where it previously offered two. Within this new specification the First World War features in Paper 1: Thematic study and historic environment, Option 11: Medicine in Britain, c1250–present. In this option is a linked study of the historic environment entitled The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: injuries, treatment and the trenches. The option as a whole is worth 30% of the total specification.
For the historic environment students are expected to study content which includes the context of the British sector of the Western Front, conditions requiring medical treatment on the Western Front, medical infrastructure from the battlefield to base hospital, experiments and advances in medicine and surgery. These topics are covered on our battlefield tours of the Western Front where students can learn about medicine and surgery in situ. Here they can examine the relationship between specific sites and their relationship to medicine and surgery in the First World War. In addition, serving soldiers are present on our tours to offer a contrast between present day approaches to medicine on the battlefield with that of the Western Front.
We have recently published an historical enquiry designed especially for the teaching of this historic environment option, which focusses on Medicine on the Western Front.
Option 12: Warfare and British society, c1250–present also features aspects of the First World War. It focuses on the Western Front, the Battle of the Somme and reasons for its outcome, the nature of trench warfare and war of attrition, and role of General Haig. All of these topics are covered in depth during our battlefield tours where teachers and students have the opportunity to visit the battlefield sites of the Somme and consider whether or not the battle deserves its reputation as a military disaster.
Links to useful First World War resources available for teachers on this website:
Take a look at some of our substantial history enquiries such as What was life really like for a British soldier on the Western Front? and How and why should we remember the Battle of the Somme today? Each one is accompanied by classroom resources and could be used to cover some of the topics listed in Edexcel’s specification.
Extend your subject knowledge about the First World War by accessing our range of podcasts recorded exclusively by historians from our academic advisory group.
Access our guide to the latest scholarship on the First World War from BBC online: Myths, misrepresentations, and conflicting views of the First World War