30+ A-Level History NEA Ideas

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When I took A-Level History, doing the NEA was my favourite part. Having so much more independence and control over my own work was exciting and much more engaging than just being in lessons or doing exams. However, it was also pretty daunting.

All kinds of A-Level coursework give you so much more academic freedom and independence than you’d previously experienced, which can make it a bit stressful to have all this responsibility. The first place this can come into play is right at the start when you have to choose your essay question. In this article, we’ll try to make this part a little bit less stressful by giving you some ideas for what you could do.

Continue reading to getter a better understanding of the A-Level History NEA as a whole and to see some ideas for your essay question. This article will take you through these ideas by going through some of the main topic areas that you could focus on.

What is an A-Level History NEA?

The term NEA stands for non-exam assessment, which is relatively the same as coursework. For A-Level History, this piece of coursework is in the form of an extended essay, which may even be referred to as an “investigation” on a specific area of history that has different historical interpretations.

Due to this, students will need to research into different historical interpretations of their specific topic as well as use primary sources and factual evidence/ data to evaluate the different historical interpretations.

The specific requirements for this NEA will depend on the exam board, which is especially the case when it comes to the word count, which can vary quite a lot. For example, for students using the Pearson Edexcel exam board, the word count is between 3,000 and 4,000 words, whereas for the AQA exam board, there is a word limit between 3,500 and 4,500 words.

Unlike these exam boards that have a set maximum word count, the OCR exam board only has a recommendation of 3,000- 4,000 words, although there is no actual set limit.

Despite being quite a lot of work, the A-Level History NEA will generally be a fair low proportion of the A-Level in comparison to other factors. Typically, this will be worth 20% of the whole A-Level History qualification.

You can learn more about this by checking out the specifications of A-Level History courses by clicking on the links with the respective exam board: AQA (linked here and here) Pearson Edexcel, OCR, WJEC, CCEA.

How to choose an A-Level History NEA idea

Choosing an A-Level History NEA idea can come in a few different ways and may not even be your choice as a student. How this all works will depend on your sixth form or college.

The first most obvious option is that your sixth form/ college lets you choose the topic and question that you want to focus on. Alternatively, your sixth form or college may give you an approved topics list but allow you to submit your own topic question and consider options outside of this list.

The strictest form is where your sixth form or college chooses the topic(s) that you can do and may even give you pre-approved question ideas. You can learn more about these by checking out this guide by OCR.

As choosing your own idea and topic from scratch is by far the hardest, we’ll see primarily focusing on that in this article. When choosing your own idea, the first thing you should think about is which historical period you want to focus on.

There are obviously a wide range you can choose from, although exam boards tend to have some restrictions in this aspect too. First of all, you won’t be able to do the same topic as whichever piece of history you studied for your depth study. Other restrictions will vary by exam board, so it’s best to ask your teachers or to look directly at your exam board’s coursework information.

After you pick your main topic, you need to narrow it down to a specific historical debate within this topic. From here, you can shape it into an extended essay question that allows you to have a clear line of argument and be evaluative and analytical. To do this, you might want to use vocabulary such as “the most/ least important/ significant/ etc.”.

What makes a good A-Level History NEA idea?

To make sure you have a good A-Level History NEA idea, you need to make sure that it is something you can write an entire extended essay on. Remember the NEA will require students to do over 3000 words and write a full answer with several sections and a clear line of argument and judgement, depending on the style of your essay question.

To be able to do this, you need to make sure you have enough background information about this specific subsection of your topic area and that there are lots of interpretations and primary sources available.

Another step to making sure that you have a good topic and question title is to make sure that it is has the right level of detail. This is as you need to make sure the focus is very specific so it can be in-depth and analytical but also broad enough to give you a full answer and enough to write about.

A-Level History NEA ideas for 2024

Now that we’ve looked at the criteria for choosing a topic and what makes a good one, we can properly dive into some examples. However, as previously mentioned, an NEA idea needs to be focused on a specific area of history. Due to this, in this article, we’ll be looking at some ideas based on specific historical areas.

These historical areas have been chosen due to being commonly studied in A-Level History courses. You can learn more about this from this page of the Cambridge Assessment website as well as from the component options mentioned in each exam board’s specification, as linked above.

The ideas below are sourced from a mixture of exam board suggestions and information provided to me when I was doing the NEA myself. Exam board suggestions come from pages of the Pearson Edexcel website, OCR website, the WJEC website and the AQA website all linked respectively.

A-Level History NEA ideas for Russian dictatorship

When looking at the history of dictatorships in Russia, we’re generally referring to the period from 1855 to 1991/2. In this period of history, there were several different kinds of leaders of Russia, all of which can be focused on for your NEA. These types of leaders are the Tsar rulers, the Provisional Government and the communist leaders.

While you may want to look at the leaders and their regimes, you could also look at society at the time

Some ideas for Russia and its rulers are as follows.

  1. In the context of the years 1861 to 1964, to what extent was the Russian Revolution of 1917 caused by the war?
  2. How far do you agree with the view that Peter the Great was largely unsuccessful in his attempts to modernise Russia?
  3. How far do you agree with the view that Alexander II was largely successful in his attempts to modernise Russia in the period after 1855?
  4. How far do you agree with the view that Stalin’s main aim in the period 1924–1939 was to carry out the changes begun by Lenin?
  5. ‘The lives of the Russian peasants were transformed for the better in the years between 1928 and 1964.’
  6. How valid is assessment of the peasantry in Russia?
  7. How far do you agree with the view that the Battle of Stalingrad was mainly responsible for Soviet victory in the Second World War?
  8. To what extent do you agree with the view that by 1924, the people of Russia had exchanged one authoritarian regime for another?
  9. Assess the reasons for the purges in 1930’s Russia
  10. To what extent did Communism in Russia improve the lives of women in the years 1917-53?

A-Level History NEA ideas for civil rights in the USA

The civil rights movement in the USA spanned a long period and was made up of several significant events. Due to this, there is so much for you to focus on within this topic, from specific figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks, to key legislation or specific protests or events.

Some of the essay question you could chose for the civil rights movement are as follows.

  1. How far do you agree with the view that the most significant contribution to the success of the Civil Rights movement between 1954 and 1970 was made by people in local communities in the US?
  2. ‘Martin Luther King had the greatest impact of any individual in advancing the civil rights of African Americans in the USA.’ How valid is this view of the years 1865 to 1968?
  3. Assess the claims that the role of Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement was exaggerated.
  4. Assess the view that the Civil Rights movement was the most significant cause of Second Wave Feminism?
  5. To what extent did Rosa Parks change the nature of the Civil Rights Movement by 1965?
  6. How far did World War II improve the lives of black Americans?
  7. To what extent has the role of women in the Black Civil Rights Movement been undervalued?
  8. To what extent did Malcolm X and the Black Panthers further the civil rights movement?
  9. To what extent was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) responsible for the successes of the civil rights campaign in the years 1945–57?
  10. To what extent did life for black people in America improve between the end of the First World War and the Wall Street Crash of 1929?

A-Level History NEA ideas for Weimar and Nazi Germany

Weimar and Nazi Germany is a common topic, not only at A-Level, but also at GCSE and even at the start of secondary school, before starting GCSEs. Due to this, students will often have quite a bit of background knowledge on this topic, even if they haven’t studied it as part of their A-Levels. This can make it a bit easier for you to access this topic for your NEA.

Some NEA ideas for Weimar and Nazi Germany are as follows.

  1. ‘Propaganda was the main reason for Hitler’s rise to power in 1933’. How far do you agree?
  2. To what extent do you agree that the Holocaust was a long-term plan?
  3. The Reichstag Fire was a deliberate plot hatched by Hitler’s henchmen to help consolidate the NSDAP’s control over Germany.’ How valid is this assessment of the Reichstag Fire?
  4. Assess the view that the Wall Street Crash was the main reason the Weimar government lost support by 1930.
  5. Assess the view that Hitler’s use of fear and violence the main reason why he was able to maintain control of Germany between 1933 – 45.
  6. To what extent were the Nazis successful in winning over the hearts and minds of the youth?
  7. To what extent were ordinary German people responsible for the Holocaust?
  8. To what extent was music used as a form of opposition to the Nazi Regime?
  9. To what extent was Stresseman right when he said ‘Germany was dancing on a volcano’ when implying that German democracy would inevitably fail?
  10. Assess the view that the errors of Hitler were the main reason for allied victory in WWII.

A-Level History NEA ideas for the Tudors

Once again, the Tudors are commonly taught in some shape or form throughout, even starting in primary school. This can still make it easier to access the essay questions on this topic as you’ll already have some background knowledge.

Some NEA ideas are as follows.

  1. In the context of the years 1485 to 1603, how effectively did Tudor government deal with rebellion in England?
  2. How far do you agree with the view that the main reason for the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII was that they no longer served any useful purpose?
  3. How far do you agree with the view that Mary, Queen of Scots, was the greatest challenge facing Elizabeth in the period after 1568.
  4. Assess the reasons why there was there an attempt to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne in 1553.
  5. Assess the view that the survival of Roman Catholicism in England during the reign of Elizabeth I depended on the role of the gentry
  6. To what extent did Elizabeth I remain single to keep her political power?
  7. ‘Anne Boleyn lost her head because of the large faction against her’ To what extent is this true?
  8. Assess the view that Elizabethan propaganda was a success.
  9. ‘The reign of Mary I was a complete failure.’ How fair is this assessment?
  10. Assess the impact of the reign of Elizabeth I on the roles of women in Tudor society


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