Category | GCE

AS Archaeology

AQA has announced that it will phase out the AS and AL Archaeology exams. There will be no new specifications to replace the existing modular one. The exams for the existing specification will be held for the last time in June 2018 with the possibility of re-sit only exam in June 2019. So if you are already studying for AS Archaeology try to make the most of the time left. I understand from AQA that both AS and AL exams will be available in 2018/2019 but if you are aiming to take the full AL you may wish to take your AS exams in June 2017.

The disappearance of Archaeology from the GCE will be regretted by many university departments as it provides a valuable foundation for undergraduate study.  AQA’s  announcement received wide media cover with many teachers and practitioners expressing their dismay. Perhaps between now and 2018 another board may come forward but we have no news of any such development yet.

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GCE AS History – Last Exam May/June 2016

Edexcel has recently confirmed to me that all Units for AS and A2 History are available at the May/June 2016 examinations. This will be the last sitting for AS under the 2008-2014 (legacy) specification but it is open to first-time candidates. It is not restricted to re-sits.

On the Pearson website, there is an Edexcel chart for re-sits headed up ‘Availability of AS and A level resits for legacy qualifications’ which appears to suggest that May/June 2016 is just for re-sits. This not so. The chart is intended for the guidance of re-sit candidates, some of whom will be re-sitting AS alongside their attempt at A2.

When you apply to your exam centre, it is possible that the exams officer, relying on the ‘Availability’ chart, may advise you that the exam is for re-sits only.  If you get this response, inform the exams officer that this is not the case and that you wish to book your exam. If you have any difficulty please refer to me or ask the exams officer to verify the position with the Subject Officer at Edexcel.

But remember that May/June 2016 is the last AS sitting and you do not have a re-sit opportunity. Get your Assignments and revision done in good time to make sure you pass. Don’t forget to let us know how you got on.




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GCE AS Archaelogy

Continued Tuition

If you have enrolled for our AS Archaeology course, please note that AQA will continue to hold exams for the 2012 specification in 2016 and 2017. So if you have not managed to complete your course you still have time to pass the exam and gain an AS qualification. Provided you apply by 31 August 2015, we will provide you with a FREE 12 month course extension to 2016 to enable you benefit from our tutorial assistance. Just email us for your extension. (Remember to give us any change of address or email address.)

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Exam entry date

Edexcel (History update) has announced that the closing date by which local centres must send in AL GCE May/June entries is 21 February 2015. You may still be able to apply after this date but a late entry fee would be likely.  As local centres will have to set their own closing dates a little earlier in order to do the necessary admin, aim to make your application as soon as possible. Check with your centre right away if you have not already done so.

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AS Levels for University Entry

Are you taking AS Levels as part of your plans for university entry? Cambridge University has urged candidates to take at least three and preferably four AS Levels to help with university entrance (Daily Telegraph, 5 November 2014). The University regards AS Levels as a ‘robust indicator’ of ability, conferring ‘significant educational benefit’ and a ‘good predictor of success at university’.  The advice applies whether you are taking the existing AS Levels, which carry a credit towards the full Advanced Level, or the new ‘standalone’ AS Levels available for study from September 2015.  For many years universities have considered AS Levels to be a good predictor of success at university so this advice is not new but has been re-emphasised as candidates may overlook the value of having distinct AS Level qualifications when preparing for the new Advanced Levels. So keep working for those AS Levels.

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Calling AS Archaeology Students

Our Archaeology Tutor, Dr Alex Pryor, has started a new job at the University of Southampton as a post-doctorate researcher on a Leverhulme-funded project looking a food storage in the Palaeolithic.  Alex also remains associated with the McDonald Institute for Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. He hopes that AS Archaeology students who have enjoyed their courses and passed their exams will consider applying to universities to read Archaeology (and get plenty of field practice as well). Alex himself has been on fieldwork in the Czech Republic this month. So start applying!

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What have the Romans done for us?

We often learn something new  about archaeology when we read engineering reports. Dr Robert Carroll, Technical Director of the UK Quality Ash Association (did you know there was one?) writes in the March issue of Civil Engineering Surveyor that: “The use of ash in construction dates back over 2000 years when it was widely used by the ancient Romans and Greeks who built many of their largest towns and cities close to active volcanic ranges where ash was readily available.  By mixing ash with lime, water and stone, both civilisations found they could create a strong binding agent and building material that was ideal for use in large, complex structures such as domes and temples – where aesthetics needed to be backed by structural integrity.” Nowadays, apparently we mainly use ash produced at coal-fired power stations as a by-product of the combustion process. Dr Carroll points out that, by using this secondary resource, contractors can avoid using raw materials such as quarried stone or topsoil. And fewer truck movements are needed as pulverised fuel ash (PFA) is lighter than soil or stone.

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History GCE Advanced Level

Edexcel has confirmed that the new Advanced Level syllabus will be available from September 2015 for the first exam in Summer 2017.  (AS Level History continues as a standalone qualification.) So, there’s plenty of time to complete existing courses but make sure you get on with them!

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AQA AS Archaeology: Topics for Paper 1 Section B

Prescribed Sites

In Paper 1 Section B you study a selection of prescribed archaeological sites in cultural context. The topics for study for AS exams from June 2014 onwards are the same as those for 2012-14:

  • Vedbaek
  • Thornborough
  • Maeshowe
  • Hochdorf
  • Seahenge.

So you will not need new study material if you are continuing the course after June this year.

Remember that the exams are now June only

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History coursework

Recently, we have clarified with Edexcel what items you should include in the word count for your essays. The answer is, basically, that only your essays are covered in the word count, including any footnotes (which you should keep short and to the point). If you are busy completing your History coursework (Edexcel Unit 4), you will be aware that you must submit your Resource Record with your coursework essays. This is not the same thing as a bibliography.  The Resource Record covers your investigation of possible sources, your annotations on their usefulness and any guidance given by your Tutor. Although it must be attached to your coursework, the Resource Record is not marked and of course it is not included in the word count for your essays. It helps to show how you have tackled the sources required for your essays.  When you write your essays, you will need to cite those specific sources from which you have drawn information and you should list these sources by title, author and ideally publication date, in a bibliography attached to your essays. There are plenty of examples of bibliographies in Edexcel’s Coursework Book. Follow the same format. You may also attach an Appendix, e.g. to reproduce a speech or letter that is too long to include in full in your essays. Neither the bibliography or Appendix is included in your word count. They are simply attached as supporting materials.

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