History teaches everything including the future! - Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)

What do all of the following people have in common?

Politicians Gordon Brown and Michael Portillo, BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen, Head of MI6 John Scarlett, comedians Al Murray and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), TV presenter Jonathan Ross, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, millionaire businessman Gerald Corbett and Five Live’s Alan Green?

That’s right – they all studied History!

It is said that History is just one thing after another; however, despite what some people might say, there is much more to History than simply remembering dates and facts.  History is the story of humankind; it is the story of great men and women; it is the story of good and evil; it is the story of the famous and the unknown.  History allows us to learn about how and why the world we live in today has come to exist.  History is our story.

Members of the Department

  • Mrs N Barr
  • Mr L Boyle
  • Mrs D Ferry
  • Mr J Johnston
  • Mrs C McLaughlin
  • Mr J McQuillan (Head of Subject)

Why Study History?

There has never been a better time to study History.  The huge number of television programmes and films focused on historical topics demonstrates just how much interest there currently is in the subject.  We want to share that enthusiasm with our pupils, providing them with a broad range of approaches to teaching and learning, supporting the particular needs of each pupil, enabling them to develop skills of enquiry, argument and judgement, skills that are essential in the modern age.

‘History is enjoyable, interesting and challenging’ (Year11 student.)

You will be able to:

Play the detective - find out how we got to where we are

Travel back to the past – a bit like Dr Who - and find out what made people tick!

In addition you will be able to develop important skills that will be useful to you throughout your life and particularly in your career.  It enables you to:

  • Ask questions properly
  • Express your own opinions
  • Process information
  • Think independently
  • Structure arguments
  • Understand the views of others

What do we study?

Key Stage 3

Year 8

The Medieval World

The Normans in Ireland

The American West

Year 9

The Renaissance

Voyages of Discovery

The Reformation

The Plantation of Ireland

Cromwell in Ireland

Nationalism and Unionism Tone to O’ Connell

Year 10

Causes and Consequences of the partition of Ireland Home Rule to Civil War

The Origins and Development of the First World War

Key Stage 4 (CCEA GCSE Specification)

Year 11

Unit 1: Germany c1918-1941

Unit 1: Changing Relationships: Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland c1965-1985 (50%)


Year 12

Controlled Assessment Opposition & Support for the Vietnam War (25%)

Unit 2: The Cold War 1945-1991(25%)


Post-16 (CCEA AS/A2 Specification)

Year 13

AS1: Germany 1918-1945

AS2: Italy 1914-1943


Year 14

A21: The Clash of Ideologies 1900-2000

A22: Ireland 1775-1800


So, what can I do with History?

Although a history degree mighty not be job specific, it imparts vital transferable skills that are extremely useful in many careers.  Many history graduates move into jobs as researchers while employment can also be found with a variety of government departments and agencies, both local and national.  Further career options can include working in libraries, museums or galleries not forgetting archaeology.  Due to their solid foundation in research and analysis, a significant number of history graduates pursue careers in the law. History graduates generally possess high levels of literacy and critical thinking abilities, so are often suited to careers in journalism.  Of course there’s always teaching!

History Department Achievements 2015-2016

Year of Centenaries “Journey Together – North West Schools Jointly Remembering the Centenary”   2016

The ‘Journey Together’ project was initiated by the Church Leaders in the North West area who together with secondary school Principals and History Teachers developed a series of events that focused on the events of 100 years ago and their lasting legacy.  Together, church leaders, teachers and students learned about their shared history and learned to appreciate how these events should be jointly commemorated. The focus of the project was to provide an opportunity for joint and shared education as opposed to exploring commemoration in isolation with a pre-defined single narrative. 

There were 12 cross community schools involved in the project which will engage the History teachers and 60 students.  Participating schools were St. Columb’s College, Thornhill College, St. Cecilia’s College, St. Mary’s College, St. Joseph’s, Lumen Christi College, Foyle College, Lisneal College, Cardonagh CS, Royal and Prior Raphoe , Moville, Buncrana Scoil Mhuire.

The students who participated from St. Columb’s were Jack Long, Cahir McMonagle, and JB O’Neill from 10C and Conor Mullan and Jake Harkin from 10C.

On Wednesday 27th January2016, the History Department of St. Columb’s hosted the first event of the project. All 12 schools, 60 pupils and 12 History teachers, took part in a day of workshops facilitated by the Nerve Centre. In the workshops pupils had the opportunity to engage in the Nerve centre’s ‘Creative Centenaries’ project, which involved, making comics and recordings in relation to the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising. The feedback from the event was very positive and this was followed by a second workshop day hosted by St. Columb’s Park House. A third workshop was facilitated by the Ethical and Shared Remembering Partnership.

The group also participated in two educational visits, one to the Somme Heritage Centre and an overnight stay in Dublin. Glasnevin  Cemetery, The Garden of Rememberance and Collins Barracks were among some of the attractions visited. The group also embarked on a 1916 Easter Rising Walking Tour.

The series of events culminated in a Day of Reflection of the learning experiences in the Guildhall on the 5th May. On this day the work undertaken was showcased and the participating students were awarded for their involvement and commitment to the ‘Journey Together Project.’

External Visits: History students have enjoyed a number of very worthwhile trips this year. Two of our now annual trips took place. Firstly, all of our Year 10 students attended the Museum of Free Derry in January, in the same week of the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. This Year 10 visit was organised by Mr Mc Quillan. These visits were very informative and useful as part of their study of this period and went a long way to bringing this period in History to life. This will also be very beneficial to those Year 10 students who will study History into Year 11. Our second annual trip took place in June. Mr Boyle organised the Year 9 trip to the Tower Museum, the Derry walls and St. Columb’s Cathedral. Every Year 9 class participated in this educational visit and it was a fantastic display of local History. Mrs Barr also took a Year 10 class to a workshop organised by Derry and Strabane District Council. It was in relation to the Year of Centenaries and was facilitated by the Ethical and Shared Remembering Project.

Lectures: Our A Level History students experienced a taste of University life when they attended lectures delivered by guest speakers from local Universities. Through our connections with the NW Ireland Branch of the Historical Association, St. Columb’s hosted a series of A2 History lectures in April. Dr. Russell Rees, Dr. Alice Johnston and Dr. Allan Blackstock delivered lectures on the A2 modules of study.  Also in April, AS History students availed of similar revision lectures from Professor Alan Sharp and Dr. Diane Kirby. St. Columb’s hosted the events and our History students were joined by their peers in Foyle College, Thornhill College, St. Mary’s College, Strabane Academy, Dominican College, Coleraine Grammar School and St. Mary’s Limavady, Lisneal College and Lumen Christi College. These events were to date the best attended with close to 250 A level History students present at both events.

Projects and Events:
Year 8 Model Castle Building Competition
The annual year 8 Model Castle Competition produced an overwhelming response this year, in terms of both number of entrants and quality of models. In total there were in excess of 60 castles made for the competition. The standard was exceptional and the effort of the participants was outstanding. Thank you to Mr Bradley and Mr Johnston  who had the very difficult job of judging the competition. The winners of the castle competition was Jerico Atos 8G, Eoghan Dawson 8H and Jack McDermott 8D. Also receiving prizes were Jack Devenney 8A , Eoin Rossborough 8A, Fintan Coyle 8A, Ethan Dunlop 8D, Ethan Kelly 8G, Ben Ferguson 8G, Luke Nicell 8D, Patrick Smith 8D and Ethan Roberts 8H. Many others received highly commended and participation awards.

Derry Feis
Year 9 students, Deaglan McCauley, Cian Leppard and Ethan Mc Fadden, did St. Columb’s proud this year again at the Feis. This year the theme of the project was the Easter Rising. The students completed a very detailed project on the Easter Rising, independently researching this topic and presented their project at the Feis during Easter Week. The boys brought back the Elizabeth Keys cup for the best Post-Primary entry of the local History project and the Fr. John O’Doherty cup for the best overall prize. The judges’ comments were that the students had ‘excellently researched a highly complex topic’ and they had utilised technology very well in their presentation and their delivery was very good.