The following is taken from the Exam Board Specification - this tells you everything you need to know for the exam.
If you want the TL;DR, scroll down.
This option allows students to study in depth a specified period, the last __35 __years of Elizabeth I’s reign. The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth I’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints, and arising contemporary and historical controversies.
Part one: Elizabeth’s court and Parliament
- Elizabeth I and her court: background and character of Elizabeth I; court life, including patronage; key ministers.
- The difficulties of a female ruler: relations with Parliament; the problem of marriage and the succession; the strength of Elizabeth’s authority at the end of her reign, including Essex’s rebellion in 1601.
Part two: Life in Elizabethan times
- A ‘Golden Age’: living standards and fashions; growing prosperity and the rise of the gentry; the Elizabethan theatre and its achievements; attitudes to the theatre.
- The poor: reasons for the increase in poverty; attitudes and responses to poverty; the reasons for government action and the seriousness of the problem.
- English sailors: Hawkins and Drake; circumnavigation 1577–1580, voyages and trade; the role of Raleigh.
Part three: Troubles at home and abroad
- Religious matters: the question of religion, English Catholicism and Protestantism;the Northern Rebellion; Elizabeth’s excommunication; the missionaries; Catholic plots and the threat to the Elizabethan settlement; the nature and ideas of the Puritans and Puritanism; Elizabeth and her government’s responses and policies towards religious matters.
- Mary Queen of Scots: background; Elizabeth and Parliament’s treatment of Mary; the challenge posed by Mary; plots; execution and its impact.
- Conflict with Spain: reasons; events; naval warfare, including tactics and technology;the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
This paper also includes the ‘historic environment’ study. This year, it is on Hardwick Hall.
Here is what the specification says – beware, it is long.
Part four: The historic environment of Elizabethan England
Students will be examined on a specific site in depth. This site will be as specified and will be changed annually. The site will relate to the content of the rest of this depth study. It is intended that study of different historic environments will enrich students’ understanding of Elizabethan England.
There is no requirement to visit the specified site. Teachers may wish to visit a similar site in their locality to inform their teaching, however no reward will be given in the assessment for visiting the specified site or any other site.
The study of the historic environment will focus on a particular site in its historical context and should examine the relationship between a specific place and associated historical events and developments.
Students will be expected to answer a question that draws on second order concepts of change, continuity, causation and/or consequence, and to explore them in the context of the specified site and wider events and developments of the period studied.
Students should be able to identify key features of the specified site and understand their connection to the wider historical context of the specific historical period. Sites will also illuminate how people lived at the time, how they were governed and their beliefs and values.
The following aspects of the site should be considered:
- the structure
- people connected with the site eg the designer, originator and occupants
- how the design reflects the culture, values, fashions of the people at the time
- how important events/developments from the depth study are connected to the site.
Students will be expected to understand the ways in which key features and other aspects of the site are representative of the period studied. In order to do this, students will also need to be aware of how the key features and other aspects of the site have changed from earlier periods.
Students will also be expected to understand how key features and other aspects may have changed or stayed the same during the period.
In Summary: The Content
This exam aims to cover all of the aspects of a Elizabethan society – it really covers the__ 35__ year period inside out. However, there more of a focus on Elizabeth herself, and Elizabeth as a ruler.
You will absolutely need to know the following cornerstone areas within the period:
- Elizabeth as a ruler
- Elizabeth’s foreign policy
- Elizabeth and religion
- The Golden Age
- Elizabeth’s relationship with Mary Queen of Scots.
This doesn’t mean you can ignore the other topics! But without the five above, you will struggle to make sense of the course.