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An exciting and busy start to the academic year

15 September 2017

  • British International School Hanoi| Learning
  • British International School Hanoi| Learning
  • British International School Hanoi| Learning

It has been an exciting and busy start to the academic year, which began with a celebration of the fantastic results our students achieved at both IGCSE and A Level; in both History and Geography 100% of the students achieved an A*-C grade. 

The Humanities, which have been described as ‘the study of how people understand and document the human experience’, comprises the academic disciplines that focus on society and culture. At British International School Hanoi, the Humanities play a vital role, not only in developing important knowledge and understanding, but in shaping our students’ attitudes and mindsets, making them truly global citizens. 

The Humanities Faculty comprises two specialist Geography teachers: Mr Schofield and Mr Forster; two specialist History teachers: Mr Agass and myself; and, our dedicated Teaching Assistant, Ms Ngoc who supports students in both subjects. Our faculty specialisms include: Late Imperial and Soviet Russian history; the historiography of the Cold War; Hazard Management in response to natural disasters; and, Demography and Resource Management. 

As a faculty, one of our main priorities is to develop links and connections between the two subjects at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9). One initiative is to institute a common set of learning and thinking skills across lessons. For example, students in Year 9 are currently learning how to apply ‘Nexus Thinking’ strategies in Geography while they study Global Interactions. Later in the term, they will apply these skills in History when they evaluate the causes of the First World War. 

We have also started to align our schemes of work to allow maximum overlap of content between Year 9 and Year 10 to bridge the gap smoothly between KS3 and IGCSE. This means that at the start of Year 10 the students already have a good level of familiarity with the topics and feel more confident in answering examination questions. For example, our new IGCSE Historians are currently assessing the impact of the Treaty of Versailles on Germany to determine whether or not the peace settlement was fair. This links back to their study of the causes of the Second World War in Year 9.

Our Geography students in Year 11 are about to embark upon their coursework and will investigate the quality of the environment in Hanoi at a range of locations that cover different land-uses. The students will collect quantitative and qualitative data to allow them to present their findings using a range of sophisticated graphical techniques. They will analyse their findings to write an evaluative summary of their investigation. Teamwork and communication are the transferable skills that they will develop, which is excellent preparation for when they embark on Internal Assessments in all 6 subjects they will study next year at IB. The new 2017 syllabus for IB Geography course is contemporary, engaging and varied.  SL students will be studying Global Climate; Changing Population; and Fresh Water – this will involve a river study, including a field-trip to Ba Vi National Park.  HL students, will also study Extreme Environments; Power, Places & Networks; and, Human Diversity.

Our History students at IB have recently completed their first-draft Internal Assessments, which challenge them to complete an independent research enquiry on a topic of their choice. This year the students have submitted research on a range of interesting and disputatious topics including: the impact of opposition groups on late Imperial Russia; the significance of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II; and, the factors behind Prussia’s economic growth in the late 19th century. We look forward to reading the final drafts which make up 20% of their overall grade. 

Looking ahead, we hope to offer an increased selection of trips and educational visits, and are planning to take Year 8 students on a tour of Hanoi to explore its past, present and future, linking this to topics covered in Geography and History. 

Should you wish to find out more about the work we do in Humanities, or to ask any questions about the curriculum, please do not hesitate to contact me direct at I’d be happy to take your questions.

Bradley Minchin, Head of Humanities