This paper reports on an intervention study conducted with the A level students whom I teach at a sixth form college in the north-west of England. The study aimed to survey the students’ perceptions of the purposes of history education, and to broaden their understanding of the debate. The study drew upon data from 82 online forum posts from 41 history A level students. It consisted of two stages: the first surveyed students’ initial perceptions of the purposes of history education; the second aimed to further develop students’ perceptions through the deployment of stimulus material and activities designed to broaden students’ understanding of the issue. Following these activities, students’ perceptions were surveyed for a second time to facilitate comparison. The study data indicate that students who have chosen to pursue their historical studies to a higher level tend to appreciate the intrinsic value of knowing history (as opposed to its extrinsic value, such as developing transferable skills or for the sake of employability). The study also indicates that students’ perceptions of the purpose and value of historical study can be significantly altered by teacher intervention, although the long-term impact remains unassessed.