Structure of Ancient History

Structure of Ancient History


In Ancient History, students study the key institutions, structures and features of ancient societies and develop a broader and deeper comprehension of the origins, impact and legacy of ideas, beliefs and values of the ancient world. The Ancient History curriculum consists of four units. For each unit there are seven to 16 topic electives that focus on a particular event, society, historical period, site, source or issue. Each unit includes a focus on key concepts that define the discipline of history, such as cause and effect, significance, and contestability.

The four units include:

Unit 1: Investigating the Ancient World

This unit provides an introduction to the nature of the remaining evidence of the ancient past and issues relevant to the investigation of the ancient world. The unit involves an investigation of the evidence for an ancient site, individual, group or event and how it has been interpreted and represented.

Unit 2: Ancient Societies

This unit examines how people lived in the ancient world through an investigation of the remaining evidence. The unit focuses on the study of significant features of ancient societies, such as slavery, the family, and beliefs, rituals and funerary practices.

Unit 3: People, Power and Authority

This unit examines the nature and exercise of power and authority in ancient societies in key periods, with reference to the evidence of significant political, military, religious and economic features. The study of an individual as part of this unit enables study of the influence of the ‘individual’ on events and developments.

Unit 4: Reconstructing the Ancient World

This unit focuses on a significant historical period to develop an understanding of the relevant institutions, practises, key events and individuals of the period, in the context of a wide range of sources. This unit allows for greater study of the challenges associated with the interpretation and evaluation of evidence.

Ancient History: Concepts and topics across units (PDF)

Organisation of content

The Ancient History curriculum continues to develop student learning in history through the two strands of historical knowledge and understanding, and historical skills. This strand organisation provides an opportunity to integrate content in flexible and meaningful ways.

Historical knowledge and understanding

This strand focuses on knowledge and understanding of key institutions, structures and features of ancient societies through the study of significant periods, events, developments, and individuals. Historical understanding is developed through concepts that define history as a discipline, including evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, empathy, perspectives and contestability.

Historical skills

This strand presents skills that are used in historical inquiry. There are five key skill areas that build on those learned in the Foundation to Year 10 curriculum and which continue to be developed in the Ancient History curriculum. These include chronology, terms and concepts; historical questions and research; analysis and use of sources; perspectives and interpretations; and explanation and communication. There is an emphasis through this strand on the development of informed and defensible responses to inquiry questions through a critical use of sources.

Relationships between the strands

The two strands are interrelated and the content has been written to enable integration of the strands in the development of a teaching and learning program. The historical knowledge and understanding strand provides the contexts through which particular skills are to be developed. The same set of historical skills has been included in each of the four units to provide a common focus for the teaching and learning of content in the historical knowledge and understanding strand.

Organisation of achievement standards

The Ancient History achievement standards are organised as two dimensions: knowledge and understanding, and historical skills, and describe five levels of student achievement. These follow the organisation of the content to provide a clear alignment that may be helpful to teachers of Ancient History.

Senior secondary achievement standards have been written for each Australian Curriculum senior secondary subject. The achievement standards provide an indication of typical performance at five different levels (corresponding to grades A to E) following the completion of study of senior secondary Australian Curriculum content for a pair of units. They are broad statements of understanding and skills that are best read and understood in conjunction with the relevant unit content. They are structured to reflect key dimensions of the content of the relevant learning area. They will be eventually accompanied by illustrative and annotated samples of student work/ performance/ responses.

The achievement standards will be refined empirically through an analysis of samples of student work and responses to assessment tasks: they cannot be maintained a priori without reference to actual student performance. Inferences can be drawn about the quality of student learning on the basis of observable differences in the extent, complexity, sophistication and generality of the understanding and skills typically demonstrated by students in response to well-designed assessment activities and tasks.

In the short term, achievement standards will inform assessment processes used by curriculum, assessment and certifying authorities for course offerings based on senior secondary Australian Curriculum content.

ACARA has made reference to a common syntax (as a guide, not a rule) in constructing the achievement standards across the learning areas. The common syntax that has guided development is as follows:

  1. Given a specified context (as described in the curriculum content)
  2. With a defined level of consistency/accuracy (the assumption that each level describes what the student does well, competently, independently, consistently)
  3. Students perform a specified action (described through a verb)
  4. In relation to what is valued in the curriculum (specified as the object or subject)
  5. With a defined degree of sophistication, difficulty, complexity (described as an indication of quality)

Terms such as ‘analyse’ and ‘describe’ have been used to specify particular action but these can have everyday meanings that are quite general. ACARA has therefore associated these terms with specific meanings that are defined in the senior secondary achievement standards glossary and used precisely and consistently across subject areas