Modern History (Version 8.4)


The Modern History curriculum enables students to study the forces that have shaped today’s world and provides them with a broader and deeper comprehension of the world in which they live.


Structure of Modern History

In Modern History, students study the forces that have shaped the modern world and develop a broader and deeper comprehension of the world in which they live. The Modern History curriculum consists of four units.


Links to Foundation to Year 10

The Modern History curriculum continues to develop student learning in history through the same strands used in the Foundation to Year 10 history curriculum, although in the historical knowledge and understanding strand in Years 9-10, there is a focus on the history of Australia and the modern world, particularly world events and movements of significance in Australia’s social, economic and political development.


Representation of General capabilities

The seven general capabilities of Literacy, Numeracy, Information and Communication technology (ICT) capability, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Ethical understanding, and Intercultural understanding are identified where they offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning.


Representation of Cross-curriculum priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures includes study of the ideas that have influenced movements for change, the progress towards recognition and equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the focus of continued efforts.


Achievement standards


Unit 2: Movements for Change in the 20th century

Unit 2: Movements for Change in the 20th century Description

This unit examines significant movements for change in the 20th century that led to change in society, including people’s attitudes and circumstances. These movements draw on the major ideas described in Unit 1, have been closely connected with democratic political systems, and have been subject to political debate. Through a detailed examination of TWO major 20th century movements, students investigate the ways in which individuals, groups and institutions have challenged existing political structures, accepted social organisation, and prevailing economic models to transform societies. The key conceptual understandings covered in this unit are: the factors leading to the development of movements; the methods adopted to achieve effective change; the changing nature of these movements throughout the 20th century; and changing perspectives of the value of these movements and how their significance is interpreted.

Unit 2: Movements for Change in the 20th century Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students:

  • understand the key features of the movements for change, including the conditions that gave rise to these movements, the motivations and role of individuals and groups, and the short and long term consequences
  • understand the significance of these movements, the influence of ideas that were central in their development, and the methods employed
  • apply key concepts as part of a historical inquiry, including evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, empathy, perspectives and contestability
  • use historical skills to investigate these movements in the modern period; judge the reliability and usefulness of sources and the value of different kinds of evidence; explore different interpretations and representations; and use a range of evidence to support and communicate an historical argument.

Unit 2: Movements for Change in the 20th century Content Descriptions

Historical skills

All the following skills will be studied during this unit. Relevant skills will be emphasised for each topic.

Chronology, terms and concepts

Identify links between events to understand the nature and significance of causation, change and continuity over time (ACHMH047)

Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding (ACHMH048)

Historical questions and research

Formulate, test and modify propositions to investigate historical issues (ACHMH049)

Frame questions to guide inquiry and develop a coherent research plan for inquiry (ACHMH050)

Identify, locate and organise relevant information from a range of primary and secondary sources (ACHMH051)

Practise ethical scholarship when conducting research (ACHMH052)

Analysis and use of sources

Identify the origin, purpose and context of historical sources (ACHMH053)

Analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain an historical argument (ACHMH054)

Evaluate the reliability, usefulness and contestable nature of sources to develop informed judgements that support a historical argument (ACHMH055)

Perspectives and interpretations

Analyse and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past (ACHMH056)

Evaluate critically different historical interpretations of the past, how they evolved, and how they are shaped by the historian’s perspective (ACHMH057)

Evaluate contested views about the past to understand the provisional nature of historical knowledge and to arrive at reasoned and supported conclusions (ACHMH058)

Explanation and communication

Develop texts that integrate appropriate evidence from a range of sources to explain the past and to support and refute arguments (ACHMH059)

Communicate historical understanding by selecting and using text forms appropriate to the purpose and audience (ACHMH060)

Apply appropriate referencing techniques accurately and consistently (ACHMH061)

Historical knowledge and understanding

Modern History Senior secondary Curriculum - The Australian Curriculum v8.3

Students study TWO of the following 20th century movements which are to be taught with the requisite historical skills described at the start of this unit:

Women’s movements

The legal and political entitlements of women in Western societies, for example the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and France at the start of the 20th century, including their right to vote, their right to stand for Parliament, marriage law and property law (ACHMH062)

The role of suffrage movements in the 20th century, for example the reasons why political participation was a key objective of the movement for women’s rights (ACHMH063)

The significance of World Wars I and II for women and the effect of international agreements, for example the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights on the status of women (ACHMH064)

The early contribution of important individuals, including Vida Goldstein and Emmeline Pankhurst and the subsequent influence of authors, influential women and activists, for example Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett and Germaine Greer, on the changing nature of women’s demands after World War II (ACHMH065)

The post-war economic and technological improvements that changed women’s lives, for example new technologies in the home, the rise of consumerism and social networking (ACHMH066)

The post-war changes in social conditions affecting women, for example birth control with the introduction of the contraceptive pill; improved pay and employment opportunities; affirmative action; campaigns against violence, war and discrimination and the development of child care services (ACHMH067)

The importance of legislation in securing changes for women since World War II, for example, Roe vs Wade (US); the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Australia); the failure of the United States to ratify the 19th amendment on Equal Rights; the Equality Act of 2010 (UK); and the Human Rights Act of 2001 (New Zealand) (ACHMH068)

The achievements and legacies of women’s movements (ACHMH069)

Recognition and rights of Indigenous peoples

The nature of the relationship of Indigenous peoples with their land and their response to perceptions of, and feelings about, the arrival of the colonisers (ACHMH070)

The basis on which the colonists claimed sovereignty and imposed control, including conquest, treaty and the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’; and the consequences for the legal status and land rights of Indigenous peoples (ACHMH071)

The nature of government policies and their impact on Indigenous peoples, for example protection, assimilation (including the Stolen Generations), and self-determination (ACHMH072)

The role of individuals and groups who supported the movement for Indigenous recognition and rights, including the methods they used and the resistance they encountered (ACHMH073)

The economic, political and social challenges and opportunities Indigenous peoples have faced, including the role of cultural activity in developing awareness in society (ACHMH074)

The achievements of Indigenous peoples at the end of the 20th century, including the right to vote, land rights/native title, and attempt at reconciliation (ACHMH075)

The continued efforts to achieve greater recognition, reconciliation, civil rights, and improvements in education and health (ACHMH076)


The reasons for colonisation and how the country became colonised, including the different situations of the chosen countries, and the nature of those differences (ACHMH077)

Conditions in the colony at the start of the 20th century, with specific reference to the living conditions of the colonisers and the colonised, the political structure in place, the aspirations of those living under colonisation, and the nature of the economy (ACHMH078)

The economic and moral challenges to Europe’s ability to maintain colonies that resulted from the impact of World Wars I and II (ACHMH079)

The emergence of movements for decolonisation, the key groups and individuals that pressed for liberation of the colony, the ideas that influenced them, and their struggle to achieve independence (ACHMH080)

The significance of international movements for change that supported the decolonisation process, for example the emerging recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples, movements for international peace and cooperation, and the recognition of human rights (ACHMH081)

The outcomes of decolonisation, government, democratic freedoms, economic development, education and health care (ACHMH082)

The key developments over time in the independent country, for example increasing urbanisation, and matters related to governance (single party or democratic representation), internal security, social equality, and independent foreign policy (ACHMH083)

The Civil rights movement in the USA

The circumstances of African Americans in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, including the legacy of the Civil War, the limitation of voting rights, the extent of segregation, and various forms of discrimination (ACHMH084)

The formation and role of groups supporting civil rights and their ideas for change, for example the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP) in 1909, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1941, the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) in 1951, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 and the Black Panthers (1960s -1970s) (ACHMH085)

The role and significance of individuals in the struggle for civil rights, for example Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parkes, and Malcolm X (ACHMH086)

The methods employed by civil rights movements in the United States across the period, including local and national boycotts, direct action and political agitation (for example voter registration) (ACHMH087)

The nature and extent of the opposition to civil rights, with particular reference to the role of the Lily-White Movement, the Ku Klux Klan, and the White Citizens’ Council (ACHMH088)

The significance of key events in bringing about social and political change, including the role of African Americans in World War II, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the desegregation of Little Rock High School, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington and the ‘Mississippi Freedom Summer’ of 1964 (ACHMH089)

The significance of legislative change, including the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Act (1964), and the attitudes of presidents for example Franklin Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson (ACHMH090)

The influence of the US civil rights movement beyond the US (ACHMH091)

Workers’ movements

The development of protest movements during the Industrial Revolution, for example the Tolpuddle Martyrs; Chartists; and the International Workingmen’s Association; the formation of trade unions, moves to regulate employment; and demands for an eight-hour day (ACHMH092)

The emergence of political parties (labor and non-labor) in Western countries in the 19th and 20th centuries, the role of trade unions in their formation, and the policies and methods of workers’ parties (ACHMH093)

The different aims and objectives of international organisations, for example: Industrial Workers of the World (1905), the International Labour Organisation (1919), and the International Federation of Trade Unions (1919), and the methods they used to advance workers’ interests (ACHMH094)

Specific achievements relating to workers’ rights, including the eight-hour day and the minimum wage, the significance of Articles 23 and 24 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the strategy of recognising inalienable workers’ rights on a global scale (ACHMH095)

The post-war economic boom and the increase in the wage standards of workers’ in the West in the second half of the 20th century; and increased opportunities including education, training and social mobility


The significance of changes to workers’ rights during the 20th century, including the provision of minimum wages; limitations on working hours; restrictions on child labour; the right to industrial arbitration; and changing rights and responsibilities of employers, and their role in supporting workers’, including occupational health and safety (ACHMH097)