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 3: Modern Nations in the 20th century

Unit 3: Modern Nations in the 20th century Description

This unit examines the characteristics of modern nations in the 20th century; the crises that confronted nations, their responses to these crises and the different paths nations have taken to fulfil their goals. Students study the characteristics of TWO nations, including ONE from List 1 and ONE from List 2. In their study of a List 1 nation, students investigate crises that challenged the stability of government. In their study of a List 2 nation, students study the path of development that was taken and the social, economic and political order that was established. In their study of both nations, students examine the ways in which the nations dealt with internal divisions and external threats. They emerge with a deeper understanding of the character of modern nations. The key conceptual understandings covered in this unit are the reliability and usefulness of evidence; cause and effect; change and continuity; significance; empathy; contestability; and changing representations and interpretations.

Unit 3: Modern Nations in the 20th century Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students:

  • understand the characteristics of modern nations, the internal divisions and external threats that they encountered, and the different experiences of individuals and groups within those states
  • understand the significance of the changes experienced by modern nations and the different paths of development they have taken
  • 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 the history of selected nations, frame questions for research, determine the reliability and usefulness of sources and evidence, explore different interpretations of the past, and use a range of evidence to analyse interpretations and representations, and communicate historical arguments.

Unit 3: Modern Nations 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 (ACHMH098)

Historical questions and research

Formulate, test and modify propositions to investigate historical issues (ACHMH100)

Frame questions to guide inquiry and develop a coherent research plan for inquiry (ACHMH101)

Identify, locate and organise relevant information from a range of primary and secondary sources (ACHMH102)

Practise ethical scholarship when conducting research (ACHMH103)

Analysis and use of sources

Identify the origin, purpose and context of historical sources (ACHMH104)

Analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain a historical argument (ACHMH105)

Evaluate the reliability, usefulness and contestable nature of sources to develop informed judgements that support a historical argument (ACHMH106)

Perspectives and interpretations

Analyse and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past (ACHMH107)

Evaluate critically different historical interpretations of the past, how they evolved, and how they are shaped by the historian’s perspective (ACHMH108)

Evaluate contested views about the past to understand the provisional nature of historical knowledge and to arrive at reasoned and supported conclusions (ACHMH109)

Explanation and communication

Develop texts that integrate appropriate evidence from a range of sources to explain the past and to support and refute arguments (ACHMH110)

Communicate historical understanding by selecting and using text forms appropriate to the purpose and audience (ACHMH111)

Apply appropriate referencing techniques accurately and consistently (ACHMH112)

Historical knowledge and understanding

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

Chronology, terms and concepts

Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding (ACHMH099)

List 1

United States of America, 1917 –1945 (Entry into WWI – End of WWII)

An overview of the United States of America in 1917 as background information for more intensive study of the period (ACHMH113)

The nature and causes of internal divisions within American society and the aims and beliefs of different groups: for example African Americans, urban workers, rural workers, immigrants, industrialists and members of Indian Nations; and the consequences of divisions for example the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the Scopes ‘Monkey’ Trial and the Trial of Ossian Sweet (ACHMH114)

The significance of prohibition and the ‘Jazz Age’ in shaping American values, for example music, film and fashion (ACHMH115)

The consequences of the Great Depression for different groups and the effectiveness of political responses, including the New Deal


The changing nature of American foreign policy between 1917 and 1945, including its international alliances and relationships; and the policy of isolationism (ACHMH117)

The nature and scope of America’s war effort in Europe, Asia and the Pacific (1941-1945), including the reasons for US involvement in World War II, and the decision to use the atomic bomb (ACHMH118)

The role and impact of significant individuals in the period, for example Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, F. D. Roosevelt, Booker T Washington, Jessie Owens, Amelia Earhart  (ACHMH119)

Australia, 1918 –1949 (End of WWI – Election of Menzies)

An overview of Australia in 1918 as background information for more intensive study of the period (ACHMH120)

The adjustment of national priorities in the 1920s, including the tensions between urbanisation, industrialisation and rural development; the difficulties of soldier settlement; the exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples; and the changing role of women (ACHMH121)

The impact of the Great Depression on different groups within Australian society and the effectiveness of political responses to the crisis (ACHMH122)

The changing nature and significance of Australia’s foreign policy from 1916-1949 (ACHMH123)

The nature and scope of Australia’s war effort in Europe, Asia and the Pacific (1939-1945) (ACHMH124)

The key features of post-war reconstruction, including industrialisation, immigration, the provision of social welfare, and attitudes and policies towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and women (ACHMH125)

The impact of the rise of communism, its influence on the election of Robert Menzies and the Coalition in 1949, and the contrasting economic and social policies offered at the 1949 election (ACHMH126)

The role and impact of significant individuals in the period, for example W.M. Hughes, Sir John Monash, Vida Goldstein, Ben Chifley, John Curtin, Robert Menzies (ACHMH127)

Germany, 1918 –1945 (End of WWI – End of World War II)

An overview of Germany in 1918 as background for more intensive study of the period (ACHMH129)

The reasons for the Nazi Party’s rise to power, including the Treaty of Versailles, the impact of the Great Depression, the nature of Nazi ideology and hostility to communism, the ability of Hitler and theNazi Party to utilise popular fears, and the Party’s organisational and tactical skills (ACHMH130)

The nature and effects of key aspects of the Nazi state, including military mobilisation, Lebensraum (living space), propaganda, terror and repression (SA and SS), the Hitler Youth, and policy on religion (ACHMH131)

Nazi policies of antisemitism and the promotion of the Aryan race resulting in efforts to exterminate minorities in German-controlled lands and the Holocaust (ACHMH132)

Germany’s war effort, including its early successes and subsequent failures leading to the defeat of Germany by the Allies and the division of Germany (ACHMH133)

The role and impact of significant individuals in Weimar and Nazi Germany, for example Gustav Stresemann, President von Hindenburg, Leni Riefenstahl, Alfred Krupp, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring and Albert Speer (ACHMH134)

Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917 – 1945 (Revolution – End of World War II)

An overview of Russia in 1917 as background for more intensive study of the period (ACHMH135)

The internal divisions and crises within Russian society, including the causes, events and outcomes of the February and October Revolutions in 1917; the opposition to the Bolsheviks, the civil war and the reasons for the Bolshevik victory (ACHMH136)

The significance of the struggle of Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky for power and the reasons for the success of Stalin (ACHMH137)

The changes that transformed Russia, including the New Economic Policy, the creation of the USSR, the Five Year plans and how they contributed to state control of the economy, forced rural collectivisation, state-created famine and the modernisation of the Soviet Union (ACHMH138)

The different experiences of individuals and groups in the period to 1945, including peasants and factory workers, and the methods the regime employed to control them, including mobilisation and propaganda, repression, the Purges and the Great Terror  (ACHMH139)

The impact of World War II and the methods that enabled the USSR to secure victory (ACHMH140)

The role and impact of significant individuals in the period, for example Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Nikolai Yezhov, Sergei Kirov, Alexandra Kollontai, Vyacheslav Molotov and Georgy Zhukov (ACHMH141)

List 2

Japan, 1931 − 1967 (Invasion of Manchuria – Foundation Day Ceremony)

An overview of Japan in 1931 as background for more intensive study of the period (ACHMH142)

Japan’s first invasion of Manchuria in 1931 for political, military and social reasons (ACHMH143)

Japan during World War II, including the extent and nature of Japanese imperial expansion in Asia and the Pacific; the formation of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere; the external threats to Japan, including tension with the USA over trade before WWII; the bombing of Pearl Harbor; the scope and nature of fighting in Asia and the Pacific during WWII; and the US atomic attacks in 1945 (ACHMH144)

The immediate post-war effects of Japan’s defeat, including opposition to democratic government; political division within the Japanese military; opposition to the Allied occupation after the war; the changes introduced during the American occupation (ACHMH145)

The internal development of Japan after the Occupation and the nature of its foreign policy, including the nature of the constitution and political system; the terms of the US-Japan Security Treaty, and the nature of the political order that followed; and the reasons for Japan’s low-profile role in world affairs and post-war economic development to the 1960s (ACHMH146)

Japan’s role and situation in the initial Cold War period, including membership of the UN, the limits on its military role and territorial disputes with the USSR, China, and North and South Korea (ACHMH147)

The role and impact of significant individuals in the period, for example Hideki Tojo, Emperor Hirohito, General Douglas MacArthur, Hayato Ikeda, Eisaku Sato, Eiji Toyoda, Akio Morita, and Yoshida Shigeru (ACHMH148)

India, 1947 – 1974 (Independence – First Nuclear Test)

An overview of India in 1947 as background for more intensive study of the period, including the impact of World War II (ACHMH149)

The nature of the division in India that resulted in the creation of Pakistan (1947) and Bangladesh (1971), including the different paths taken by the two nations, and the response of India (ACHMH150)

The establishment and significance of the Indian constitution (1950); the subsequent role of the Indian Congress Party, Hindu nationalism and the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1964) (ACHMH151)

The key features and significance of the Indira Gandhi leadership and policies (1966-1974) (ACHMH152)

The changing nature of India’s foreign policy and external threats in the period, including relations with power blocs, wars with Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir (1948, 1965 and 1971), recognition of Tibet as part of China, the liberation of Goa (1961), border war with China (1962), creation of Bangladesh (1971) and India’s nuclear test (1974) (ACHMH153)

The experiences of different groups and castes in India, with particular reference to Hindus, Muslims, women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Castes (ACHMH154)

The role and impact of significant individuals in India in the period, including Jinnah, B.R Ambedkar, Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Indira Gandhi (ACHMH155)

Indonesia, 1942 – 1974 (Japanese occupation – invasion of East Timor)

An overview of Indonesia in 1942 as background for more intensive study of the period, including the Indonesian nationalist movement in the 1930s and the idea of Indonesia (ACHMH156)

The reasons for the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, the nature of the occupation and its effects on different groups, including forced labourers; the effects of the occupation on Indonesian nationalism; the declaration of Indonesian independence in 1945 and its aftermath; and the Netherlands’ attempts to re-establish colonial rule (ACHMH157)

The background, role and significance of Sukarno’s presidency, with particular reference to ‘Guided democracy’; the reasons for the growth of the Indonesian Communist Party; and the role of the military (ACHMH158)

The reasons for the deterioration in Indonesia’s economy up to 1965 and its impact on the population, including hyperinflation and food shortages (ACHMH159)

The nature and causes of internal divisions in Indonesian society, including the ethnic and religious differences, and the role of Chinese Indonesians (ACHMH160)

Indonesian foreign policy to 1965, including the Bandung Conference, relations with the USSR, China and the USA, confrontation with Malaysia and the annexation of West Irian (ACHMH161)

The nature and significance of the 1965 coup, including the mass killings 1965-1966; the rise to power of Suharto and the army, the transmigration program and conflicts between settlers and indigenous populations; pro-democracy movements; and the reasons for the invasion of East Timor in 1974 (ACHMH162)

The role and impact of significant individuals and groups in the period, for example Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta, Dipa Nusantara Aidit, Suharto and Parmudya Ananta Toer, the LEKRA and Muhammadiyah groups (ACHMH163)

China, 1937-1976 (Second Japanese Invasion of Manchuria – Cultural Revolution)

An overview of China in 1937 as background for more intensive study of the period (ACHMH164)

The purpose and nature of the ‘Yan’an Way’, including the Long March; Mao Zedong’s rise to prominence; life in the base areas including gender relations, rectification movements, and the role of the Chinese Communist Party’s participation in the war against Japan (ACHMH165)

Similarities and differences in both structure and philosophy between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party, and the conflict that led to a change in the regime in 1949 and the creation of a Communist state (ACHMH166)

Chinese involvement in the Cold War and relations with the United States in the Korean conflict (1950-53), and the nature and practice of China’s subsequent international relations until the 1960s (ACHMH167)

The characteristics and impact of the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), including the role of communes, methods of production, and the difficulties faced by workers (ACHMH168)

The significance of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) as a continuing attempt to organise Chinese social and economic life and to suppress dissent, and the implications for groups within China, including rural peasants and political dissidents (ACHMH169)

The role and impact of significant individuals in the period, for example Mao Zedong, Jiang Qing, Jiang Jieshi, Zhou Enlai and Lin Piao (ACHMH170)