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 4: The Modern World since 1945

Unit 4: The Modern World since 1945 Description

This unit examines some significant and distinctive features of the modern world within the period 1945 – 2010, in order to build students’ understanding of the contemporary world - that is, why we are here at this point in time. These include changes to the nature of the world order: shifting international tensions, alliances and power blocs; the emergence of Asia as a significant international political and economic force and the nature of engagement by and with Australia; the nature of various conflicts and regional and international attempts to create peace and security; and the implications of globalisation with the ever-increasing mobility of people, the growth of the global economy and overall rise in living standards. Students study ONE of these features. As part of their study, they should follow and make relevant connections with contemporary events. The key conceptual understandings covered in this unit are: causation; change and continuity; historical significance and changing representations and interpretations of the past, and contestability.

Unit 4: The Modern World since 1945 Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students:

  • understand the distinctive features of the modern world that have emerged since World War II and the historical forces that provided their impetus
  • understand the changes that took place over time, and their significance to the experiences of individuals, groups, nations and the international community
  • 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 some distinctive features of the world since 1945; frame questions for research; interpret sources and evidence with a focus on reliability and usefulness; and use evidence to evaluate interpretations and representations, and communicate historical arguments.

Unit 4: The Modern World since 1945 Content Descriptions

Historical skills

All the following skills will be studied during this unit.

Chronology, terms and concepts

Identify links between events to understand the nature and significance of causation, change and continuity over time (ACHMH171)

Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding (ACHMH172)

Historical questions and research

Formulate, test and modify propositions to investigate historical issues (ACHMH173)

Frame questions to guide inquiry and develop a coherent research plan for inquiry (ACHMH174)

Identify, locate and organise relevant information from a range of primary and secondary sources (ACHMH175)

Practise ethical scholarship when conducting research (ACHMH176)

Analysis and use of sources

Identify the origin, purpose and context of historical sources (ACHMH177)

Analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain a historical argument (ACHMH178)

Evaluate the reliability, usefulness and contestable nature of sources to develop informed judgements that support a historical argument (ACHMH179)

Perspectives and interpretations

Analyse and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past (ACHMH180)

Evaluate critically different historical interpretations of the past, how they evolved, and how they are shaped by the historian’s perspective (ACHMH181)

Evaluate contested views about the past to understand the provisional nature of historical knowledge and to arrive at reasoned and supported conclusions (ACHMH182)

Explanation and communication

Develop texts that integrate appropriate evidence from a range of sources to explain the past and to support and refute arguments (ACHMH183)

Communicate historical understanding by selecting and using text forms appropriate to purpose and audience (ACHMH184)

Apply appropriate referencing techniques accurately and consistently (ACHMH185)

Historical knowledge and understanding

Students study ONE of the following topics, with a focus on the period 1945 – 2010:

  • The Changing World Order
  • Engagement with Asia
  • A Globalised World
  • Movements of People
  • The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East
  • The Search for Peace and Security.

Students study ONE of the following topics, with a focus on the period 1945-2010, which are to be taught with the requisite historical skills described at the start of this unit:

The Changing World Order

An overview, as background, of the nature of the world order at the end of World War II, colonialism in the Eastern communist bloc and Western capitalist bloc, and the emerging role of the United Nations (ACHMH186)

The nature of the origins and early development of the Cold War to 1948, including the ideological, cultural and political differences between the United States and the Soviet Union; and the significance of the Truman Doctrine and Berlin Blockade (ACHMH187)

The evolving nature and character of the Cold War in Europe and the Asia-Pacific from 1948 through to détente, including the arms race and threat of nuclear war, and the new Cold War of the 1980s (ACHMH188)

The involvement of Australia in the Cold War, with particular reference to foreign policy, nuclear testing at Maralinga, and the war in Vietnam (ACHMH189)

Significant developments that followed the end of the Cold War in 1989, including the breakup of the Soviet Union, the development of European governance and extension of the ‘European Union’, and the emergence of China and India as significant Asian powers (ACHMH190)

The changing nature of world order in the period 1989-2010, for example the peaceful reunification of Germany, the US as superpower, the exercise of military power, and economic influence (ACHMH191)

The role of significant individuals during the period, for example Josef Stalin, Harry Truman, Mao Zedong, John Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, Jawaharlal Nehru, Richard Nixon, Deng Xiaoping, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev (ACHMH192)

Engagement with Asia

Students investigate the following with specific reference to Australia’s relationship with Asia:

An overview, as background information, of the impact of World War II on Australia and Asia, including the significance of the fall of Singapore, the political and social impact of the war with Japan, the increasing regional involvement of the United States, and movements towards decolonisation  (ACHMH193)

The nature of Australia’s response to key developments in the period, including the success of the Communists in China, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, the return of the French to Vietnam, Indonesian claims for independence, Australia’s adherence to the White Australia Policy until 1973, and the implications of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War  (ACHMH194)

The significance of Australia’s immigration policies on regional relationships after World War II, including the reasons for the gradual dismantling of the White Australia Policy in the period 1945-1973 (ACHMH195)

The formation of formal alliances and forums, for example ANZUS, SEATO and APEC, and cultural ties with Asia (ACHMH196)

Students investigate Australia’s relationship with ONE Asian country chosen from China, India, Indonesia, Japan or Vietnam in relation to the following:

The changing characteristics of the chosen nation over the period, including political independence and alliances; system of government; political, social and cultural policies; economic growth; and the development of education and technology (ACHMH197)

The nature of the connections between the chosen country and Australia in the areas of migration, trade, culture, membership of alliances, and political affairs (ACHMH198)

The significance of the chosen country’s political and economic development since 1945 for its relationship with Australia (ACHMH199)

The role of individuals and groups, for example national leaders, businessmen, and sporting and cultural identities, in promoting or questioning closer links between the chosen country and Australia (ACHMH200)

A Globalised World

An overview, as background information, of economic and social conditions in 1945-46, including social displacement and austerity in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world following World War II  (ACHMH201)

The background to, and the key features of, post-war capitalism and communism as competing economic and social systems in the 1950s (ACHMH202)

The emergence of regional blocs in the 1950s and 1960s, including the EEC (European Economic Community) and the Soviet bloc and their contribution to the economic and social well-being of member countries (ACHMH203)

The nature of economic and social changes in Australia and one other country up to the 1970s and the impact and significance of these changes for individuals and groups within each society and for relations with other countries (ACHMH204)

The global significance of the economic recession of the 1970s for western capitalist economies, including the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the OPEC Middle East Oil Crisis (1973) (ACHMH205)

The global impact of the failure of the command economies in the 1970s and 1980s and the revival of market economies from the 1980s, including reference to the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the economic liberalisation of China (ACHMH206)

The economic and social impact of global popular culture and technology advances on Australian society in the period 1990-2010 (ACHMH207)

Movements of People

An overview, as background, of the volume and forms of migration before 1945, including legal and illegal migrants, mass migration to former settler colonies and refugee movements (ACHMH208)

The nature, extent and global distribution of populations in 1945 and then in 2010 (ACHMH209)

The circumstances in 1945 contributing to mass movement of people, including the impact of World War II on migration from Europe and its impact on Australian migration policies and on movements within the British Commonwealth (ACHMH210)

The international legal and organisational frameworks for the movement of people, including the 1948 Universal Declaration, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the anti-trafficking protocol of the Palermo Convention (2000), International Labor Organisation (ILO) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (ACHMH211)

Displacement arising from conflict and persecution (1945 -1975) for example Communist regimes in Europe (Hungarian uprising 1956), conflicts in the Middle East (Israeli military interventions in Lebanon) (ACHMH212)

Displacement arising from conflict and persecution (1975 - 2010), for example fleeing from Communism in Asia (Vietnam War) and civil wars in Africa (Horn of Africa) (ACHMH213)

The consequences of the movement of peoples in the period 1945 – 2010, for example urban migration and labour migration, and the experiences of groups that moved and the implications for Australia, Great Britain and the British Commonwealth (ACHMH214)

The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East

An overview of the background to the establishment of the British mandate in Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel, including the immediate consequences for relations between Jews and Arabs (ACHMH215)

The significance and consequences of key conflicts between Arabs and Israelis, including the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-49, the Suez War (1956), the Six-Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), Israeli military intervention in Lebanon (1978, 1982, 2006), and Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 (ACHMH216)

The nature and consequences of Palestinian reactions to Israel, including the Intifada (1987–94) and the 2nd Intifada (2000–2006) (ACHMH217)

Reasons for, and consequences of, other conflicts in the Middle East, for example the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the Iran/Iraq War (1980-1988), Iranian Revolution (1979) and the Gulf Wars I (1990–1991) and II (2003) (ACHMH218)

The attempts to settle conflicts between Arabs and Israelis, for example: the 1949 Armistice, Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), Camp David Accords (1978), the 1979 Peace Treaty, the Oslo Accords (1993), the Camp David Summit (2000), and the role of the United Nations (ACHMH219)

The impact of significant individuals and groups both in working for and in opposing peace for example David Ben-Gurion, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Golda Meir, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Hezbollah, Hamas, and ‘Peace Now’  (ACHMH220)

The consequences of the involvement of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union in the Middle East over the period, in both the continuing conflict and the peace process (ACHMH221)

The Search for Peace and Security

An overview of the threats to world security in 1945, including austerity, border disputes, refugee movements, and the peace settlement in 1945 (ACHMH222)

The reasons for the creation of the United Nations and its immediate successes, including the UN Security Council; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Genocide Convention 1948; and the Geneva Convention 1949 (ACHMH223)

The development of post war peace movements, with particular reference to their objectives, methods and influence, for example disarmament in response to the Cold War, and the use of non-violence (ACHMH224)

The role and outcomes of the United Nations as peacekeeper in specific conflicts and disputes, for example Korea 1954-1955, the former Yugoslavia after 1989; Rwanda (1993-96); Cambodia up to the first elections in 1993; and East Timor/Timor-Leste (1999-2008) (ACHMH225)

The contribution of Australia as a peacekeeper since World War II, including the military, civilian police, mine-clearers, weapons inspectors and diplomats (ACHMH226)

The changing nature of global terrorism to 2010, as represented by the objectives, methods and influence of terrorist groups, including state-based terrorism; anticolonial conflicts (such as Ireland and the United Kingdom) and international tensions (such as Al Qaeda and Western countries) (ACHMH227)

The nature of responses and the success of governments and the UN to conflicts and threats in the post-Cold War period (1991-2010), including national counter-terrorism actions, efforts to ensure disarmament and non-nuclear proliferation; and the resolutions of the UN Security Council  (ACHMH228)

The impact of significant individuals in the period, for example Eleanor Roosevelt, H V Evatt, Dag Hammarskjold, Ralph Bunche, Lester Pearson, Gareth Evans and Kofi Annan (ACHMH229)