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. While the focus is on the 20th century, the curriculum refers back to formative changes from the late 18th century onwards and encourages students to make connections with the changing world of the 21st century.

Modern History enhances students’ curiosity and imagination and their appreciation of larger themes, individuals, movements, events and ideas that have shaped the contemporary world. The themes that run through the units include: local, national and global conflicts and their resolution; the rise of nationalism and its consequences; the decline of imperialism and the process of decolonisation; the continuing struggle for the recognition of human rights; the transformation of social and economic life; the regional shifts in power and the rise of Asia; and the changing nature and influence of ideologies.

The Modern History curriculum begins with a study of key developments that have helped to define the modern world, with special attention given to important ideas and their consequences. This provides a context for a study of movements for rights and recognition that have challenged the authority of the nation-state, the principal form of political organisation in the modern world. Students then investigate crises that confronted nation-states in the 20th century, the responses to these crises and the different paths nations have taken in the modern world. The curriculum concludes with a study of the distinctive features of world order that have emerged since World War II and that are central to an understanding of the present.

The Modern History curriculum continues to develop the historical skills and understandings taught in the Foundation to Year 10 History curriculum. Students pose increasingly complex questions about the past and use their historical inquiry skills, analytical skills and interpretation of sources to formulate reasoned answers to those questions. The opportunities to apply these skills are sequential and cumulative so that students develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the different and sometimes conflicting perspectives of the past.

Students are introduced to the complexities associated with the changing nature of evidence, its expanding quantity, range and form; the distinctive characteristics of modern historical representation; and the skills that are required to investigate controversial issues that have a powerful contemporary resonance. Students develop increasingly sophisticated historiographical skills and historical understanding in their analysis of significant events and close study of the nature of modern societies.


The Modern History curriculum aims to develop students’:

  • knowledge and understanding of particular events, ideas, movements and developments that have shaped the modern world
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in research, evaluation of sources, synthesis of evidence, analysis of interpretations and representations, and communication of findings
  • application of historical concepts, including evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, empathy, perspectives and contestability
  • capacity to be informed citizens with the skills, including analytical and critical thinking, to participate in contemporary debates.