Modern History (ATAR)

Course Code: AEHIM/ATHIM
Domain: Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)
Timetable: Semester 1 and 2
Length of Course: 2 Years

Unit Information

The Modern History (ATAR) course 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 course 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 (ATAR) course 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 change in the 20th century 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 course 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

The Modern History (ATAR) course continues to develop the historical skills and understandings taught in the
Year 7–10 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

Unit One

This unit examines developments of significance in the modern era, including the ideas that inspired them
and their far-reaching consequences. Students examine one development or turning point that has helped
to define the modern world. Students explore crucial changes, for example, the application of reason to
human affairs; the transformation of production, capitalism and consumption, transport and
communications; the challenge to social hierarchy and hereditary privilege, and the assertion of inalienable
rights; and the new principles of government by consent. Through their studies, students explore the nature
of the sources for the study of modern history and build their skills in historical method through inquiry.
The key conceptual understandings covered in this unit are: what makes an historical development
significant; the changing nature and usefulness of sources; the changing representations and interpretations
of the past; and the historical legacy of these developments for the Western world and beyond.

Unit Two

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 connected with democratic political systems, and have been subject to political debate.
Through a detailed examination of one major 20th century movement, 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; and changing perspectives of the value
of these movements and how their significance is interpreted.

Unit Three

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 one nation. Students investigate crises that challenged the stability of
government, the path of development that was taken and the social, economic and political order that was
either established or maintained. Students examine the ways in which the nation dealt with internal
divisions and external threats. They emerge with a deeper understanding of the character of a modern
nation. The key conceptual understandings covered in this unit are the reliability and usefulness of evidence;
cause and effect; continuity and change; significance; empathy; contestability; and changing representations
and interpretations.

Unit Four

This unit examines some significant and distinctive features of the modern world within the period
1945–2001 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. 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; continuity and change; historical significance and
changing perspectives and interpretations of the past; and contestability.

Pathway Information



Students undertaking this course may wish to consider tertiary studies in:

  • History
  • Arts
  • Education

This course suits direct workforce entry into the following:

  • Museum Officer
  • Administration
  • Education Assistant

Additional Information

Estimated Charges: $65 per year