Stage 1 | Subject outline | Version control

Modern History Stage 1
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024.
Accredited in August 2017 for teaching at Stage 1 from 2018.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content


Stage 1 Modern History is a 10-credit subject or a 20-credit subject.

In the study of Modern History at Stage 1, students explore changes within the world since 1750, examining developments and movements of significance, the ideas that inspired them, and their short-term and long-term consequences for societies, systems, and individuals.

Students explore the impacts that these developments and movements had on people’s ideas, perspectives, and circumstances. They investigate ways in which people, groups, and institutions challenge political structures, social organisation, and economic models to transform societies.

The developments and movements have been subject to political debate. Students consider the dynamic processes of imperialism, revolution, and decolonisation, and how these have reconfigured political, economic, social, and cultural systems. Students also look at how recognition of the rights of individuals and societies has created challenges and responses.

Through their studies, students build their skills in historical method through inquiry, by examining and evaluating the nature of sources. This includes who wrote or recorded them, whose history they tell, whose stories are not included and why, and how technology is creating new ways in which histories can be conveyed. Students explore different interpretations, draw conclusions, and develop reasoned historical arguments. They explore the historical concepts of continuity and change, cause and effect, perspective and interpretation, and contestability.

Stage 1 Modern History consists of the following topics:

  • Topic 1: Imperialism 
  • Topic 2: Decolonisation
  • Topic 3: Indigenous peoples
  • Topic 4: Social movements 
  • Topic 5: Revolution
  • Topic 6: Elective.

Each topic includes key ideas and concepts that provide a focus for study.

For a 10-credit subject, students study two or more topics, one of which may be an elective topic.

For a 20-credit subject, students study four or more topics, one of which may be an elective topic.

Skills of Historical Inquiry

The following skills are an essential part of the craft of historical inquiry. These skills are integrated into the learning and assessment requirements of Stage 1 Modern History.


  • analyse evidence of and explore the historical concepts of continuity and change, cause and effect, perspective and interpretation, and contestability
  • pose hypotheses and/or ask focusing questions to guide, and develop a coherent plan for, inquiry
  • research and select historical sources on the basis of relevance
  • evaluate the origin, reliability, usefulness, limitations, and contestable nature of sources
  • analyse, interpret, and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain a reasoned historical argument
  • recognise and evaluate differing perspectives on the past, such as different cultural perspectives, to understand the contestable nature of historical knowledge and interpretation, draw reasoned and supported conclusions, and develop empathetic understanding
  • interrogate the nature of evidence provided from different sources such as creative works (e.g. art, music, film); personal recollection; and social media, web pages, media, and other emerging technologies
  • communicate ideas and arguments appropriate to purpose and audience
  • compare and contrast evidence to interpret and understand the past and present, and make predictions about the future
  • practise ethical scholarship, including the use of appropriate referencing techniques.