Stage 2 | Subject outline | Version control

Modern History Stage 2
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024.
Accredited in July 2017 for teaching at Stage 2 from 2018. 

Stage 2 | Subject outline | Content


Stage 2 Modern History is a 20-credit subject.

Students study one topic from ‘Modern nations’ and one topic from ‘The world since 1945’, selected from the following list of topics:

Modern nations The world since 1945

Topic 1: Australia (1901–56)

Topic 2: United States of America (1919–45)

Topic 3: Germany (1918–48)

Topic 4: The Soviet Union (1945-1991)

Topic 5: Indonesia (1942–2005)

Topic 6: China (1949–1999)

Topic 7: The changing world order (1945–  )

Topic 8: Australia’s relationship with Asia and the South Pacific Region (1945–  )

Topic 9: National self-determination in 
South-East Asia (1945–  )

Topic 10: The struggle for peace in the 
Middle East (1945–  )

Topic 11: Challenges to peace and security (1945–  )

Topic 12: The United Nations and establishment of a global perspective (1945–  )

In their study of a topic from ‘Modern nations’, students investigate the concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘state’, and the social, political, and economic changes that shaped the development of a selected nation. Through their study, they develop insights into the characteristics of modern nations, crises, and challenges that have confronted them, ways in which nations have dealt with internal divisions and external challenges, and the different paths that nations have taken.

In their study of a topic from ‘The world since 1945’, students investigate the political, social, and economic interactions among nations and states, and the impact of these interactions on national, regional, and/or international development. They consider how some emerging nations and states sought to impose their influence and power, and how others sought to forge their own destiny.

Students complete two historical skills assessments based on the topic they have studied from ‘Modern nations’, for the school assessment. They also complete an argumentative essay based on the topic from ‘Modern nations’, in the external examination.

Students explore relationships among nations, states, and groups, and examine some significant and distinctive features of the world since 1945, to understand the contemporary world.

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 the sources, whose history they tell, whose stories are not included and why, and how technology is creating new spaces in which histories can be conveyed. They 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.

Note: for the purposes of study of this subject, the term ‘groups’ encompasses both formal and informal groups of people, including, but not limited to, societies and organisations.

Students complete three historical skills assessments based on the topic they have studied for ‘The world since 1945’, for the school assessment. They also complete a historical study based on an aspect of the world since c.1750.

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 2 Modern History.


  • analyse historical evidence and explore historical concepts 
  • 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 to make predictions about the future
  • practise ethical scholarship, including the use of appropriate referencing techniques. 

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