Modern History atar course Year 11 syllabus important information



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Unit 2 – Movements for change in the 20th century

Unit description


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.

Learning outcomes


By the end of this unit, students:

  • understand the key features of the movements for change, including the conditions that gave rise to these movements, the motivations and role of individuals and groups, and the short-term and long-term consequences

  • understand the significance of these movements, the influence of ideas that were central in their development, and the methods employed

  • apply key concepts as part of an historical inquiry, including evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, empathy, perspectives and contestability

  • use historical skills to investigate these movements in the modern period; judge the reliability and usefulness of sources and the value of different kinds of evidence; explore different perspectives and interpretations; and use a range of evidence to support and communicate an historical argument.

Unit content


This unit includes the knowledge, understandings and skills described below.

Historical Skills

The following skills will be developed during this unit.



Chronology, terms and concepts

  • identify links between events to understand the nature and significance of causation, continuity and change over time

  • use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding

Historical questions and research

  • formulate, test and modify propositions to investigate historical issues

  • frame questions to guide inquiry and develop a coherent research plan for inquiry

  • identify, locate and organise relevant information from a range of primary and secondary sources

  • practise ethical scholarship when conducting research

Analysis and use of sources

  • identify the origin, purpose and context of historical sources

  • analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain an historical argument

  • evaluate the reliability, usefulness and contestable nature of sources to develop informed judgements that support an historical argument

Perspectives and interpretations

  • analyse and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past

  • evaluate critically different historical interpretations of the past, how they evolved, and how they are shaped by the historian’s perspective

  • evaluate contested views about the past to understand the provisional nature of historical knowledge and to arrive at reasoned and supported conclusions

Explanation and communication

  • develop texts that integrate appropriate evidence from a range of sources to explain the past and to support and refute arguments

  • communicate historical understanding by selecting and using text forms appropriate to the purpose and audience

  • apply appropriate referencing techniques accurately and consistently

Historical Knowledge and Understanding

Students study one of the following electives, which is to be taught with the requisite historical skills described as part of this unit.



  • Women’s movements

  • Recognition and rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Decolonisation

  • The civil rights movement in the USA

  • Workers’ movements

  • Nazism in Germany

  • Movements for peace and security post 1945

The impact of the following forces should be considered, where appropriate, throughout the unit:

  • economic

  • external forces/international relations

  • ideas

  • leadership

  • political

  • social/cultural.

Elective 1: Women’s movements

In delivering the content of this elective, refer to Australia and one other relevant Western society.



  • the legal and political entitlements of women in Australia and another Western society, for example, the USA, New Zealand, Great Britain or France, at the start of the 20th century, including their right to vote; their right to stand for Parliament; marriage law; and property law

  • the role of suffrage movements in the late 19th and 20th century, for example, the reasons why political participation was a key objective of the movement for women’s rights

  • the significance of World Wars I and II for women and the effect of international agreements,
    for example, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the status of women

  • the early contribution of important individuals, for example, Vida Goldstein and Emmeline Pankhurst and the subsequent influence of authors, influential women and activists, for example, Germaine Greer, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan and Kate Millett, on the changing nature of women’s demands after World War II

  • the post-war economic and technological improvements that changed women’s lives, for example, new technologies in the home; the rise of consumerism; and social networking

  • the post-war changes in social conditions affecting women, for example, birth control with the introduction of the contraceptive pill; improved educational, pay and employment opportunities; affirmative action; campaigns against violence, war and discrimination; and the development of child care services

  • the importance of legislation in securing changes for women since World War II, for example, the Maternity Leave Act 1973, the Family Law Act 1975, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Equal Opportunity for Women Act 1986 in Australia; Roe vs Wade (US); the failure of the United States to ratify the 19th amendment on Equal Rights; the Equality Act 2010 (UK); and the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (New Zealand)

  • the achievements and legacies of women’s movements, the continued efforts to achieve these rights for all women, and an assessment of the movement as a Western phenomenon

OR

Elective 2: Recognition and rights of Indigenous Peoples

In delivering the content of this elective, refer to Australia and to other 20th century societies where relevant.



  • the nature of the relationship of Indigenous Peoples with their land and their response to perceptions of, and feelings about, the arrival of the colonisers in Australia and one other society, for example, New Zealand, Canada, USA

  • the basis on which the colonists claimed sovereignty and imposed control, including conquest, treaty and the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’; and the consequences for the legal status and land rights of Indigenous peoples

  • the nature of Australian government policies and laws and their impact on Indigenous Peoples,
    for example, protection, assimilation (including the Stolen Generations), self-determination, the 1967 Referendum, the Woodward Royal Commission 1973/74, the Mabo decision 1992, the Native Title Act 1993, the Wik decision 1996, the Bringing Them Home Report 1997, the Apology 2008

  • the role of individuals, and groups who supported the movement for Indigenous recognition and rights, the methods they used and the resistance they encountered, for example, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Faith Bandler, Jessie Street, Charles Perkins, Eddie Mabo, Rob Riley, Pat Dodson, Mick Dodson, 1938 Day of Mourning, 1958 formation of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, 1965 Freedom Rides, 1966 Wave Hill protest, 1972 Tent Embassy

  • the economic, political and social challenges and opportunities Indigenous Peoples have faced,
    for example, the role of cultural and sporting activity in developing awareness in society

  • the achievements of Indigenous Peoples at the end of the 20th century, including the right to vote; land rights/native title; and attempt at reconciliation

  • the continued efforts to achieve greater recognition, reconciliation, civil rights, and improvements in education and health

OR

Elective 3: Decolonisation

In delivering the content of this elective, refer to one of the following countries: Algeria, Congo, India, Vietnam, Indonesia or East Timor.



  • the reasons for colonisation and how the country became colonised, including the different situations of the chosen countries, and the nature of those differences

  • conditions in the colony at the start of the 20th century, with specific reference to the living conditions of the colonisers and the colonised; the political structure in place; the aspirations of those living under colonisation; and the nature of the economy

  • the economic and moral challenges to Europe’s ability to maintain colonies that resulted from the impact of World Wars I and II

  • the emergence of movements for decolonisation; the key groups and individuals that pressed for liberation of the colony; the ideas that influenced them; and their struggle to achieve independence

  • the significance of international movements for change that supported the decolonisation process,
    for example, the emerging recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples; movements for international peace and cooperation; and the recognition of human rights

  • the outcomes of decolonisation, including government, democratic freedoms, economic development, education and health care

  • the key developments over time in the independent country, for example, increasing urbanisation; matters related to governance (single party or democratic representation); internal security; social equality; and independent foreign policy

OR

Elective 4: The civil rights movement in the USA

  • the circumstances of African Americans in the USA at the turn of the 20th century, including the legacy of the Civil War; the limitation of voting rights; the extent of segregation; and various forms of discrimination

  • the formation and role of groups supporting civil rights and their ideas for change, for example, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP) in 1909, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1941, the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) in 1951, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in 1960 and the Black Panthers (1960s–1970s)

  • the role and significance of individuals in the struggle for civil rights, for example, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy

  • the methods employed by civil rights movements in the USA across the period, including local and national boycotts, direct action and political agitation (for example, voter registration)

  • the nature and extent of the opposition to civil rights, with particular reference to the role of State governments and police authorities, the Ku Klux Klan, and the White Citizens’ Council

  • the significance of key events in bringing about social and political change, including the role of African Americans in World War II; the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the desegregation of Little Rock High School; the Freedom Rides; the March on Washington; and the ‘Mississippi Freedom Summer’ of 1964

  • the significance of legislative change nationally, including the United States Supreme Court decision in
    Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Act 1964, and the attitudes of presidents,
    for example, Franklin D Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson

  • the influence of the USA civil rights movement beyond the USA, including Australia

OR

Elective 5: Workers’ movements

In delivering the content of this elective, refer to Australia and one other relevant Western society.



  • the development of protest movements during the Industrial Revolution, for example, the Tolpuddle Martyrs; Chartists; and the International Workingmen’s Association; the formation of trade unions; moves to regulate employment; and demands for an eight-hour day

  • the impact of the 1890s depression and strikes on the formation of the Labor Party in Australia. The emergence of political parties (labor and non-labor) in Australia and other Western countries in the
    19th and 20th centuries; the role of trade unions in their formation; and the policies and methods of workers’ parties

  • workers’ advances in Australia in the years after Federation, including the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration (1904), the 1907 Harvester Judgement, and the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908

  • the different aims and objectives of international organisations, for example, Industrial Workers of the World (1905), the International Labour Organisation (1919), and the International Federation of Trade Unions (1919), and the methods they used to advance workers’ interests; Australian involvement in these international movements

  • specific achievements relating to workers’ rights, including the eight-hour day and the minimum wage; the significance of Articles 23 and 24 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); and the strategy of recognising inalienable workers’ rights on a global scale

  • the further advances to workers’ rights in Australia, including annual leave, sick leave, the 40-hour week, improvements in female wages leading to equal pay in 1969

  • the post-war economic boom and the increase in the wage standards of workers in the West, with particular reference to advances in Australia in the second half of the 20th century; and increased opportunities, including education, training and social mobility

  • the significance of changes to workers’ rights during the 20th century, including the provision of minimum wages; limitations on working hours; restrictions on child labour; the right to industrial arbitration; and changing rights and responsibilities of employers, and their role in supporting workers, including occupational safety and health

OR

Elective 6: Nazism in Germany

  • the economic, political and military circumstances in Germany at the end of WWI and how those circumstances contributed to the rise of Nazism

  • the democratic changes under the Weimar Government and reasons for its failure to deal with social, political and economic problems

  • the reasons for the Nazi Party’s rise to power, including the Treaty of Versailles, the impact of the Great Depression; the nature of Nazi ideology and hostility to communism; the ability of Hitler and the Nazi Party to utilise popular fears; and the Party’s organisational and tactical skills

  • the nature and effects of key aspects of the Nazi state, including military mobilisation, Lebensraum (living space), propaganda, terror and repression (SA and SS), the Hitler Youth, social policies on religion, women, education, trade unions, and the nature of opposition to the Nazis

  • Nazi policies of anti-Semitism and the promotion of the Aryan race, resulting in efforts to exterminate minorities in German-controlled lands and the Holocaust

  • the role and impact of significant individuals in Weimar and Nazi Germany, for example, Adolf Hitler, Gustav Stresemann, President von Hindenburg, Leni Riefenstahl, Alfred Krupp, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring and Albert Speer

  • the legacy of Nazism after WWII

OR

Elective 7: Movements for peace and security post 1945

  • causes of the threats to world security in in the post WWII environment, including austerity, border disputes, refugee movements, allied conferences and the formation of Israel in 1948

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

  • 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

  • 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)

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

  • 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)

  • 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

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


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