Modern History Stage 6 Syllabus Original published version updated

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3 Formal attempts at peacemaking 1985–1997

  • aims, policies and tactics within nationalist and loyalist organisations

  • consequences of the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement

  • significance of the 1994 paramilitary ceasefires

  • new approaches to the old problem of Northern Ireland: Tony Blair (UK) and Bertie Ahearn (Republic of Ireland)

4 A lasting peace?

  • reasons for the Good Friday Agreement 1998

  • support and opposition

  • the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation in 1998

  • assessment of the changes in Anglo-Irish relations 1968–1998

Option B: Conflict in Europe 1935–1945
Principal focus: Students investigate key features and issues in the history of the conflict in Europe 1935–1945.
Key features and issues:

  • causes of the conflict

  • aims and strategies of the Allied and Axis powers

  • turning points of the war

  • impact of war on civilians

  • origins, nature and impact of the Holocaust

  • reasons for the Allied victory

Students learn about:
1 Growth of European tensions

  • dictatorships in Germany and Italy

  • the League of Nations and collapse of collective security: Abyssinia, the Spanish Civil War

  • Britain, France and the policy of appeasement: an assessment

  • significance of the Nazi–Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

2 Course of the European war

  • German advances: the fall of Poland, the Low Countries and France

  • the air war and its effects: The Battle of Britain and the Blitz, the bombing of Germany

  • Operation Barbarossa, the Battle of Stalingrad and the significance of the Russian campaign

  • Battle of El Alamein and the significance of the conflict in North Africa to the European War

3 Civilians at war

  • social and economic effects of the war on civilians in Britain and EITHER Germany OR the Soviet Union

  • Nazi racial policies: the Holocaust and the persecution of minorities

4 End of the conflict

Option C: Conflict in Indochina 1954–1979
Principal focus: Students investigate key features and issues in the history of the conflict in Indochina 1954–1979.
Key features and issues:

  • nature and role of nationalism

  • nature and role of communism

  • nature and consequences of US involvement

  • strategies and tactics

  • impact of the war on civilians in Indochina

  • attempts at peacemaking

  • reasons for communist victory

Students learn about:
1 Indochina after the French

  • consequences of the Vietnamese victory against the French

  • consequences of the Geneva Peace Agreement for the Vietnamese people to 1964

  • political, social, economic and military developments within North and South Vietnam

2 The USA and Indochina

  • political and social issues in Indochina by 1960

  • nature and development of US policy towards Indochina generally and Vietnam in particular

  • impact of direct US military involvement in Vietnam and the consequences for Vietnam and Cambodia

3 The Second Indochina War

  • nature and effectiveness of the strategy and tactics employed by the North Vietnamese Army and the National Liberation Front (NLF), and by the South Vietnamese and
    the USA

  • impact of the 1968 Tet Offensive

  • impact of the war on civilians in Indochina

  • impact of the spread of the Vietnam War to Cambodia

  • nature and significance of anti-war movements in the USA

  • the defeat of the South Vietnamese forces

4 Pol Pot’s Regime

  • rise to power of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia

  • nature, aims and methods of Pol Pot

Option D: Conflict in the Pacific 1937–1951
Principal focus: Students investigate key features and issues in the history of the conflict in the Pacific 1937–1951.
Key features and issues:

  • imperialism and responses to it

  • nature and impact of nationalism

  • Japanese and Allied strategies

  • impact of the war on the home fronts of Japan and Australia

  • impact of the war in Occupied Territories in South-East Asia

  • use of the A-bomb

  • reasons for the Japanese defeat

  • aims and consequences of the Allied Occupation of Japan

Students learn about:
1 Growth of Pacific tensions

  • economic and political issues in the Pacific by 1937

  • Japanese foreign policy 1937–1941

  • US and British policies in the Pacific 1937–1941

  • strategic and political reasons for bombing Pearl Harbour

2 Course of the Pacific War

  • Japanese advance 1941–1942 and the impact of the fall of the Philippines, Singapore, Burma and the Dutch East Indies

  • turning points in the war: Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, Battle of Guadalcanal, New Guinea

  • strategies used by Allied forces against Japan 1942–1945

3 Civilians at war

  • social, political and economic effects on civilians in occupied territories in
    South-East Asia

  • life under Occupation: collaboration and resistance, the use of slave labour

  • the effect of the war on the home fronts in Japan and Australia

4 End of the conflict

  • reasons for the use of the A-bomb and the subsequent controversy over its use

  • reasons for the Japanese defeat

  • War Crimes Tribunals and the status of the Emperor

  • Allied Occupation of Japan to 1951

Option E: The Arab–Israeli Conflict 1948–1996
Principal focus: Students investigate key features and issues in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict 1948–1996.
Key features and issues:

  • origins and development of the conflict

  • nature and impact of nationalism

  • changing Palestinian and Israeli responses to the conflict

  • nature and consequences of Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories

  • terrorism/violence and their impact on Israeli and Palestinian communities

  • attempts at peacemaking

  • international involvement in the conflict

Students learn about:
1 Origins of tension

  • the War of Independence (Israeli) or The Catastrophe (Palestinian) 1948

  • consequences of the war for Israel and the Palestinians to 1967

  • political and social issues in Arab–Israeli relations in 1967

2 War and peace

  • causes, course and consequences of the 1967 (Six Day) War

  • creation, aims, methods and effectiveness of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) 1964–1974

  • causes, course and consequences of the 1973 (Yom Kippur) War, including the Camp David Treaty

  • role and objectives of the superpowers in relation to events in the Middle East

3 The Occupied Territories and Lebanon

  • attitudes and policies of the Israeli Labour and Likud parties towards the Occupied Territories

  • rise and significance of the Israeli settler movement in the Occupied Territories

  • reasons for the Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982

  • the significance of the war for Israel and the Palestinians

4 The peace process

  • the Intifada 1987–1994: Palestinian resistance and Israeli response

  • successes and setbacks in the peace process 1987–1996

  • support and opposition for the peace process among Israelis and Palestinians

  • significance of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the election of Netanyahu
    in 1996

Option F: The Cold War 1945–1991
Principal focus: Students investigate key features and issues in the history of the Cold War 1945–1991.
Key features and issues:

  • origins and development of the Cold War

  • influence of the ideologies of communism and capitalism on the Cold War

  • origins, nature and impact of détente on the Cold War

  • changing policies, strategies and responses to the Cold War

  • impact of crises on changing superpower relations

  • the arms race and disarmament

  • reasons for the end of the Cold War

Students learn about:
1 Origins of the Cold War 1945–1953

  • 1945 conferences and the emergence of the superpowers

  • emerging differences between the superpowers

  • the Truman Doctrine and its consequences

  • impact of the early crises: the Berlin blockade and airlift, China becoming communist in 1949 and the Korean War

2 Development of the Cold War to 1968

  • policy of containment, domino theory and the emergence of peaceful co-existence

  • superpower rivalry: the arms race and space race

  • nature and impact of crises: Berlin Wall 1961, Cuba 1962, Czechoslovakia 1968

3 Détente

  • economic and political reasons for détente

  • geopolitical developments: Vietnam, Sino-Soviet split, the Middle East

  • features and consequences of détente

4 Renewal and end of the Cold War

  • Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its impact

  • US attitudes and policies under Reagan

  • Soviet attitudes and policies under Gorbachev

  • disarmament agreements 1987–1991

  • collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR

Option G: The United Nations as Peacekeeper 1946–2001
Principal focus: Students investigate the key features and issues in the history of the United Nations as peacekeeper 1946–2001.
Key features and issues:

  • origins and goals of the UN

  • tensions between internationalism and national sovereignty

  • role and effectiveness of the UN in diplomacy and peacekeeping

  • role and effectiveness of the UN’s humanitarian agencies

  • enforcement of UN resolutions

  • contribution of the UN to disarmament

  • effect of the Cold War on UN activities

  • changing nature and role of the UN

Students learn about:
1 Origins and early challenges of the United Nations

  • reasons for the creation of the UN

  • key provisions and articles of the Charter of the UN and the Declaration of Human Rights

  • the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretariat and the role of the veto

  • impact of the creation of Israel, Communist China and the Korean War

2 The development of the UN

  • effect of the Cold War on UN activities

  • pursuit of nuclear disarmament

  • impact of Third World countries and changing membership on the UN

  • assessment of the role and impact of the UN as international peacekeeper in any TWO of the following conflicts: Angola, Cambodia, Congo, Cyprus, Arab-Israeli conflicts 1967 and 1973, Kashmir, Nicaragua, West Papua/Irian Jaya

3 Challenges to peace

  • major challenges facing the international community: racism, refugees, child soldiers, landmines, poverty, gender inequity, war crimes, illiteracy, AIDS

  • role and effectiveness of the UN and its agencies in dealing with poverty, racism, refugees and AIDS

4 The UN since the end of the Cold War

  • debate over the role and structure of the UN since the end of the Cold War

  • nature of the relationship with major powers and alliances

  • continuing efforts to promote disarmament and prevent nuclear proliferation

  • assessment of the role and impact of the UN as international peacekeeper in any TWO of the following conflicts: the Gulf War and its aftermath; the former Yugoslavia; Somalia 1993 and Rwanda 1994; East Timor 1999–2001

11 Assessment and Reporting
Advice on appropriate assessment practice in relation to the Modern History syllabus is contained in Assessment and Reporting in Modern History Stage 6. That document provides general advice on assessment in Stage 6 as well as the specific requirements for the Preliminary and HSC courses. The document contains:

  • suggested components and weightings for the internal assessment of the Preliminary course

  • mandatory components and weightings for the internal assessment of the HSC course

  • the HSC examination specifications, which describe the format of the external HSC examination.

The document and other resources and advice related to assessment in Stage 6 Modern History are available on the Board’s website at

12 Post-school Opportunities
The study of Modern History provides students with knowledge, understanding and skills that form a valuable foundation for a range of courses at university and other tertiary institutions.
In addition, the study of Modern History assists students to prepare for employment and full and active participation as citizens. In particular, there are opportunities for students to gain recognition in vocational education and training. Teachers and students should be aware of these opportunities.
Recognition of Student Achievement
Wherever appropriate, the skills and knowledge acquired by students in their study of HSC courses should be recognised by industry and training organisations. Recognition of student achievement means that students who have satisfactorily completed HSC courses will not be required to repeat their learning in courses in TAFE NSW or other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
Registered Training Organisations, such as TAFE NSW, provide industry training and issue qualifications within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
The degree of recognition available to students in each subject is based on the similarity of outcomes between HSC courses and industry training packages endorsed within the AQF. Training packages are documents that link an industry’s competency standards to AQF qualifications. More information about industry training packages can be found on the National Training Information Service (NTIS) website (
Recognition by TAFE NSW
TAFE NSW conducts courses in a wide range of industry areas, as outlined each year in the TAFE NSW Handbook. Under current arrangements, the recognition available to Modern History students in relevant courses conducted by TAFE is described in the HSC/TAFE Credit Transfer Guide. This guide is produced by the Board of Studies NSW and TAFE NSW and is distributed annually to all schools and colleges. Teachers should refer to this guide and be aware of the recognition available to their students through the study of Modern History. This information can be found on the TAFE NSW website (
Recognition by other Registered Training Organisations
Students may also negotiate recognition into a training package qualification with another Registered Training Organisation. Each student will need to provide the RTO with evidence of satisfactory achievement in Modern History so that the degree of recognition available can be determined.
13 Glossary
anarchism an ideology that argues a society can be run without rules or a government and that the abolition of these things will lead to freedom, equality and justice
anti-ecumenism opposed to the doctrines and practice of the ecumenical movement and hence to the unity of the Christian churches
anti-Semitism hostility or hatred towards peoples of Semitic origins but is used to mean anti-Jewish
apartheid a policy of racial segregation, exploitation and oppression developed by white minority South African governments
appeasement a policy attributed to European governments in the 1930s that met the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany by offering concessions
autocracy absolute rule or government by one person
Bolshevism an ideology advocating the seizure of power by a revolutionary elite in the name of the proletariat
capitalism an economic system that encourages individuals to make profits through investments and the private ownership of goods, property and the means of production, distribution and exchange
case studies case studies are inquiry-based investigations into key features, issues, individuals, groups, events or concepts in modern history. They are oriented towards the problems and issues of investigating the past.
Case studies in the Preliminary course are intended to provide students with opportunities to:

  • study the various ways in which historians perceive, investigate, record and construct the past, the types of questions they ask, the explanations they give and the issues they raise

  • understand, question, analyse and interpret sources.

collectivisation the socialist policy of joining together small farms and other enterprises under group or state ownership

communism a theory or system of social organisation promoting shared ownership of property and the means of production by the community as a whole or the state
communalism a theory that a nation should be organised around different regional communities and that a nation is merely a federation of such states.
In India these communities are mostly religious.
conservatism opposition to radical change with a tendency to support existing institutions
consumerism an aspect of capitalism that encourages the consumption of goods and services
containment a specific US Cold War foreign policy aimed at limiting the spread
of communism
decolonisation the process of colonies being freed from imperial rule through their own initiatives or the granting of self-government
democracy society based on the idea of equality where the government is run by the people or their freely elected representatives
détente easing the strained relations between the super powers during the
Cold War
evidence the information that tends to prove or disprove a conclusion. It can be used to establish a fact or to support an argument
feminism a doctrine or movement advocating equal rights for women in social and political life
fundamentalism any religious movement that stresses rigid adherence to literal interpretations of its religious texts
globalisation the process of bringing together all of the world’s economies for the purposes of trade and a common culture

intervention where a government involves itself directly and actively in the regulation of economic and business activities

Guomindang nationalist political party in China that became the government from 1927 to 1949
historiography the study of how history is constructed. It involves the critical analysis and evaluation of the reliability of evidence, as well as the way history has been written in the past
ideology a framework of beliefs that guides actions
imperialism where one country possesses, governs or controls other countries beyond its own borders
industrialisation the process of moving towards large-scale mechanised industry, usually accompanied by urbanisation, rather than agriculture, crafts and trading
internationalism the promotion of the belief in global cooperation rather than
national rivalry
interpretation a way of understanding and explaining what has happened in the past. The discipline of history acknowledges that there is often more than one view of what has happened in the past

Intifada an uprising conducted by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories against the state of Israel
isolationism a view in American foreign policy that argues that the best interests of the United States lay in avoiding international entanglements
Konfrontasi foreign policy conducted by the Indonesian government during the 1960s towards Malaysia and Singapore
liberal democracy a form of democracy where majority rule is underpinned by liberal rights such as freedom of speech, assembly and religious beliefs, and the right to private property, privacy and due legal process
liberalism commitment to individual freedoms such as freedom of trade, speech, press, association and religion
Maoism an ideology expounded by Mao Zedong in China that emphasised the revolutionary role of the peasants in achieving communism
Marxism a political and economic theory developed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engles that called for the abolition of private property and emphasised the role of the state in providing work and benefits for all leading eventually to a socialist order and a classless society
militarism the belief that strong armed forces, discipline and obedience will solve political and social problems
modernisation the process of becoming modern, accepting change and modern values
multiculturalism a policy of valuing and maintaining the distinctive identities of all cultural groups within a society
nationalism the promotion of the interests of one’s own nation above all others

sovereignty supreme and independent power or authority that is claimed by a state or cultural or ethnic group

New Order term used to describe the policies of the Suharto government in promoting the values of national unity, modernisation and capitalism in Indonesia
Pancasila the five values that formed the basis of the Indonesian state after independence: faith in one god, humanism, nationalism, representative government and social justice
pan-nationalism nationalism that crosses national borders
perspective a point of view or standpoint from which historical events, problems and issues can be analysed, eg a gender perspective (either masculine or feminine) on the past
Prohibition a policy developed by American governments during the 1920s that made the sale of alcohol illegal
proletariat the working or unpropertied class who rely on the sale of their labour for an income
racism the belief in the superiority of one race of people over others
regionalism a movement that developed in Indonesia’s provinces emphasising the need for each region to maintain its own identity and independence
revolution sudden and radical change in society; a complete overthrow of an established government or political system
Satyagraha ‘truth force’ or ‘holding on to the truth’ – a non-violent method of resistance developed in India by Mahatma Gandhi to ensure political or social change
sectarianism the reinforcement of divisions between religious groups
self-determination the right of each group of people to decide their own identity, culture and political and social systems without reference to the wishes of any other nation
socialism a system where wealth, land and property are owned and controlled by the community as a whole rather than being privately owned
source any written or non-written material that can be used to investigate the past. A source becomes ‘evidence’ (see above) when it is used to support or refute a position
Stalinism a system of government originating in the Soviet Union under
Joseph Stalin
terrorism the use and threat of violence for political purposes
Third World term used during the Cold War that referred to developing nations that did not identify themselves with either the USA or Soviet blocs
totalitarianism system of government where the state seeks to gain complete
control over its citizens and does not recognise or tolerate parties of differing opinion
urbanisation a process, usually accompanied by industrialisation, where people move from traditional life in the countryside to towns and cities
warlordism a system where power is controlled by regional military leaders and the central government has broken down, especially in China 1916–1928
zaibatsu huge economic and industrial organisations formed by a few Japanese families after the Meiji Restoration
Zionism a movement formerly for re-establishing, now for advancing, the Jewish national state of Israel

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