Sample Course Outline

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Modern History

ATAR Year 11

Unit 1 – Elective 6


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Sample course outline

Modern History – ATAR Year 11

Unit 1 – Elective 6: The Meiji Restoration – Japan (1853–1911)


Key teaching points



  • introductory work on Japanese culture

  • key ideas


The Tokugawa Shogunate

Overview of the period:

  • the feudal system in Japan

  • the Shogan

  • political and economic power

  • political, economic and social change over the period


Background causes of the Meiji Restoration

Task 1: Source analysis


Significant events leading to the Meiji Restoration

  • the unequal treaties, including the Treaty of Kanagawa and the Harris Treaty, and the role of Townsend Harris

  • role of the shi-shi and the Sonno Movement

  • the Satsuma-Choshu alliance and the roles of Saigo Takamori, Kido Takayoshi and Okubo Toshimichi

  • restoration of the Emperor Meiji – from feudalism to constitutional monarchy

Task 2 Part A: Historical inquiry – the inquiry process

Task 2 Part B: Validation essay


Significant changes after the Meiji Restoration

  • key ideas of militarism, including fukoku kyohei (rich country, strong military), modernisation/westernisation and bummei kaika (civilisation and enlightenment)

  • the development of constitutional, legal and political reform, including the Charter Oath, Japan’s first constitution (Seitaisho), the end of feudalism and the Meiji Constitution

  • the role of Ito Hirobumi and the genro

  • modernisation and westernisation of the navy and military, including the introduction of conscription

  • the demise of the Samurai, including the Satsuma Rebellion

  • modernisation of industry through the importance of strategic industries, modern communications, the new land tax and the rise of the zaibatsu

  • changes to education, including the Rescript on Education

  • the role of Fukuzawa Yukichi as a leading moderniser in Japan’s cultural revolution

  • social/cultural changes, including religion, fashion, food and other aspects

Task 3: Explanation – essay


International relations

  • how change impacted on international relations, including:

  • the significance of these events

Task 4: Source analysis


Significance of the Meiji Restoration

  • within Japan

  • impact on other Asian nations

  • how Japan was viewed by the West

Task 5: Explanation – short answer test


Task 6: Semester 1 examination

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