Modern History atar course Year 11 syllabus important information

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This course is organised into a Year 11 syllabus and a Year 12 syllabus. The cognitive complexity of the syllabus content increases from Year 11 to Year 12.

Structure of the syllabus

The Year 11 syllabus is divided into two units, each of one semester duration, which are typically delivered as a pair. The notional time for each unit is 55 class contact hours.

Unit 1 – Understanding the modern world

This unit provides an introduction to significant developments in the modern period that have defined the modern world, and the ideas that underpinned them, such as liberty, equality and fraternity.

Unit 2 – Movements for change in the 20th century

This unit examines significant movements developed in response to the ideas studied in Unit 1 that brought about change in the modern world and that have been subject to political debate. The unit focuses on the ways in which individuals, groups and institutions challenge authority and transform society.

Each unit includes:

a unit description – a short description of the focus of the unit

learning outcomes – a set of statements describing the learning expected as a result of studying the unit

unit content – the content to be taught and learned

electives – the content is delivered through one of seven electives, each of which focuses on a particular movement or development.

Organisation of content

The Modern History ATAR course continues to develop student learning in history through the two strands of Historical Knowledge and Understanding, and Historical Skills. This strand organisation provides an opportunity to integrate content in flexible and meaningful ways.

Historical Knowledge and Understanding

This strand focuses on knowing about and understanding key events, ideas, movements, developments and people that have shaped the modern world. Historical understanding is developed through concepts that define history as a discipline, including evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, empathy, perspectives, and contestability.

Historical Skills

This strand presents historical skills, including skills that are used in historical inquiry. There are five key skill areas that build on those learned in the Year 7–10 History curriculum and which continue to be developed in the Year 11 and 12 Modern History ATAR syllabuses. These include chronology, terms and concepts; historical questions and research; analysis and use of sources; perspectives and interpretations; and explanation and communication. There is an emphasis through this strand on the development of informed and defensible responses to inquiry questions through a critical use of sources.

Relationship between the strands

The two strands are interrelated and the content enables integration of the strands in the development of a teaching and learning program. The Historical Knowledge and Understanding strand provides the contexts through which particular skills are to be developed. The same set of historical skills is included in each of the units to provide a common focus for the teaching and learning of content in the Historical Knowledge and Understanding strand.

Progression from the Year 7–10 curriculum

This syllabus continues to develop student learning in history through the same strands used in the
Year 7–10 History curriculum, although in the Historical Knowledge and Understanding strand in
Years 9–10, there is a focus on the history of Australia and the modern world, particularly world events and movements of significance in Australia’s social, economic and political development. It focuses principally on the 20th century and continues to provide opportunities to study world history, including Australian history, in more depth. This includes topics related to revolutionary change, struggles for civil rights, the history of other nations, tensions and conflicts of international significance, and Asian and Australian history.

This syllabus also continues to develop the skills of historical inquiry, with a greater focus on skills associated with critical thinking, the analysis of sources, historical interpretation and contestability.

Representation of the general capabilities

The general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that will assist students to live and work successfully in the 21st century. Teachers may find opportunities to incorporate the capabilities into the teaching and learning program for the Modern History ATAR course. The general capabilities are not assessed unless they are identified within the specified unit content.


Literacy is of fundamental importance in the study of the Modern History ATAR course. Students access historical content through a variety of print, oral, visual, spatial and electronic forms, including letters, speeches, biographies, photographs, films, artefacts, and archived material. They learn to interpret and extrapolate meaning from a variety of sources to identify evidence. They analyse and evaluate texts for authority, reliability, relevance and accuracy. Students have opportunities to create a wide range of texts to communicate, explore, discuss, explain and argue a point of view, selecting and employing text structure and language knowledge to express their thoughts and ideas logically and fluently, supported by evidence. They learn to monitor their own language use for accuracy in the use of historical terms, clarity of ideas and explanations, conciseness of expression and use language effectively to articulate a position.


Numeracy is useful in the historical inquiry process, which requires students to recognise patterns and relationships chronologically and spatially through the use of scaled timelines and maps. Students have opportunities to support their views with data, some of which is numerical in nature. They develop numeracy capability when they analyse, interpret and draw conclusions from statistical information, for example, in relation to change over time.

Information and communication technology capability

Information and communication technology (ICT) capability is important in the inquiry process, particularly in relation to investigation, analysis and communication. Students use digital tools and strategies to locate, access, process and analyse information. They use ICT skills and understandings to investigate and identify the provenance and credibility of evidence and to communicate historical information. Students have opportunities to scrutinise websites and the interpretations and representations of the past they convey, including how and why such sites are constructed, the audiences they serve and their goals in, for example, commemoration, preservation, education and scholarship. They develop an understanding of the issues involved in the use of ICT when practising ethical scholarship as part of the historical inquiry process.

Critical and creative thinking

Critical and creative thinking is integral to the historical inquiry process. There are opportunities for students to delve deeply and broadly into the implications of any missing or questionable information in their investigation of historical topics. The demands of historical inquiry include the ability to pose intelligent questions, interrogate, select and cross-reference sources, and develop interpretations based on an assessment of the evidence and reasoning. Students identify possible weaknesses in their own positions, and analyse, evaluate and synthesise alternative interpretations and representations of the past.

Personal and social capability

Personal and social capability skills are developed and practised in the Modern History ATAR course by students enhancing their communication skills and participating in teamwork. Students have opportunities to work, both collaboratively in teams and also independently, as part of their learning and research in the course. Students develop advanced research, and presentation skills to express and justify their views effectively to others.Through the study of individuals and groups in the past and their source work in particular, students develop their ability to appreciate the perspectives and experiences of others through the practice of empathy. Students develop increasing social awareness through the study of relationships between individuals and diverse social groups in the modern world.

Ethical understanding

Ethical understanding provides opportunities for students to explore and understand the diverse perspectives and circumstances that shaped the actions and possible motivations of people in the past, compared with those of today. Students have opportunities, both independently and collaboratively, to explore the values, beliefs and principles that were the basis for the judgements and actions of people in the past.

Intercultural understanding

Intercultural understanding is a vital part of historical learning in the Modern History ATAR course. Students explore the different beliefs and values of a range of cultural groups, and develop an appreciation of the diversity in the modern period. They have opportunities to develop an understanding of the nature, causes and consequences of conflict, dispossession and interdependence. Students develop an understanding of different contemporary perspectives, the historical contexts for those perspectives, their historical influence on the relationships between different groups within society, and how they contribute to individual and group actions in the contemporary world.

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