To be used in approved schools with Year 11 students only in 2005. Modern History Senior Syllabus

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5.3 Composite classes

The wide range of themes that are available in the syllabus, together with the developmental processes described in section 6, provide opportunities for teachers to develop a course of study to cater for combined Year 11 and Year 12 classes, combined campuses or other modes of delivery. The multi-level nature of such classes can benefit the teaching and learning process in these ways:

It allows teachers to teach the themes in any order and to revisit themes. The sample course organisations in section 5.4 are applicable to either single-level or multi-level classes.

It provides opportunities for a mix of multi-level group work and for independent work, as well as for peer teaching and for teamwork.

Learning experiences and assessment instruments can be structured to allow both Year 11 and Year 12 students to consider concepts at the level appropriate to their needs at various stages of development (for example, as described in section 6).

Within the one theme, students and teachers are able to select or develop inquiry topics and questions at different levels of complexity to suit the needs of Year 11 and Year 12 students.

5.4 Sample course organisations

A course of study must meet the minimum requirements as described in section 5.1, and must be developed so that students experience coherence in their studies. Chronologies, contexts and timelines should be clearly evident to students. The use of briefer studies such as background, comparative or linking studies, will help students to establish contexts, changes and continuities in their historical inquiries.

Themes and inquiry topics will be shaped by the focus questions that students develop under the inquiry aspects, namely:



backgrounds, changes and continuities: motives and causes

effects, interests and arguments

reflections and responses.

The aspects are described in more detail in section 6, Learning experiences, and in section 7, Themes and inquiry topics.

Some examples of possible course organisation for a two-year course of study in Modern History follow. All the examples meet the minimum requirement specified in section 5.1. However, the examples differ in:

the total number of themes and inquiry topics used

the number and placement of background, comparative and linking studies.

The choice of themes and inquiry topics within each example is for the purposes of illustration only, and in no way indicates or limits the choices that teachers and students may make.

Example A: four themes, six inquiry topics


Inquiry topics and studies

Time allocation

Introductory topic

“Seven lives”: the major features of the world in 1901

8 hours

History and the global perspective

“Appealing to the people”

(a) Inquiry topic: The role of popular art and music

(32 hrs)

(b) Bridging study: Effects of decolonisation (4 hrs)

36 hours

Studies of change

“Technology, work and the human spirit”

(a) Inquiry topic: Comparative study of liberal capitalism in the USA and state capitalism/communism in the USSR (24 hrs)

(b) Bridging study: Comparative study of labour/capital settlement in Australia (8 hrs)

(c) Comparative study: Fordism and Taylorism (2 Hrs), and impacts of technologies to 1950s (4 hrs)

(d) Inquiry topic: The digital revolution (32 hrs)

70 hrs

Studies of conflict

“Land and freedom”

(a) Background study: Colonial Australia (5 hrs)

(b) Inquiry topic: Comparison of two Australian campaigns — one racial, one environmental (32 hrs)

(c) Summary study: Current debates in Australia (3 hrs)

(d) Inquiry topic: Apartheid in South Africa (24 hrs)

(e) Comparative study: Other racial and environmental struggles (4 hrs)

68 hours

Studies of hope

“Half the world”

(a) Background studies: Late 19th century (2 hrs); Suffragist struggle in Britain; impact of WW2 (3 hrs); 1950s (1 hr), second wave feminism (4 hrs)

(b) Inquiry topic: Gender developments since 1980
(18 hrs)

(c) Comparative study: Men and women in non-Western nations (2 hrs)

30 hours

Concluding study

“Seven lives”: The lives of seven different people in the world today

8 hrs

Example B: eight themes, eight inquiry topics


Inquiry topics and studies

Time allocation

National histories

(a) Inquiry topic: Federation revisited: 1890s and 1990s

(b) Background study: The shape and shaping of the Australian Constitution

24 hours

Studies of conflict

(a) Inquiry topic: Over there but not so far away — Australia and the World Wars

(b) Comparative study: Australia enters the Vietnam War

30 hours

The history of ideas

(a) Inquiry topic: The theory and application of imperialism

28 hours

Studies of cooperation

(a) Background study: Europe after WW2

(b) Inquiry topic: The emergence of the European Union

28 hours

Studies of power

(a) Background study: The concept of the Cold War

(b) Inquiry Topic: The superpowers

30 hours

The individual in history

Inquiry topic: Evaluating the role and influence of an individual of your choice

30 hours

Testing an historical theory

(a) Contextual study: History and historians in time and space

(b) Inquiry topic: Whose history?

25 hours

History and the global perspective

(a) Background study: Concepts of globalism

(b) Recasting the nation-state

25 hours

Example C: three themes, four inquiry topics


Inquiry topics and studies

Time allocation

Studies of change

(a) Background study: Catalysts of change in the 20th century (Europe, Asia, Australia)

(b) Inquiry topic: Indonesia since independence

(c) Concluding study: Australia in the regional picture

35 hours

Studies of conflict

(a) Background study: International conflicts in the 20th century

(b) Inquiry topic: The Arab–Israeli conflict

(c) Concluding study: The role of the United Nations in regional conflict

85 hours

National Histories

(a) Background study: Getting together — Federation

(b) Inquiry topic: Changes in the legal and constitutional status of Indigenous Australians in the 20th century

(c) Inquiry topic: Changing loyalties; Australia’s relations with Great Britain and the United States

(d) Concluding study: Australian engagement in international affairs in the post–Cold War era.

100 hours

5.4.1 Contexts and coherence in a course of study

The role of bridging, comparative, background and linking studies in providing coherence to the course of study is illustrated in the expanded Example A below. This version takes the brief outline and fleshes out each theme so that the consistency and coherence of the choice of inquiry topics and other studies is evident.

Example A: four themes, six inquiry topics

Themes and Inquiry topics

Time allocation

Introductory study: “Seven lives”

This introductory study sets the scene for the two-year course by highlighting the major features of the world in 1901. Collections of historical sources are used to depict the lives of seven very different people: an industrial worker in the USA, a colonial administrator’s wife in India, an Aboriginal stockman in Australia, a peasant woman in Russia, a young Zulu boy in South Africa, an army officer in Japan, and a merchant seaman in the Pacific. The seven lives are used to introduce the themes of nationalism, imperialism, militarism, industrialisation and mercantilism. Students are invited to speculate about which seven lives could be used to exemplify the world of 2001. The pitfalls of attempting such a representation are raised.

8 hours

Theme: History and the global perspective

Inquiry topic: “Appealing to the people”

This topic helps students develop an overview of some major historical developments of the 20th century. The INQUIRY TOPIC (32 hours) focuses on the ways in which popular art and music have been used to appeal to people’s values, aspirations and emotions. The developments studied are World War 1, the “Roaring Twenties”, Nazism, World War 2, post-war prosperity, the Cold War, global consumerism.

Students are encouraged to see the western emphasis in the inquiry topic, and to think about the people and places that have not been represented in this overview of the century. This leads to a bridging study (4 hrs) of the processes of decolonisation and their effects on the world of the past century.

36 hours

Theme: Studies of change: “Technology, work and the human spirit”

Inquiry topics:

Liberal capitalism in the USA and state capitalism/communism in the USSR

The digital revolution

This study focuses first on different ways in which societies can be organised in attempts to meet people’s aspirations for meaningful and secure lives. The first inquiry topic (24 hrs) is a comparative study of liberal capitalism in the USA from c. 1880 to 1941 and state capitalism/communism in the USSR from 1917 to 1941. This includes study of liberal, free enterprise, socialist and Marxist theories, an evaluation of the extent to which those theories were embodied in the US and Soviet cases, and a comparison of the economic, social and cultural effects in each country.

A comparative study (8 hrs) highlights the distinctive character of the labour/capital settlement in Australia, focusing on government ownership of key enterprises, protectionism, unionism, the basic wage, the welfare state, the Accord, deregulation and globalisation.

Next, two background studies on the development of Fordism and Taylorism (2 hrs) and the impacts of industrial, communications and domestic technologies up until the 1950s (4 hrs) provide context for an inquiry topic (32 hrs) on the digital revolution of the last part of the 20th century. Issues include the emergence of post-industrial forms of work, and the technologisation of all major economic, social, cultural and administrative institutions and practices. Questions are raised about global and local equity in relation to access to new technologies.

70 hours

Theme: Studies of conflict: “Land and freedom”

Inquiry topics:

Two Australian campaigns — one racial, one environmental

Apartheid in South Africa

This theme is pursued through a comparison of changing attitudes and practices in relation to issues of race and environment. A background study (5 hrs) focuses on colonial Australia, where the dominant ideology embraced parallel beliefs in European dominance of Indigenous peoples and of the environment. Theories of race and of human relationships with nature are explored, as are Indigenous beliefs about land and its uses.

An inquiry topic (32 hours) focuses on a comparison of two notable Australian campaigns (e.g. the “freedom rides” in north-west NSW and the Franklin Dam struggle). Issues include ideological debates, conflicting assumptions and interests, the roles of governments, the processes of popular struggle. Students compare and contrast the campaigns, and evaluate their significance in helping shape the nature of Australia today.

A summary study (3 hrs) overviews the current state of race and environment debates in Australia.

An inquiry topic (24 hrs) focuses on the struggle to end the Apartheid system in South Africa and to establish a multi-racial democracy there. Issues of environment and resources are examined, and comparisons and contrasts drawn between Australia and South Africa.

A comparative study (4 hrs) highlights other significant historical examples of racial and environmental struggles

68 hours

[Continues over]

Theme: Studies of hope: “Half the world”

Inquiry topic: Gender developments since 1980.

This theme is pursued initially through a series of background studies on the dominant masculinist culture of Europe and Australia in the late 19th century (2 hrs); on first-wave feminism, focusing on the Suffragist struggle in Britain and the developments in the period 1928–1945, including reference to the impact of World War 2 on women’s lives (3 hrs); on the 1950s, focusing on the idea of woman as home-maker in the emerging commodified consumer culture of post-war Western prosperity (1 hr); and one on second-wave feminism (the women’s liberation movement) (4 hrs).

This leads to an inquiry topic (18 hrs) on gender developments in western societies since 1980, focusing on third-wave feminism, the “backlash”, postmodern diversity and issues of masculinity (20 hrs). Then follows a comparative study (2 hrs) of the current roles of men and women in non-western, developing nations.

30 hours

Concluding study: “Seven lives”

This concluding study mirrors the introductory study in depicting the lives of seven very different people in the world today. Students will decide which seven lives should be profiled, and which themes they should reflect. Again, the pitfalls of attempting such a representation are raised.

8 hrs

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