The study of VCE History assists students to understand themselves, others and their world, and broadens their perspective by examining a range of people, groups, events, ideas and movements. Students further develop their social, political, economic and cultural understanding of different societies. They also explore the historical thinking concepts of continuity and change, cause and consequence and significance. As we can never know the whole past, historical knowledge rests on the interpretation of sources that are used as evidence and students will analyse different perspectives and interpretations of the past. The study of history fosters the ability to think and read critically and empathetically, to ask searching questions, to engage in independent research, and to construct arguments about the past based on evidence. The skills and understanding that students develop when studying senior History are invaluable to tertiary education, many careers and to decision-making in the present. 

Students undertaking either of the Unit 1 and 2 History courses will develop skills and knowledge applicable to both History Revolutions Units 3 and 4 and Global Politics Units 3 and 4. There are no pre-requisites for entry to Units 1 or 2.

Ancient History – Units 1 and 2  (NOT OFFERED IN 2021)

Unit 1: Ancient Mesopotamia   (NOT OFFERED IN 2021)

In this unit, students explore Ancient Mesopotamia. The lands between the rivers Tigris and the Euphrates have been described as the ‘cradle of civilisation’. Although this view is now contested in ancient history and archaeology, the study of Ancient Mesopotamia provides important insights about the growth of cities. Students investigate the creation of city-states and empires and the development of writing, agriculture, astronomy, medicine and political institutions. Change and continuity between the First Babylonian Dynasty (1900 BC) and the Akkadian Empire (612 BC) and the reasons for the rise and fall of empires in Mesopotamia will be explored. This unit highlights the importance of primary sources (the material record and written sources) to historical inquiry about the origins of civilisation and students will also consider scientific methods used by archaeologists.

1. Source Analysis (25%)
2. Essay or Historical Inquiry (25%)
2. Coursework (25%)
3. Examination (25%)

Unit 2: Ancient Egypt or Early China (at teacher’s discretion) 

Ancient Egypt:  (NOT OFFERED IN 2021)

Ancient Egypt gave rise to a civilisation that endured for approximately three thousand years. Unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt was not threatened by its neighbours for the greater part of its history. The Nile served as the lifeblood of urban settlements in Upper and Lower Egypt. Kingdoms rose, flourished and fell around the banks of this great river. Students will explore the distribution of power in Old Kingdom Egypt and the First Intermediate Period, the social, political and economic reasons for the construction of pyramids, and Egyptian beliefs concerning the afterlife. They will also consider the use and representation of power in Middle Kingdom Egypt and the Second Intermediate Period. This unit highlights the importance of primary sources (the material record and written sources) to historical inquiry about Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt.


Early China:  (NOT OFFERED IN 2021)

Early China refers to what is known as the pre-imperial and early imperial periods. Historians and archaeologists refer to the pre-imperial period (up to 221 BC) as Ancient China. This unit begins with Ancient China and concludes with the end of the Han Empire in AD 220. The foundations of civilisation in China have traditionally been located in the Yellow River Valley, but archaeological evidence now suggests that early settlement was not confined to this area. Students will examine the development of civilisation in Ancient China. Life in small agricultural communities, with distinct regional identities, marks the beginnings of civilisation in China. Interactions between these small and diverse settlements led to the formation of rival states, and then to the growth of an enduring civilisation which went on to develop a series of empires. The reasons for the rise and fall of the Qin and Han empires will be explored alongside the many developments taking place in these empires. This unit includes the study of primary sources (the material record and written sources) as part of our historical inquiry about Early China.

1. Source Analysis (25%)
2. Essay or Historical Inquiry (25%)
3. Coursework (25%)
4. Examination (25%)

Twentieth Century History – Units 1 and 2

Unit 1: Twentieth Century History (1918-1939)

World War 1 is regarded by many as marking the beginning of twentieth century history since it represented such a complete departure from the past and heralded changes that were to have an impact for decades to come. The post-war treaties ushered in a period where the world was reshaped with new borders, movements, ideologies and power structures. The period after World War 1 was characterised by significant social and cultural change in the contrasting decades of the 1920s and 1930s. New fascist governments used the military, education and propaganda to impose controls on the way people lived; to exclude particular groups of people and to silence criticism. Our study will focus on these topics as well as Germany during the Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Students will analyse the nature of the state Hitler created and of the new society he aimed to introduce. Additionally, students will identify and analyse the causes of WWII. Having studied WWII in Year 10, Unit 1 will consolidate and extend students’ prior learning.

1. Primary Source Analysis (30%)
2. Coursework (30%)
3. Examination (40%)

Unit 2: Twentieth Century History (1945 – 2000)

In Unit 2 students explore the nature and impact of the Cold War and challenges and changes to existing political, economic and social arrangements in the second half of the twentieth century. The establishment of the United Nations in 1945 was intended to take an internationalist approach to avoiding warfare, resolving political tensions and addressing threats to human life and safety. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 was the first global expression of human rights. Despite internationalist moves, the second half of the twentieth century was dominated by the competing ideologies of democracy and communism, setting the backdrop for the Cold War. The period also saw challenges and change to establish order in many countries. The continuation of moves towards decolonisation led to independence movements in former colonies in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. New countries were created and independence was achieved through both military and diplomatic means. Old conflicts also continued and terrorism became increasingly global.


1. Analytical Essay/Tasks (40%)
2. Coursework (30%)
3. Examination (30%)

Revolutions - Units 3 and 4


Revolutions represent great ruptures in time and are a major turning point which results in the collapse and destruction of an existing political order and a pervasive change to society. Students will investigate the significant historical causes and consequences of two political revolution: the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of October 1917.

Revolutions are caused by an interplay of ideas, events, individuals and popular movements and the consequences have a profound effect on the political and social structures of the post-revolutionary society. Progress is not guaranteed or inevitable and students will study the internal and foreign threats to the new regimes. In both units students will develop an understanding of the complexity and multiplicity of causes and consequences in the revolutionary narrative. They will learn to ask historical questions and construct arguments using primary sources and historical interpretations as evidence. They will compare a range of historical perspectives and evaluate historical interpretations about the significant causes and consequences of a revolution and will consider the extent to which revolution brought change to the lives of people.

1. Coursework – Unit 3 (25%)
2. Coursework – Unit 4 (25%)
3. Examination (50%)



Group 3 - History
Year 11 and 12 - IB