What is history?
....it must be understood that history is a response to the eternal desire of human beings to know about themselves. For this reason it is fundamentally a humane study, emphasising the importance of people, their individual choices, the values they hold, and the angles of vision by which they have looked at themselves and the world.
This pervading interest in humanity is the vital link between history and other humanistic disciplines with which it shares tools and objectives. But because history deals primarily with the human race in time, it offers a way of looking at human experience that the other humanistic disciplines do not: History brings depth to the study of humanity, giving it a past perspective and a sense of the inevitability of change. Because history deals with the flow of things, it shows that nothing stands still, that experience is dynamic and continuous; it lets us know that while what is happening now is important, people have had problems before and have survived them. One of history's most valuable contributions to its reader and writer is that it puts the present in its proper place:
Russel B. Nye, History, Meaning and Methods, Scott, (Foresman and Company, Glenview, Illinois,1975)
Year 8 Stage 4 History
Semester 1 History students are offered opportunities to cultivate their understanding of some of the great civilisations of the ancient world. Students begin their historical learning with an overview of historical methods, evidence and literacy skills before moving on to examine Ancient Greece. They find out about how Greece was organised from a political, economic, social and military perspective and its legacy for the modern world. Students learn about the great mythologies and stories of ancient Greece from Homer’s epics to the battles of Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae. In the second term of History, students explore the rise to power of Ancient China and undertake a personality study of the complex Emperor Shi Huangdi and his great archaeological legacies of the Terracotta Warriors and his tomb. The course concludes with a hand-on excursion to the Nicholson Museum at Sydney University where students examine mummies and get the chance to hold a Spartan sword!
Semester 2 History students continue to develop their understanding of historical themes and concepts by exploring the issue of contact. Students learn about the fascinating history of Medieval Europe and Japan, as well as the frontier conflicts of colonial Australia. The first term of history begins with the Battle of Hastings and Rise of Feudalism in Medieval Europe and also explores European contacts with Islam during the Crusades. Using a range of sources, students also consider key aspects of the medieval world including the plague, crime and punishment, and the witch-trials. In the Japanese unit, students learn about the Tokugawa Shoguns’ revival of the feudal system and control of foreign trade as well as how Japan’s isolation and the influences of westernisation eventually led to the decline of the Shogunate. The last unit of study is the invasion, occupation, colonisation and settlement of Australia and its impact on indigenous peoples. During the year, students will have the chance to experience and encounter the stories, battles and weapons of the Medieval World first-hand with a visit from a medieval expert.
Students learn the following:
Topic 1: Olympus and the Olympics: Ancient Greece – 8 weeks
- Location, origins and the first Aegean civilisations
- Civics and citizenship: democracy, rights and freedoms in Athens and Sparta
- Contacts with other peoples: the Persian Wars
- Daily life of men and women of Greece
- Beliefs and values: religious beliefs, gods and goddesses
- Impact of significant people and events: Alexander the Great
- Case study: Hoplite Battles
- Legacy of Ancient Greece
Topic 2: Emperors and Empire: Ancient China – 8 weeks
- Location, the origins of China civilisations
- Civics and citizenship: the role of the Emperor and social structure
- Beliefs and values: religious beliefs, gods and goddesses
- Impact of significant people: Qin Shi Huang, Sun Tzu, Admiral Zheng He, Confucius, Lao Zi, Buddha and Ban Zhao
- Daily life of men and women
- Contacts with other peoples
- Case Study: Building the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors
- Legacy of Ancient China
Topic 3: Investigating the Ancient Past – 4 weeks
- Main features of history and archaeology
- Role of historians and archaeologists
- Different approaches taken to historical investigation by archaeologists and historians
- Nature of sources for Ancient Australia and what they reveal about Australia’s past in the ancient period
- Sources: animal and human remains, tools, art, stories and sites related to the dreaming
- Case study: ancient sites that have disappeared, or are threatened, or have been protected and preserved, eg Akrotiri, Pompeii, the Pharos Lighthouse, Angkor Wat, Teotihuacan
Topic 4: The New Millennium: Medieval Europe – 8 weeks
- Legacy and Origins of the Middle Ages: Europe in the Year 1000 AD
- Contacts with other peoples: the Norman Conquest and its Impact
- Civics and Citizenship, Rights and Freedoms: Feudalism and Class System
- Beliefs and Values: Religious Beliefs and Role of the Church, Chivalry and Role of Knights, the Crusades
- Depth Study: Castles, Defences, Sieges and Warfare
- Daily Life of Men and Women: Life on the Manor – Food, Feasting, Games, Leisure and Entertainment, Disease and Medicine
- Civics and Citizenship: Law and Law and Order, Crime and Punishment
- Impact of Significant People: William the Conqueror, William Wallace Braveheart
- Significant Events: The Black Death, The Battle of Hastings
Topic 5: The Asia-Pacific World: Medieval Japan – 8 weeks
- Way of life: Social, Cultural, Economic and Political Features including Feudal System
- Japan under the Shoguns: Structure of Government, Warfare and the Samurai
- Geography and Location: Castles, Towns, use of environmental resources
- Daily Life of Men, Women and Children
- Roles and Relationships of Key Groups
- Depth study: Tokugawa Shogunate and Control, the Feudal System and Foreign Trade
- Decline of the Shogunate: Modernisation and Westernisation, the Opening Up of Japan
Topic 6: Invasions and Indigenous Peoples: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas – 4 Weeks
- The Nature and Impact of Colonisation and Contact
- Pre-contact Inca Culture – Nature of Inca Society, Government and the Roles and Responsibilities of Social Groups
- Spanish Contact in the 15th Century and Differing Experiences and Impact of Contact, including: Impact of Disease, Land Disputes, Dispossession, Massacres and Wars, Christianity
- Differing Perspectives on the Inca Colonisation and Historical Bias
Year 10 Stage 5 History
The 21st Century in which we live is one marked by rapid change and innovation. As such we increasingly take fast transport, faster communication, and connected global communities for granted, and yet only 300 years ago people could not begin to imagine the technologies we rely upon daily. It is important for students to understand how individuals, societies and governments cope with rapid change and that change can have both positive and negative impacts on communities. This course is an examination of the rise of the industrialised world through a study of the technological inventions of the Industrial Revolution, the methods used by the British to exploit new resources and markets through colonialism, and the consequences that mechanisation brought to warfare in the form of the railways, tanks and machine guns. Students also consider the working conditions in factories, mines and plantations, with a particular emphasis on the experiences of children. The semester ends with depth studies on Australia’s entry into World War I and II.
Despite attempts to create a lasting peace at the end of World War I, the world was engaged in another global conflict within 20 years. Not only did this conflict cause greater loss of life, it witnessed the Holocaust and the first use of nuclear weapons. In the aftermath of this war decolonisation saw the end of the great European empires and the emergence of new nations, particularly in Asia and Africa. At the same time, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged from World War II as hostile superpowers armed with nuclear weapons in a tense confrontation known as the Cold War. Despite a peaceful end to the Cold War in 1991, the emergence of global terrorism and a shift in economic power to Asia have contributed to ongoing uncertainty. The period since the end of the 20th Century has also been characterised by rising concerns about issues such as globalisation, the environment and sustainability. In spite of these uncertainties, there have been significant advances in technology, especially in communications, public health and living conditions across the world. Students in Year 10 compare and contrast the civil rights movements in America and Australia and their impact on international and local politics. In addition, students study changing government policy toward migration and its impact on Australian society. Lastly, we study a number of genocides from inception to prevention.
Students learn the following:
Unit 1: The Industrial Revolution in England and Australia - 5 weeks
- Reasons for the Industrial Revolution in Britain
- Agricultural Revolution
- Technological Advancements in Manufacturing and Transport
- Growth and Extent of British Empire 1750-1900
- Raw Materials obtained from British Empire
- Contribution of Industrial Revolution to the Development of Australia and Britain
- Population Movements in Britain
- Experiences of Men, Women and Children during the Industrial Revolution and their Way of Life
- Short and Long Term Impacts of the Industrial Revolution, including Global Changes in Landscapes
- Transport and Communication
Unit 2: The Sepoy Mutiny (1750–1918) – 5 weeks
- identify key physical features and geographic extent of India
- describe the structure of Indian society – explain the role of leaders
- outline key features of the Indian economy
- describe the main religious beliefs and cultural features
- discuss the lives and work of men, women and children
- outline the nature of the contact of the Indian society with European power(s)
- explain how Indian society was changed by its contact with European power(s)
Unit 3: Australia and World War I – 5 weeks
- Australia as a member of the British Empire and Australia’s regional context
- Causes of World War I and World War II
- Australia’s Involvement in World War I and World War II
- Campaigns in World War I and World War II: Gallipoli and Kokoda
- Comparison of Legends in I World War I and World War II: Gallipoli and Kokoda Diggers
- Changing Roles of Women during War Time and in World War I and World War II
- Australia’s Changing Relationship between Britain and USA between World War I and World War II
- Commemoration of both Wars, and Australian War Memorial
Unit 4: Australia and World War II – 5 weeks
- Overview and causes of World War II, links to World War I
- Scope and Nature of Warfare: Trenches, Holocaust Prison Camps, Use of Atomic Bombs
- Significant events, battles and experiences, including New Guinea Campaign 1942 and the Role of Women
- Dictatorships and Role and Influence of Leaders
- Impact of Wars on Returned Soldiers/Civilians
- Consequences of the Atomic Bomb
- Changing relationships between countries after the war
Unit 5: Rights and Freedoms (1945-present) – 5 weeks
- The origins and significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Australia’s role in the development of this
- Background to the struggle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples for Rights and Freedoms before and after 1967 Referendum
- The US Civil Rights Movement and its Influence on Australia
- The continuing nature of efforts to secure civil rights and freedoms throughout the world
Unit 6: Coming to Australia: The Migration experiences (1945–present)
- The Waves of Post-World War II Migration to Australia, including the influence of significant world events
- The Impact of Changing Government Policies on Australia's Migration Patterns, including Abolition of the White Australia Policy, 'Populate or Perish'
- The impact of at least ONE world event or development and its significance for Australia, such as the Vietnam War and Indochinese Refugees
- The Contribution of Migration to Australia's Changing Identity as a Nation and to its International Relationships
Unit 7: Causes and Consequences of Tiananmen Square – 5 weeks
- Position of China at the turn of the 20th Century in relation to other nations
- Influence of key ideas such as Nationalism
- Communism vs capitalism
- Rise of China as a Global Power
- Impact of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution
- Impact and Economic Policies of Deng Xiaoping
- Causes, Consequences and Legacy of Tiananmen Square
Unit 8: Genocide Studies – 5 weeks
- This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the social, political, historical and religious causes of genocide
- Its impact on local, national and global policies and attitudes.
- Students will try to define the term 'genocide' and understand its legal, political and moral implications.
- During the unit of work students will study the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.
Students will also undertake independent and collaborative analysis and research into specific genocides which have shaped contemporary society.
Blood – Brawn – Brains: History’s Big Ideas
Elective History Course Stage 5
The two ideas that drive the Year 9 and 10 Elective History courses are ‘student voice, student choice’ and ‘project based learning’. Student voice, student choice helps our elective students become autonomous, self-regulating and self-motivating learners. The thinking behind project based learning is that students will make meaning and create understanding in a collaborative and supportive environment. Students also have the opportunity to work on developing strong essay writing skills that will inrease their success at the Stage 6 level. The aim of these courses is to develop a life-long interest and enthusiasm for history. Some of the content covered includes: Ancient Persia, Alexander the Great, Vikings, the History of Terrorism, the French Revolution, Assassination of JFK, Historical Biography, Film as History, Historical Fiction, Heritage and Conservation, War and Peace, History and the Media, Local History, Museum and/or Archives Studies, Oral History and Historical Reconstructions.
Minecraft or Game Based Learning
The most effective lessons in the classroom are those with real-world applications. Minecraft is a world where students can solve real historical problems in real time. Students of Elective History will have the opportunity to use Minecraft to accurately rebuild ancient sites, understand the relationships between problems and solutions and have fun in a collaborative environment. Students will learn by doing, failing and trying again.
Games of Strategy
Board games will not take centre stage in the Elective History course, but they will provide a unique, fun opportunity to facilitate higher order cognitive abilities in ways that our normal academic studies may not. These games can facilitate discussion and help students explain their thinking in a fun and spirited learning environment. The following games will be played: Puerto Rico, Carcassone, Sequence, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Agricola, and Axis and Allies.
Year 11 Psychology – Preliminary Study Only
The study of psychology is the study of the mental processes and behaviour of people. All areas of human life can be studied. Psychology looks into why people act and think the way they do, who and what they are and the relationships that bind people together. In today’s complex urban, humanly disconnected, media driven societies, finding meaningful connections are becoming increasingly difficult.
All the different branches of psychology are important in helping individuals navigate these complexities. Students will learn about the meaning and development of functional psychology from its first development under Wilhelm Wundt to current theories and practices of the humanist school. Students will also learn about the physiology, structure and function, model-medical diagnosis and states of consciousness.
Students learn about what constitutes the 'normal' and 'abnormal' psychology. A range of psychological disorders, their causes, characteristics and treatments are covered. These include: mood disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder; anxiety disorders, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Students learn about the theory and practice of research design and methodology in the social sciences and particularly psychology. Students then design and conduct their own independent research in an area of psychology that interests them.
Studies of Religion
Studies of Religion
In Stage 6, students study the nature of religion and beliefs, Australian Aboriginal beliefs and spiritualties, and close studies of Christianity and Islam. Religion has been and continues to be an integral and unique aspect of human experience and a component of every culture. An appreciation of society is enhanced by an understanding of religion, its influence on human behaviour and interaction within culture. The aim of the Stage 6 Studies of Religion syllabus is to promote an understanding and critical awareness of the nature and significance of religion and the influence of belief systems and religious traditions on individuals and within society. Studies of Religion emphasises the development of skills of analysis, independent research, collaboration and effective communication. These skills empower students to become critically reflective life-long learners, whilst the course content enables students to become more socially and culturally aware citizens and participants in society.
The Studies of Religion subject is divided into the Preliminary and the HSC Courses.
Preliminary Studies of Religion:
- The Nature of Religion and Beliefs
- Religious Tradition Study 1: Christianity
- Religious Tradition Study 2: Islam
HSC Studies of Religion:
- Religion and Belief Systems in Australia post 1945
- Religious Tradition Depth Study 1: Christianity
- Religious Tradition Depth Study 2: Islam
During the Preliminary Course, students study the topics of the Legal System, the Individual and State, and the Law in Practice. In the HSC Course, students study Crime, Human Rights, World Order, and Shelter. Legal Studies is a highly engaging subject for those interested in studying Law and the rules that govern our society. With a focus on contemporary case studies, legislation and court judgements - both Australian and international - students will gain a deeper understanding of systems of rule, why certain behaviours are criminalised, and the rights they possess. We examine contemporary debates surrounding the need for law reform including a focus on responses to terrorism and the emerging challenges of cyber-crime and genetic technologies. Legal Studies fosters intellectual development, especially the ability to engage with higher order concepts, and develops students’ literacy through its focus on explicit teaching of written responses. Students’ learning is enhanced further by an excursion to court and the chance to participate in the Mock Trial competition.
HSC History Extension
The History Extension course offers a higher level of challenge than the Ancient History and Modern History courses with its greater emphasis on historiography. It is a challenging one unit course for students who are deep thinkers, avid readers, fantastic researchers, and self-starters. Enrolment in either Ancient History, Modern History or both are prerequisites for this course. This course goes beyond the traditional historical concepts of ‘past and present’ or ‘primary and secondary sources’ to a study of historiography. This involves intriguing questions such as: How is history written? Why? Is there ‘truth’ in history? Who decides what is history? Concepts like relativity in history, history as a human construct and the authenticity of history are all considered. Students analyse and evaluate different historical perspectives and approaches and the varying interpretations developed from these.
The first half of the course is dedicated to a study of ‘What is History?’ in which we look at a wide variety of historical texts such as the ancient historians Herodotus and Thucydides to contemporary histories from the 2015 Nobel Prize winner, Svetlana Alexievich, and Richard Evans. We move on, in the second semester, to an analysis of the different ways in which ‘The Crusades: Campaigns of the Cross?’ have been written about. The latter involves considering historical texts from the medieval period through to the Enlightenment, Romanticism, the emergence of Arab Nationalism in the 20th Century as well as contemporary writings on the subject.
Students also undertake a major research project involving analysis, synthesis and evaluation of information from historical sources of differing perspectives and historical approaches. This gives each student the chance to explore an aspect of history that they are passionate about. Students visit Fisher Library at Sydney University to help them find resources for their History Project and to equip them for further research.
History Extension Course Structure and Requirements - (60 hours)
- Constructing History: Key Questions and Case Study – 40 (minimum Indicative hours)
- History Project: 20 (maximum Indicative hours)
In the Preliminary Course, students undertake studies of The Decline and Fall of the Romanov Dynasty, the American Civil War, and World War I. In the HSC Modern History Course, students have the opportunity to study interwar Russia and the Soviet Union, Conflict in Indochina, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Civil Rights in the USA.
Modern History develops students’ understanding about people and how they are influenced by past events. Through examinations of various primary and secondary sources students gain a critical understanding of current events and can place these events into their proper historical context. Crucial to this course is the need to think critically and creatively about the interplay between individuals, groups, events and institutions. Good historians have the skills of differing research methodologies, critically analysing primary and secondary sources, understanding perspectives, editing, proofreading, building arguments and understanding causation. The knowledge, understanding and skills that students acquire through studying Modern History provide a firm foundation for further study, the world of work, active and informed citizenship, and for lifelong learning. It fosters a critical approach to understanding events, issues and interpretations as well as the effective communication of accounts conveying ideas, judgements and evidence.
The Modern History subject is divided into the Preliminary and the HSC Courses:
Investigating Modern History: The Nature of Modern History
Investigating Modern History: Two Case Study
Historical Investigation: Personal Interest Project
The Shaping of the Modern World: World War I
Core Study: Power and Authority in the Modern World 1919–1946
National Study: Russia and the Soviet Union 1917–1941
Change in the Modern World: Civil Rights in the USA 1945–1968
Peace and Conflict: Conflict in the Pacific or Conflict in Indochina
In the Preliminary Course, students of Ancient History have the opportunity to study the treatment and display of human remains, marine archaeology, the case study of Masada, Tutankhamun’s Tomb, and the power and image of Augustus. In the following HSC Course, students study Pompeii and Herculaneum, the ancient society of Sparta, the historical period of the Julio-Claudians, and Julius Caesar.
Students will also develop and refine their skills of writing, presenting, critical thinking and analysis. Ancient History is a fascinating subject that draws on many fields such as archaeology, anthropology, DNA analysis, forensic science and radio-carbon dating to unlock the mysteries of the past. Students also examine problematic knowledge when debating topics such as the ethics of displaying human remains, ‘who owns the past?’ and the reconstruction of ancient sites. Students will also engage with different interpretations of evidence and come to their own conclusions based on their analysis of archaeological and written sources. In addition, students will have the opportunity to engage in 'hands on' experiences such as mummifying a rat, handling ancient artefacts at the Museum of Ancient Cultures and attending excursions to Italy and Greece to gain a first-hand experience of the ancient sites that they study in the course. Our history faculty also has close ties with Dr Estelle Lazer, the leading Australian archaeologist in Pompeii. Estelle has visited the school to lecture Ancient History students on key syllabus points in the HSC Core: Cities of Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Robert Devlin (Head Teacher History)
Eugenie Sugowdz (Head Teacher Teaching & Learning)
Elizabeth Greaves (Teacher Librarian - relieving)