Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


10 cp from 100-level units in History or Politics and International Relations


HIST224 Rise of the United States

Unit rationale, description and aim

The era from the end of the Revolutionary War through the Second World War was a formative period in the development of the modern United States. This unit introduces students to that period of history, which is vital to understanding many of the contemporary aspects of American social, cultural, political and economic values which are still apparent today.

This unit traces the history of the United States from the end of the Revolutionary War until the Second World War, with emphasis placed on domestic affairs. Studies include the growth of the American economy, war and American society, emergence of the modern presidency, urbanisation and frontiers, social movements and the roles of gender and race in shaping modern American society.

The aim of the unit is to explore the ways that changing demographics and political cultures influenced the historic development of nation-states, in this case the United States.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge of American history since the end of the Revolutionary War and an awareness of historical debates surrounding it (GA5, GA6) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA9)

LO3 - Locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to the history of the United States to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, G10) 

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of the history of the United States and the methods that historians have used to research it (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies in US history over time (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6).

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:  

  • American expansionism 
  • Slavery 
  • War and American society 
  • Immigration 
  • Urbanisation 
  • Experiences of racial minorities, including Native Americans 
  • Gender and women’s rights 
  • Changing roles of the American government and presidency 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. 

To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support learning such as lectures and tutorials or workshops, supported by film/video screenings webinars, podcasts or online materials, when appropriate. The balance of the hours then becomes private study to prepare for class activities and complete set readings and assignments for this unit. 

This unit is delivered as a face to face class in order to immerse students in active learning through activities which facilitate the development of skills fundamental to the discipline of history and deep understanding of course content. This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, role play and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in: reading and understanding primary and secondary sources; comprehending historical and historiographical debates; and incorporating secondary and primary material into their own research and analysis. This unit teaches students to think about how different demographic groups have shaped, and been shaped by, national political, social and economic changes. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In the History discipline, second year units are designed to include a selection of the following assessment tasks: 

  • Active research tasks that require students to find and use primary and secondary sources 
  • Digital search techniques for online archives and/or digital newspaper databases 
  • ‘Hands on’ historical methods such as oral history, using material objects/archaeological evidence, textual and visual analysis, etc. 
  • Research essay/challenge  
  • Book review 
  • In-class debates or team challenges 
  • Forums/blogs/online discussion 
  • Short answer responses 
  • Short quizzes/in-class tests 
  • Tutorial-based assignments/presentations 


Students in this unit will be encouraged to: develop skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to strategies that will help them to: (a) understand and interpret the history of a particular country (or countries); (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past.  


The primary source exercise give students an opportunity to focus on the particular skills associated with using primary sources—a vital historical skill—and to apply factual and theoretical knowledge to these sources. The Research Task extends on this, asking students to locate and analyse both primary and secondary sources, and to present their findings as an evidence-based historical narrative or argument. The Summative Task requires students to demonstrate critical analysis of course materials presented across the semester. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Primary Source Exercise 

This assessment is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their theoretical and factual knowledge of American history and through identifying and critically reading a set of primary sources. 


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA6, GA9 

Research Task 

This task is designed for students to locate and reference primary and secondary sources, applying them to construct and prove an evidence-based argument on a particular research topic. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6,  GA8, GA9, GA10

Summative Knowledge Task 

The purpose of this task is for students to demonstrate critical reading and listening comprehension skills, and to apply knowledge from readings and lectures to a series of questions. 

The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6,  GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. 4th Owl Books ed. New York: H. Holt, 2007. 

Corbould, Clare. Becoming African Americans: Black Public Life in Harlem, 1919–1939. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009. 

Dailey, Jane, Glenda Gilmore and Bryant Simon (eds). Jumpin’ Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. 

Jenkins, Philip. A History of the United States. 4th ed. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 

Kleinberg, S. Jay, Eileen Boris, Vicki L. Ruiz (eds). The Practice of U.S. Women's History: Narratives, Intersections, and Dialogues. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007. 

Library of Congress. “Digital Collections.” Available from  

National Museum of the American Indian. Available from  

Pfiffner, James P. The Modern Presidency. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2008. 

Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of multicultural America. 2nd ed. New York: Back Bay Books/Little, Brown, and Co., 2008. 

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005. 

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs