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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 modern United States has witnessed rapid change since the end of World War Two, including social movements and economic trends that have had global resonance. This unit introduces students to the social, economic and political history of the United States in the post-Second World War era with a particular focus on the causes, effects and resistance to social change.

This unit traces the history of the United States from the end of the Second World War until the present day, with emphasis placed on domestic affairs. Studies include the role of the Cold War, US presidents, social movements and the polarising forces of liberalism and conservatism. Particular attention will be paid to the changing statuses of gender, race and sexuality in contemporary American society.

The aim of this unit is to explore the interrelated importance of social, economic and political perspectives on historical eras and events.

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 Second World War and an awareness of historical debates surrounding it (GA5, GA6, GA7) 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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:  

  • The Cold War years  
  • The struggles for racial equality, including Native American activism 
  • Women’s rights and gender equality, 
  • The culture wars 
  • The War on Terror at home 
  • The influence of presidents and the judiciary on American society 

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 your 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 become 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 the political, social and economic dimensions of particular historic eras and events. 

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 the United States of America; (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past.  

The Knowledge Development Task requires students to demonstrate a grounding in facts, theories and critical analysis skills fundamental to the unit, and the group project allows students to develop this in a collaborative setting, extending their mastery of content and engaging in discussion and debate of core ideas. These two assignments provide students with a factual and theoretical framework for undertaking their own independent research task which they will present as an evidence-based historical narrative or essay. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Knowledge Development Task 

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


LO1, LO2

GA5, 6, 9 

Group Project 

This assessment is an opportunity for students to apply their theoretical and factual knowledge of a particular aspect of US history in a group project.


LO1, LO2, LO3


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. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 


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. 

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. 

Hosmer, Brian, ed. Native Americans and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2010. 

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. 

Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. 

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

Riches, William T. Martin. The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and Resistance. 3rd ed. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 

Roth, Benita. Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 

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

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