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10 cp from 200-level units in History


HIST330 Contemporary World History

Unit rationale, description and aim

Historical context is vital to understand the present, and this unit teaches students how to analyse current events and media reports through researching and understanding historical antecedents.

This unit will survey the ethnic, social, political, religious, economic and technological forces which have shaped current and recent events around the world. The unit will draw on case studies from across the globe and expose the way historical forces have shaped present-day conflicts, events and challenges. The case studies will derive from the post-World War II and Post Cold-War era and examine issues such as the rise of new ethnic nationalisms, decolonisation, ideological, ethnic and religious conflicts, gender and sexual minorities and the position of charismatic leaders. Particular attention will be paid to regions and events not covered in other History units, contributing to students' development as well-rounded historians.

The aim of the unit is to explore the importance of history to explain current events and equip students with the analytical tools to relate historic events to current social debates.

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 broad and deep theoretical and factual knowledge of the historical underpinnings of current events and apply this to a variety of key conceptual approaches historians use to shape and debate interpretations of the past (GA5, GA6) 

LO2 - Explain ideas and concepts to a specified audience using audio, digital, oral, visual or written form as appropriate (GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials and use them to sustain a nuanced evidence-based narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Critically analyse historical evidence, synthesise scholarship and changing representations of the past according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the discipline through an independently formulated research task related to current historical debates (GA3, GA7, GA9, GA10) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical theories and concepts and relate them to real-world situations/case studies examining the historical underpinnings of current events (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 examine themes in case studies derived from different historical and regional contexts post-World War II and Post-Cold War.  

  • Ethnic nationalism 
  • Race, ethnicity gender and sexuality 
  • Ideological, ethnic and religious conflict 
  • Revolutions and revolutionary movements 
  • Decolonisation  
  • Indigenous peoples, activism and interaction 
  • Charismatic leaders 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point 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. The different topics are structured around case studies so that students can learn the ways historical antecedents have informed and influence current events around the world. 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in: reading and understanding primary and secondary sources, especially media sources; comprehending historical and historiographical debates; and finding and incorporating secondary and primary material into their own research and analysis. This unit teaches students to think about how localised examples are the product of longstanding historical processes. 

This unit 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, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film/video screenings, skills workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

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

  • Independent research tasks that require students to devise their own topic  
  • Locate and use primary and secondary sources 
  • Draw together historical techniques used in earlier units such as digital search techniques for online archives and/or digital newspaper databases or ‘hands on’ historical methods such as oral history, using material objects etc. 
  • Explore links between the present and the past/future (e.g. through ‘community engaged history’ and/or major historiographical debates) 
  • In-class debates 
  • Forums/blogs/online discussion or other mixed media options 
  • Short answer responses/reading journals/critical reflections 
  • Short quizzes/in-class tests 
  • Team assignments/student-led classes 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to (a) develop independent skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; (b) consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and (c) employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. 

The Knowledge Development task requires students to apply comprehension and critical analysis skills to course materials in order to develop foundational knowledge for other assessments. The Research Task requires students to demonstrate independent research skills, including locating and analysing a range of primary and secondary sources, presented as an evidence-based historical narrative or argument. The Summative Task requires students to demonstrate nuanced and detailed mastery of themes, debates and historical events from across the course, and to apply this to a critical discussion of the more recent past. 

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 of the historical underpinnings of current and recent events to debates about the past. 


LO1, LO2 

GA5, 6, 9 

Research Task 

This task is designed for students to apply methodological, historical and historiographical knowledge and prove an evidence-based argument on an independent research topic. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Summative Task 

This assessment is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their theoretical and factual knowledge of the case studies from the recent past.  

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 


Representative texts and references

Andersson, Jenny. The Future of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 

Buettner, Elizabeth. Europe After Empire: Decolonization, Society and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 

Duara, Prasenjit (ed.). Decolonization: Perspectives from Now and Then. London: Routledge, 2004. 

Hughes-Warrington, Marnie (ed.). Palgrave Advances in World Histories. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 

Iriye, Akira, Petra Goedde and William I. Hitchcock (eds). The Human Rights Revolution: An International History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 

Mazlish, Bruce. The New Global History. New York; London: Routledge, 2006. 

Sayward, Amy. The United Nations in International History. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. 

Sluga, Glenda. Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 

Spellman, William M. A Concise History of the World since 1945. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 

Westad, Odd Arne. The Cold War: A World History. London: Allen Lane, 2017. 

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