History is a dynamic, contested, evidence-based discipline that involves an exciting engagement with the past. It is a rigorous intellectual discipline, focused around key historical concepts such as change, causation and significance.
History is an exploratory subject that fosters a sense of inquiry. It is also an interpretive discipline, allowing opportunity for engagement with multiple perspectives and a plurality of opinions. Studying history develops an understanding of the past, which leads to a deeper understanding of the nature of humans and of the world today.
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) History course is a world history course based on a comparative and multi-perspective approach to history. It involves the study of a variety of types of history, including political, economic, social and cultural, and provides a balance of structure and flexibility. The course emphasises the importance of encouraging students to think historically and to develop historical skills, as well as gaining factual knowledge. It puts a premium on developing the skills of critical thinking, and on developing an understanding of multiple interpretations of history. In this way, the course involves a challenging and demanding critical exploration of the past.
There are six key concepts that have particular prominence throughout the DP History course.
Distinction Between Standard Level (SL) and Higher Leverl (HL)
Students at SL and HL are presented with a syllabus that has a common core consisting of prescribed subjects and topics in world history. In addition, students at HL are also required to undertake an in-depth study of three sections from one of the HL regional options. While many of the skills of studying history are common to both SL and HL, the difference in recommended teaching hours at SL and HL signals a clear distinction between the demands made on students, with the greater depth of study required for HL.
Rights and Protest
This prescribed subject focuses on struggles for rights and freedoms in the mid-20th century. Two case studies are prescribed, from two different regions of the world, and both of these case studies must be studied. The first case study explores the civil rights movement in the US between 1954 and the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The second case study explores protests against apartheid in South Africa. It focuses specifically on the years 1948–1964, beginning with the election of the National Party in 1948 and ending with the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and his co-defendants following the Rivonia trial in 1964.
World History Topics
Authoritarian States (20th Century)
This topic focuses on exploring the conditions that facilitated the rise of authoritarian states in the 20th century, as well as the methods used by parties and leaders to take and maintain power. The topic explores the emergence, consolidation and maintenance of power, including the impact of the leaders’ policies, both domestic and foreign, upon the maintenance of power. Students will study: Europe: Germany—Hitler; USSR—Stalin; Asia and Oceania: China—Mao
The Cold War: Superpower Tensions and Rivalries (20th Century)
The Cold War dominated global affairs from the end of the Second World War to the early 1990s. This topic focuses on how superpower rivalries did not remain static but changed according to styles of leadership, strength of ideological beliefs, economic factors and crises involving client states. The topic aims to promote an international perspective on the Cold War by requiring the study of Cold War leaders, countries and crises from more than one region of the world.
HL Regional Options: Europe
Imperial Russia, Revolution and the Establishment of the Soviet Union (1855–1924)
This section deals with modernisation and conservatism in tsarist Russia and the eventual collapse of the tsarist autocracy, as well as the revolution of 1917, the Civil War and the rule of Lenin. There is a focus on the concepts of change and continuity, with examination and consideration of the social, economic and political factors that brought about change.
The Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia (1924–2000)
This section examines the consolidation of the Soviet state from 1924 and the methods applied to ensure its survival, growth and expansion inside and outside the borders of the Soviet Union. It explores the rise and nature of the rule of Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and their policies. East–West relations post-1945 in relation to Soviet aims and leadership should also be considered. Finally, the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union should be considered, as well as political and economic developments in post-Soviet Russia.
Post-War Central and Eastern Europe (1945–2000)
This section explores events in central and eastern Europe from 1945–2000. It includes the transition from wartime occupation to the dominance of the Soviet Union (with the exception of Tito’s Yugoslavia). There is also a focus on the extent, and nature, of resistance to the dominance of the Soviet Union, as well as a discussion of the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Finally, there is an examination of political, economic and social developments from 1989 to 2000.