A Guide to the New Stage 6 History Syllabuses

Margaret Vos introduces the new Stage 6 History syllabuses which are implemented for Year 11 in 2018…

 

The new NSW Stage 6 History Syllabuses were endorsed in 2016. 2017 is a planning year with implementation for Year 11 in 2018 and Year 12 in 2019. These syllabuses aim to provide students with opportunities to further develop high order, core historical skills, knowledge and understanding which will assist them in the next stage of their lives.

Whilst the syllabuses include some content, including skills and concepts, aligned with the Australian Curriculum they retain a uniquely NSW structure and useful parallels with the previous Stage 6 History syllabuses in terms of structure and content.

Due to the online nature of the syllabus documents, teachers are encouraged to download and review each section, including the aim and rationale before moving to the course content.

Initial information regarding assessment has been published by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). The most significant change is the approach to the formal school-based assessment program for Year 11 and Year 12. Examination specifications are expected to be available in Term 3, 2017.

Similarities between the Ancient History Stage 6 and the Modern History Stage 6 Syllabuses

Integrated historical skills and concepts

This new approach enables teachers to plan for deeper analysis of the topics.

The outcomes

Teachers should carefully consider the outcomes in both Ancient History and Modern History. They are now organised into two categories: Knowledge and Understanding, and Skills. There are specific objectives attached to each category.

Duplication and overlap

The important limitation to a teacher’s choice is the restriction that existed in the previous syllabus regarding topic choice in Year 11; Case studies must not overlap with or duplicate significantly any topic attempted in the Year 12 Ancient History, Modern History or History Extension courses. 

Structural organisation

There is some structural similarity between the Year 11 Courses in both Ancient History and Modern History which may be helpful.

This also makes it easier for students to recognise that the two courses are similar in structure and in the amount of work involved. Teachers who transition from the teaching of Modern History to Ancient History (or vice versa) will find some commonality in the Year 11 Courses.

Indicative hours in Year 11

The breakdown of the 120 indicative hours into hours for each topic is also now identical in the two courses. Previously only the Modern History Year 11 Course had specified indicative hours for the Preliminary Course.

Flexibility for teachers in the Year 11 courses

The content of each case study and option is further developed within both syllabuses. This includes a list of possible examples that could be used to illustrate aspects of the content. The list of examples and content is not proscriptive. Teachers may develop their own examples and make choices about the sequence and emphasis of their teaching of the content. 

The Historical Investigation

This important part of the previous syllabus has been retained in the Year 11 Course in both Ancient History and Modern History. This topic is also a crucial background and skill development for students who wish to go on to History Extension. 

The investigation provides all students with choice and opportunity to carry out the work as historians in areas of their own interest (either as an individual researcher or as part of a group investigation). It allows teachers to give their students a real choice about the topics they wish to study.

Ancient History

The Year 11 course

The major changes in the new Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus occur in Year 11. The breakdown of the specified indicative hours for each topic is below:

Ancient History
Year 11 Course
120 Indicative Hours

Indicative

Hours

Investigating Ancient History

  • The Nature of Ancient History
  • Case Studies
Each case study should be a minimum of 10 indicative hours.
60
Features of Ancient Societies40
Historical Investigation20

Investigating Ancient History

This is the major section of the Year 11 Course (50% of the indicative hours).

The Nature of Ancient History

What has changed?
There are now six distinct areas and students must investigate at least ONE of the following options:

  1. The Investigation of Ancient Sites and Sources
  2. Historical Authentication and Reliability
  3. The Representation of the Ancient Past
  4. Preservation, Conservation and/or Reconstruction of Ancient Sites
  5. Cultural Heritage and The Role of Museums
  6. The Treatment and Display of Human Remains

How can this section be taught?
A teacher can approach this section in various ways:

  • Teach one of the options;
  • Teach more than one option;
  • Create an integrated study incorporating elements of two or more of the six areas.

Case Studies

What has changed?

TWO Case studies must now be completed -  ONE from List A (Egypt, Greece, Rome, Celtic Europe) and ONE from List B (the Near East, Asia, the Americas, Australia).

The two case studies do not need to be of equal length. The only requirement is that “Each case study should be a minimum of 10 indicative hours.” Old Kingdom Egypt is now a Case Study option as it is no longer in the Year 12 Course. Similarly, Mycenae is one of the possible topics as it too no longer exists in the Year 12 Course. Ancient China in the Qin and Han Dynasties may no longer be taught in the Year 11 Course as this topic is now in the Year 12 Course. Some exciting new topics are included below:

  • Ancient Australia
  • The Shang Dynasty
  • Teotihuacan
  • Palmyra and the Silk Road

Features of Ancient Societies

What is the structure?
This section is a new way of approaching the study of Ancient Societies. A list of both Ancient Societies and Key Features is provided. Students study at least TWO ancient societies through an investigation of EITHER a different key feature for each society OR one key feature across the societies selected. 

How can this section be taught?
The emphasis is on the interpretation of historical sources. The structure of this section allows for flexibility in a teacher’s choice of topics which could allow for a study of the interaction of TWO distinct societies. Another approach could involve ONE study of two or more societies.

Students investigate a key feature of the society or societies chosen. A list of possible studies is provided but is not proscriptive. The addition of India and China may encourage a more thorough focus on Asian history.

School-based assessment requirements

Teachers should refer to the NESA Assessment and Reporting in Ancient History Stage 6 document http://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/assets/global/files/assessment-and-reporting-in-ancient-history-stage-6.pdf . Teachers are encouraged to refer to the relevant NESA documents for updates. Some features for the new syllabus include:

The Year 11 formal school-based assessment program is to reflect the following requirements:

  • three assessment tasks
  • the minimum weighting for an individual task is 20%
  • the maximum weighting for an individual task is 40%
  • one task may be a formal written examination
  • one task must be an Historical Investigation with a weighting of 20–30%.

The Year 12 course

The structure – What is the same? What is different?
The structure of each of the four topics is slightly different. Each topic has two sections – Survey (a maximum of 3 hours) and Focus of Study (a minimum of 27 hours). It is important to note that there is still a requirement that students study from at least TWO geographical areas. The list has been expanded to include China. The indicative hours are listed below:

Ancient Hitory
Year 12 course
120 Indicative Hours

Indicative
Hours
Core Study – Cities of Vesuvius – Pompeii and Herculaneum30
Ancient Societies30
Personalities in their Times30
Historical Periods30

The Core Study - Cities of Vesuvius – Pompeii and Herculaneum

Content – what is the same and what is different?

  • The Core’s Content Focus (which replaces the Principal Focus of the previous syllabus) has been expanded to include a statement that: “Students will develop and apply their knowledge and skills to understand and use  different types of sources and relevant issues”.
    This is significant as this further clarifies the historiographical aspect of the core.
  • There are three new terms specified to clarify the focus of the content relating to local political life (decuriones, magistrates, Comitium).

Ancient Societies

Although rearranged, the content for each Ancient Society will be familiar to teachers who have taught the previous syllabus and teachers will be able to use their resources to teach this topic. One new topic has been included: Society in China during the Han Dynasty 206 BC – AD 220.

Personalities in their Times

Within this section a new sub-topic exists – a close analysis of a source or type of source. This includes a study of the value of the source as well as an evaluation of the source in the context of other available sources (including the problems of evidence). This explicit addition is important. For, although teachers would have used sources when previously doing this topic, it is a reminder that there is an important historiographical aspect of this topic. One new topic has been included: China - Qin Shihuangdi.

Historical Period

The new Survey looks at the chronological and geographical context as well as the key powers in the region and the nature of contact with other societies. This is to be completed in a maximum of 3 hours. One new option is included: Imperial China – the Qin and Han 247 – 87 BC. This was previously in Ancient Societies in the old Preliminary Course.
 

School-based assessment requirements

Teachers should refer to the NESA Assessment and Reporting in Ancient History Stage 6 document for updates. The Year 12 formal school-based assessment program includes:

  • a maximum of four assessment tasks
  • the minimum weighting for an individual task is 10%
  • the maximum weighting for an individual task is 40%
  • one task may be a formal written examination with a maximum weighting of 30%
  • one task must be an Historical Analysis with a weighting of 20–30%.

Information about the Historical Analysis in Ancient History

The Historical Analysis provides students with the opportunity to focus on an historical question, issue or controversy of interest, and to develop a reasoned argument, supported by evidence. It may occur in or across any of the topics selected for study.

The Historical Analysis may be presented in written, oral or multimodal form, and must:

  • be completed individually
  • be a maximum of 1200 words, 6 minutes duration or equivalent in multimodal form
  • address relevant syllabus outcomes
  • relate to a topic or topics studied in the Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus.

Modern History

The Year 11 course

There are substantial changes to this course. The indicative hours are listed below:

Modern History
Year 11 Course
120 Indicative Hours

Indicative
Hours

Investigating Modern History

  • The Nature of Modern History
  • Case Studies
Each case study should be a minimum of 10 indicative hours.
60
Historical Investigation20
The Shaping of the Modern World40

Investigating Modern History

How is this new section structured?

Investigating Modern History is the major part of the Year 11 Course (50% of the indicative hours). This has been designed as an introduction to Modern History and its skills, historical concepts, relevant methods and issues. The topic has two distinct sections.

The Nature of Modern History


What is its content?

There are five distinct areas listed and students must investigate at least ONE of the following:

1. The investigation of historic sites and sources

2. The contestability of the past

3. The construction of modern histories

4. History and memory

5. The representation and commemoration of the past

How can this section be taught?

A teacher can approach this section in various ways:

  • Teach one of the options;
  • Teach more than one option;
  • Create an integrated study incorporating elements of two or more of the five areas.

Case Studies

What has changed?

Teachers can create their own case studies; old favourite topics can still be taught (except for those topics that now are part of the Year 12 Course). Some of the previous case studies are now part of the Year 12 Course. If these topics are not attempted in the Year 12 course teachers have the flexibility to develop their own case studies, including:

  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s;
  • Aung San Suu Kyi and the pro-democracy movement in Burma;
  • The Chinese Government and Tiananmen Square.

New Case Studies

The new case studies are listed in the table below. There is a requirement that “each case study should be a minimum of 10 indicative hours.”  They do not need to be of equal length. Teachers will continue to teach a case study from List A and List B. Some new and modified case studies include:

The American Civil War
  • This topic will be familiar to those teachers who have been teaching Modern History for a long time.

Making Change: Day of Mourning to Mabo

Women's Movements
  • A much more comprehensive and interesting topic than the previous Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette Movement.

The Rise of the Environment Movement

The Changing Nature of Anglo - Irish Relations
  • This topic was moved from the old Year 12 course.

The British In India and Burma

  • Includes aspects of The Indian Mutiny 1857 (from previous syllabus).

The Making of Modern South Africa 1890 - 1910
  • This topic will serve as background to Apartheid in South Africa 1960 -1994 (an option in the new Year 12 topic - Change in The Modern World).

How can this section be programmed?

  1. TWO case studies.
  2. ONE case study and ONE of the teacher's own.
  3. TWO case studies of the teacher's own.

Where teachers develop their own case studies they need to use the framework provided in the syllabus.

The Shaping of the Modern World

The purpose of this section is for students to examine a key historical development through the study of different types of sources. Students can develop an understanding of modernity.

This topic provides for the study of topics from the late 17th Century and the 18th Century.

What is the structure of this topic?

Students study at least ONE of the following key historical periods:

  1. World War I (which retains some elements of the former Year 12 Core from the previous syllabus as well as new elements)
  2. The Enlightenment
  3. The French Revolution
  4. The Age of Imperialism
  5. The Industrial Age
  6. The End of Empire

How can this section be taught?

For this section, there are 40 indicative hours.  A substantial part of the Year 11 Course should be spent on this topic. Teachers can, therefore, develop detailed and innovative studies. Only ONE topic is required to be taught. However, it is possible to create an option that integrates aspects of more than one of the topics listed. For example, an option could be developed that looked at the forces that existed in the late 17th Century and the 18th Century (such as industrialisation, imperialism, revolution and the Enlightenment) and trace the legacy of, and impact of, these forces on the modern world.

School-based assessment requirements

Teachers should refer to the NESA Assessment and Reporting in Modern History Stage 6 document and other relevant NESA documents for updates http://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/assets/global/files/assessment-and-reporting-in-modern-history-stage-6.pdf  . Some features for the new syllabus include:

The Year 11 formal school-based assessment program is to reflect the following requirements:

  • three assessment tasks
  • the minimum weighting for an individual task is 20%
  • the maximum weighting for an individual task is 40%
  • one task may be a formal written examination
  • one task must be an Historical Investigation with a weighting of 20–30%.

The Year 12 course

There is a new requirement that at least ONE non-European / Western topic is studied in the Year 12 Modern History Course. These non-European / Western topics are clearly listed in the syllabus. As seen from the Course Structure and Requirements below, there are substantial changes to the Year 12 Course.

Modern History
Year 12 Course
120 Indicative Hours
Indicative Hours
Core Study - Power and Authority in the Modern
World 1919-1946
30
National Studies30
Peace and Conflict30
Change in the Modern World30

 

Core Study – Power and Authority in the Modern World 1919–1946

The new Core provides a broader international focus within which Germany is situated and this may provide contextual background for subsequent topics such as Conflict in the Pacific and The Changing World Order.

What are the challenges?

This Core study will be new for some who have not previously taught Germany. The fact that Germany was always such a popular choice, however, means that there is a huge range of existing resources.

What is the content?

The Core Focus states that “students will develop and apply their knowledge and skills to understand and use different types of sources and relevant historiographical issues.” Thus, the historiographical nature of this core is emphasised.

Survey

This gives an overview of the peace treaties which ended World War One and is a maximum of 3 hours, 10% of the indicative hours for the Core.

Focus of study includes three sections:

The rise of dictatorships after World War I
The concept of and the nature of power and authority in the period of 1919–1946 is examined, including a study of the rise of fascist, totalitarian and militarist movements after World War I. This investigation into the growth in dictatorships in Europe (with the central focus on the events in Germany) in the period between the World Wars considers why such regimes became popular.

The Nazi regime to 1939
The nature of Nazi ideology and the role of individuals in the Nazi state are studied. The consequences of the emergence of totalitarianism and militarism within Germany as well as opposition to the regime are also investigated.

The search for peace and security in the world
The Core concludes with a look at the international consequences. An overview of the ambitions of Germany and Japan are studied as is the role of the League of Nations and the United Nations.

National Studies

What is changed?
It is essential that teachers check to see if the dates for their chosen National Study have changed. China, Japan, Russia and the Soviet Union and the USA are completely unchanged. One new topic exists: Iran 1945–1989. This includes a Survey (maximum of 3 indicative hours) of Iran from 1945 to 1953 and a Focus of Study (including The Rule of the Shah; The Revolution and Iran under Khomeini).

Three of the countries to be studied are the same but require a study of a different chronological period. These include India 1942–1984, Indonesia 1945–2005 and Australia 1918–1949.

Peace and Conflict

Conflict in the Gulf 1980–2011 is an exciting new study.

Change in the Modern World

This is a new topic in the Year 12 Modern History course. Students are to investigate key features in the history of ONE of six topics. Some new case studies draw upon some content from previous Preliminary course studies, including:

New Options
  1. The Nuclear Age 1945–2011

  2. The Changing World Order 1945–2011

From Previous Syllabus

  1. Apartheid in South Africa 1960–1994 (previous National Study)
  2. Civil Rights in the USA 1945–1968 (previous Preliminary course)
  3. Pro-democracy movement in Burma 1945–2010 (previous Preliminary course)
  4. The Cultural Revolution to Tiananmen Square 1966–1989 (previous Preliminary course)

School-based assessment requirements

Teachers should refer to the NESA Assessment and Reporting in Modern History Stage 6 document for updates. The Year 12 formal school-based assessment program includes:

  • a maximum of four assessment tasks
  • the minimum weighting for an individual task is 10%
  • the maximum weighting for an individual task is 40%
  • one task may be a formal written examination with a maximum weighting of 30%
  • one task must be an Historical Analysis with a weighting of 20–30%.

Information about the Historical Analysis in Modern History

The Historical Analysis provides students with the opportunity to focus on an historical question, issue or controversy of interest, and to develop a reasoned argument, supported by evidence. It may occur in or across any of the topics selected for study.

The Historical Analysis may be presented in written, oral or multimodal form, and must:

  • be completed individually
  • be a maximum of 1200 words, 6 minutes duration or equivalent in multimodal form
  • address relevant syllabus outcomes
  • relate to a topic or topics studied in the Modern History Stage 6 Syllabus.

History Extension

The course outline

There has been a reduction in indicative hours for the History Project (from 24 to 20) and a subsequent increase in the hours (a minimum of 40) for the topic Constructing History.

 

History Extension
Year 12 Course
60 Hours
Indicative
Hours
Constructing History
  • Key Questions
  • Case Studies
40
(minimum)
History Project20
(maximum)

Constructing History

This is the largest topic with two distinct parts: the Key Questions and the Case Studies.

Key Questions

There are now four Key Questions:

  • Who are historians? This question still allows for a study of those historians who have created history over time. The deletion of ‘the’ from the previous question (Who are the historians?) considerably widens the possibility for debate about who should be considered as an historian
  • What are the purposes of history? ‘The aims’ has been removed from this question.
  • How has history been constructed, recorded and presented over time? An additional word ‘presented’ has been added to this question.
  • Why have approaches to history changed over time?

What is different?

  • The other previous question “What are the historical debates in the case study?” is to “be integrated within each case study”.
  • “The Readings” - reference to ‘The Readings’ has been removed from the new syllabus. However, where appropriate, extracts from this document can still be used as a resource. If used judiciously, and not studied in its entirety, selected readings may be of value.

Case Studies

What has changed about the content?

There is a reduction in the content to better reflect the requirements of 1 unit subjects. The areas of historiographical debate in every case study have been reduced from five to three. A summary of key topic changes is listed below:

Ancient

New
  1. Athenian Democracy

  2. Collapse of the Western Roman Empire

Modified
  1. The Origins of Christianity retains substantial elements of the previous case study - The Historicity of Jesus Christ.

  2. Cleopatra VII (Formerly a topic in the Ancient History course)

Medieval and Early Modern

New1. Witch Hunt and Witch Trials

Modern

Modified
  1. Napoleon
  2. Western Imperialism in the 19th Century
  3. Appeasement
  4. John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  5. A British Prime Minister: Winston Churchill OR Margaret Thatcher

Asia

New
  1. Genghis Khan
  2. The Opium Wars
  3. Partition of India; although new to History Extension, it was one key feature of the previous Modern History National Study – India: 1919-1947. It will also complement the new National Study – India: 1942–1984 in the Year 12 Modern History course.

Australia

New
  1. Representations of ANZAC

  2. An Australian Prime Minister: Robert Menzies OR Gough Whitlam

Modified
  1. The Frontier in Australia is a previous Case Study

  2. The Arrival of the British in Australia. Although the content is very much the same there has been a change in terminology. The use of the term ‘frontier’ instead of ‘the arrival of the British’ allows for a broader study of the Aboriginal response to British intrusion in Australia.

History Project

The essay length is the same and must not exceed 2500 words. The bibliography is still required and an evaluation of three sources. This must not exceed 600 words in total. The Project is still to be marked internally and it is recommended to arrange for some collaborative/team marking of this Project (either amongst History teachers in one school or across schools).

What has changed?

There have been some slight but significant changes to Part II Documenting the Project

Proposal

An extra dot point has been added to the instructions. It explicitly mentions that a proposal should include a focus question.

Synopsis

No longer required.

Process Log

The content of this section has been expanded to include:

  • Explanation of the topic choice – this reflects the intention of the former synopsis;
  • Draft responses – this will ensure that the work follows the principle of good scholarship (including the lack of plagiarism);
  • Teacher Feedback – so teachers can continue to monitor the Project and give genuine feedback at various stages in the process. This can be achieved by viewing and commenting on the drafts as well as checking the use of sources.

Certification

There is not further information available at present. The syllabus refers to the HSC All My Own Work Program.

School-based assessment requirements

Teachers should refer to the NESA Assessment and Reporting in History Extension Stage 6 document for updates http://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/assets/global/files/assessment-and-reporting-in-history-extension-stage-6.pdf  .

The Year 12 formal school-based assessment program includes:

  • three assessment tasks
  • one task may be a formal written examination with a weighting of 30%
  • one task must be the History Project – Historical Process (proposal, process log, annotated sources) with a weighting of 30%
  • one task must be the History Project – Essay with a weighting of 40%.

There are now two Life Skills courses

There is now an authentic, stand-alone course for both Ancient History and Modern History Life Skills students. In the old HSIE Life Skills Syllabus, the study of Ancient History and Modern History were together with other subjects. For each subject, students will study the same topics as their peers.

In implementing each of the new syllabuses for Stage 6 History, the importance of collaboration of History teachers between schools and within faculties will be essential. Professional learning opportunities such as those conducted by the Centre for Professional Learning will also be useful in supporting these processes. For more information visit: http://cpl.asn.au/

Margaret Vos has 36 years’ experience as a high school History teacher in NSW Public Schools. In that time, she has regularly taught Ancient History, Modern History and History Extension. Margaret co – wrote Ancient Quest (a junior History textbook) and has been involved in the professional development of teachers (including helping teachers introduce History Extension as a subject in their schools). Margaret has also contributed to curriculum development processes throughout her career.