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NSW Syllabuses

History K–10 - Stage 4 The Ancient to the Modern World (50 hours minimum teaching time)


The overview is approximately 10% of teaching time of The Ancient to the Modern World. The overview may be taught separately or may be integrated with the depth studies.

Historical context of the overview

The later Roman empire was transformed by becoming Christian and dividing into an eastern and a western empire. Both empires were weakened by a series of invasions. After the collapse of the Roman empire in the west, the Christian church provided the cultural foundation for the emergence of European medieval society. One of the important features of this society was feudalism.

Islam, meanwhile, had spread from the Arabian Peninsula and by the mid-seventh century dominated North Africa and the Middle East. In the late eleventh century Christianity and Islam clashed in a series of wars known as the Crusades. The Christian goal of occupying Muslim Jerusalem and the Holy Land ultimately failed. In the mid-fifteenth century the Islamic Ottomans finally captured Constantinople, the capital of the eastern Roman empire. This victory consolidated their empire which then commanded the eastern Mediterranean.

In the meantime, western European navigators discovered new trade routes to Asia by sailing around Africa or heading west, across the Atlantic, to encounter the Americas. These voyages opened up a new understanding of the world at a time when western Europe was embracing the learning of ancient Greece and Rome. This expansion of knowledge, experience and confidence is now known as the Renaissance. In Europe it heralded the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment which created the modern world. 

  • Students briefly outline:
  • the transformation of the Roman world and the spread of Christianity and Islam
  • key features of the medieval world (feudalism, trade routes, voyages of discovery, religion, contact and conflict)
  • the emergence of ideas about the world and the place of people in it by the end of the period (such as the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment).
  • Depth Studies

  • There are three (3) Ancient to the Modern World depth studies.
  • Key inquiry questions for the following three (3) Ancient to the Modern World Depth Studies are:
  • How did societies change from the end of the ancient period to the beginning of the modern age?
  • What key beliefs and values emerged and how did they influence societies?
  • What were the causes and effects of contact between societies in this period?
  • Which significant people, groups and ideas from this period have influenced the world today?
The Ancient to the Modern World [50 hours minimum teaching time]
Depth Study 4 Depth Study 5 Depth Study 6

The Western and Islamic World

ONE of the following to be studied:

  • The Vikings 
  • Medieval Europe
  • The Ottoman Empire 
  • Renaissance Italy

The Asia-Pacific World

ONE of the following to be studied:

  • Angkor/Khmer Empire 
  • Japan under the Shoguns 
  • The Polynesian expansion across the Pacific

Expanding Contacts

ONE of the following to be studied:

  • Mongol expansion 
  • The Black Death in Asia, Europe and Africa 
  • The Spanish Conquest of the Americas
  • Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Colonisation and Contact History