As you’ve likely heard by now, NESA is in the process of overhauling practically the entire HSC syllabus, including HSC Modern History.

The biggest change to the Modern History syllabus is about to be encountered by students.

Gone are the days of the source based WWI study; the HSC Modern History students will begin their HSC Course with the new core study, Power and Authority in the Modern World 1919- 1946.

Sounds a bit vague, right?

So, are you wondering what exactly will you be studying, and how will it be assessed?

This article will explore new HSC Modern History syllabus and help break down the Core Study: Power and Authority in the Modern World. 

What’s the New Core Module All About?

Classes will spend 30 hours studying the new core, in which they will “investigate the rise of fascist, totalitarian and military movements after WWI.”

The syllabus is split into two parts: a ‘Survey’ (3 hours) and a ‘Focus of Study’ (27 hours).

Part 1: Survey – WW1 Peace Treaties

The Survey section of the syllabus acts to give students background context to the study, with an “overview of the treaties that ended WWI and their consequences.”

This will help students to understand and evaluate factors contributing to the development of political regimes in the countries examined in the Focus of Study.

Part 2: Focus of Study – Rise of Dictatorships after WW1

Next the module continues from this with the focus of study, starting with “the conditions that enabled dictators to rise to power” and the features of dictatorships in Russia, Italy and Japan.

This means that students will likely learn about social, political and economic issues that allowed dictatorships to emerge, the structure and ideology of these regimes, and how social and political life changed under them.

From here, the bulk of the syllabus resembles the old National Study of Germany: 1918-1939, with students studying Nazi Germany from 1933-1939 as a key example of Power and Authority.

In the study of Germany, students will thoroughly learn about how the Nazi Regime consolidated power, by studying party ideology, key individuals and the means by which authority in the totalitarian state was maintained.

Students will also look at how social and cultural life, particularly for minority groups, was impacted by the regime.

The Core Study concludes by looking at ‘The Search for Peace and Security,’ involving a comparative of the territorial and authoritarian ambitions of Germany and Japan in the 20th Century.

Students will also learn about the formation of the League of Nations and the United Nations, and the purpose and powers of these organisations in maintaining international peace and security.

How will I be assessed?

The requirements for assessment for the new HSC Modern History Syllabus have changed.

Internal HSC Assessment

This applies to the entirety of the new Year 12 HSC Modern History course, and the assessment for the Core Study will fit into the above requirements, however exactly how your school assesses you within these guidelines is up to them.

However, a source analysis style assessment is quite likely, as this will allow students to practice for trials and HSC. 

External HSC Assessment

NESA has provided a sample exam paper outlining what the 2019 HSC Modern History Exam will look like. You can check it out here.

Based on this sample paper, the Core Study takes up one quarter of the HSC exam, with a source-based, short answer section worth 25 marks. In other words, you’ll be provided with sources to analyse and use in your short answer responses about the Core Study.

This is what you’ll be assessed on for the Core Study in the HSC Exam:

The NESA sample paper suggests there will be 3-4 questions which can relate to both the Survey and the Focus of Study, with at least one question worth 10-15 marks.

In this section, you will be required to analyse and interpret sources, and apply your own knowledge in order to answer the questions.

The source booklet will contain a variety of primary and secondary sources in different mediums.

Not all will directly relate to the study of Germany, meaning sources and questions may be also be about WWI peace treaties, the study of Russia, Japan and Italy, or the League of Nations and the UN.

Unlike previous years, the 10-15 mark question at the end of the section won’t necessarily be a source analysis question, however other questions throughout may ask you to analyse a source, or assess its perspective or value.

So, what do I need to know?

At the end of the Power and Authority Study, students should have a thorough knowledge of the features of the Nazi Regime and what life was like in Germany between 1933-1939.

You should have understanding of the totalitarian regimes that developed in Russia, Italy and Japan, and be able to draw comparisons between the nations studied.

The impacts of WWI peace treaties, as well as the subsequent formation of the League of Nations, and later the United Nations as part of the peace process is also important to know.

In addition, it would be beneficial to know a variety of primary and secondary sources relating to the study, and have strong source analysis skills to apply in the HSC exam.

Ultimately, students should be able to form a “critical perspective” on the exercise of power and authority between 1919 and 1946, and be able to support this view with relevant and detailed historical information.

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