History: Revolutions Units 3 and 4
In this subject we will look in depth at two major revolutions that have shaped the world as we know it – the French Revolution (1774-1795) and the Chinese Revolution (1912-1971). These were moments of radical social and political change where deliberate attempts were made to break with past traditions and ruling regimes in order to transform society and government.
In Unit 3 we study the French Revolution and in Unit 4 the Chinese Revolution. We will start by examining the different theories and ongoing arguments about how these revolutions came about. We will consider the role that different ideas, events, individuals and popular movements might have had in creating a revolutionary situation.
We will then focus on how the revolutionaries went about trying to create a new society. We will consider how the new regimes were both threatened and radicalised by factors such as political dissent, civil war, economic breakdown and wars of foreign intervention. We will evaluate historical interpretations about the success of the revolution, the new regime’s consolidation of power, their compromise of revolutionary ideology and the degree of change brought to each society.
Who is it for?
This subject is designed for students who are:
- curious about the past
- open-minded when considering new ideas
- willing to argue their point of view using persuasive evidence
- passionate about learning how revolutionary events have shaped, and are continuing to shape the world today.
Studying history is a great stepping stone for future study and can open the door to numerous future careers. History students often go on to study and work in areas of history, law, politics, academia, literature, government policy, library systems, archaeology, sociology, business management and education. The skills you develop in this subject are broadly applicable in almost every context in which you might find yourself.
What do you do?
Activities you will engage in include:
- writing clear and persuasive arguments, based on evidence
- reading and analysing primary and secondary historical sources in order to better understand different historical interpretations, and the ideas and biases that lie behind them
- judging how different ideas and ideologies (such as the Enlightenment, Imperialism and Marxism) helped to cause and shape each revolution
- judging the importance that different revolutionary individuals and groups had in bringing about change
- understanding, analysing and critiquing differing interpretations given by well-known historians
What skills do you need?
This course requires a lot of reading, analysis and writing. The skills you need are:
- reading strategies such as skimming and scanning to help you to break down and manage the weekly reading
- a note-taking system
- good written communication skills
- a questioning and curious attitude
- good time management.
What skills do you develop?
By the end of the year you should have developed:
- a range of different critical thinking and reasoning skills
- a proficiency in analysing evidence and putting forward detailed and convincing arguments
- an ability to understand, evaluate and critique the interpretations of different historians
- an understanding of how the historical debates that are covered in this course still impact and shape our ideas, leaders and society today.
Required textbook: Unit 4: China Rising, 2nd edition, Tom Ryan, HTAV Publishing
Things to think about
History: Revolutions is very popular, but also very challenging. In order to successfully complete both Units, you will need to commit to undertaking a substantial amount of reading each week. You will also need to keep up to date with your weekly work submissions and keep in regular contact with your teacher.
Things you can do now
As we spend Unit 3 focusing on the French Revolution, that is where you should start.
- Watch this PBS documentary on the French Revolution (YouTube: approx. 90mins)
- Watch this BBC documentary on the art and symbols of the French Revolution (YouTube: approx. 60mins)
- Go to your local library (or school library) and borrow another book on the French Revolution to read over the summer holidays. If you’d like a narrative history, try this. If you’d like a short introductory history book, try this one.
- If you would like to learn a bit more about the Chinese Revolution (Unit 4), watch this documentary entitled China: A Century of Revolution (Part 1 – 1h 53m: Part 2 – 1h 54m)
Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.
Things to have a look at
The French Revolution
The French Revolution
A great introduction to the French Revolution (Spark Notes).