History: Global Empires Units 1 and 2


Did you know that Portuguese is the official language of East Timor, a sovereign nation within the Indonesian Archipelago? Did you know that potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate and vanilla came from South America? Did you know that Japanese Samurai defended Dutch spice operations from English raiders?

In Global Empires Units 1 and 2 you will explore the roots of these surprising facts and many others by examining the creation and growth of European maritime empires between 1400 and 1775.

With Eurasia dominated by land empires from China to Central Europe, the kingdoms of the West set out into the Atlantic to find a new trade route to India. In the process they created empires that spanned the globe and shaped the modern world.

Unit 1 focuses on why and how the seafaring nations of Western Europe established territories outside of their borders. We also look at the changes that occurred across early-modern societies in tandem with empire building.

Unit 2 focuses on the British Empire in North America, its relationship with rival empires, indigenous peoples and colonists.

Who is it for?

Global Empires is for students who are interested in how the political map of the modern world came to be and the forces that shaped it and continue to shape it today. If you enjoy reading and learning about history and plan to study it in Year 12, Global Empires will give you a great background into the events that are studied in History Revolutions Units 3 and 4.

What do you do?

You will be involved in a range of historical learning activities such as analysing visual and written primary sources, researching secondary sources, producing essay and short answer questions and participating in forum discussions. You are expected to do some independent research into subject topics.

What skills do you need?

You need sound written English skills and an enquiring mind.

What skills do you develop?

You will develop critical reading and thinking skills as you pull together historical evidence to form your own views of the past. Utilising weekly “readers” as well as online resources, internet classrooms and class discussion forums to help develop understanding, you will develop an awareness of historical thinking skills while structuring written responses that are needed throughout VCE.




You must have access to the internet in order to access this course. All weekly work will be completed and submitted online.

Things to think about

Students who wish to undertake History: Global Empires 1 and 2 will be interpreting primary sources from various time periods.

We expect students to allocate 4 to 6 hours per week of study towards this subject.

Student-specific weekly feedback is provided by your teacher, but students who fall too far behind in their weekly task requirements will not receive the feedback they need in order to consistently improve.

Things you can do now

There are lots of books, novels and movies that look at the Silk Roads, the Spanish Inquisition, the Conquistadors, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the Slave Triangle.

Read anything you can get your hands on that relates to these eras in history. Some of our suggestions (although certainly not limited to):

  • The Constant Princess, Philippa Gregory
  • Torquemada, Howard Fast
  • Blood Work, Holly Tucker
  • The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson
  • Candide, Voltaire.

Similarly, here is a list of movies that should get you in the mood for this subject:

  • Master and Commander
  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise
  • Amazing Grace
  • Amadeus
  • The New World
  • The Libertine
  • The Duchess
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Luther.

Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.



Things to have a look at

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