History: Global Empires Units 1 and 2


Did you know that Portuguese is the official language of East Timor? That potatoes come from South America? That Japanese Samurai defended Dutch spice islands 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 the maritime empires of Western Europe between 1400 and 1775.

In a world dominated by land empires that stretched from China to Central Europe, the kingdoms of the West set out into the Atlantic hoping to establish a sea route to India. In the process they created new empires that spanned the globe and created the modern world.

Unit 1 focuses on the motivations of the seafaring nations of Western Europe and how they established overseas territories. We also look at the revolutions in thought that occurred in conjunction with empire building.

Unit 2 focuses on how empires were run, the relationship between competing empires, indigenous peoples and colonists.

Who is it for?

Global Empires is for students who are interested in how Western Europeans came to have so much influence in the modern world. 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), especially France and America.

What do you do?

Students 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. Students are also expected to do some of their own research and reading into subject topics, therefore having reliable access to the internet is essential.

What skills do you need?

Students need sound written English skills and an enquiring mind.

What skills do you develop?

Students will develop critical reading and thinking skills as they pull together historical evidence to form their own views of the past. Utilising weekly “readers” as well as online resources, internet classrooms and class discussion forums to help develop understanding, student 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