3.2 Understanding the modern world

3.2.1 Section A: Period studies

1A America, 1840–1895: Expansion and consolidation

This period study focuses on the development of America during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of expansion and consolidation – the expansion to the west and consolidation of the United States as a nation.

Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: Expansion: opportunities and challenges

  • The geography of North America: attitudes to the Great American Desert; the belief in ‘Manifest Destiny’.
  • Why the early settlers went west and the challenges they faced: Brigham Young and the Mormons; the pioneer migrant farmers, the journey west; the miners.
  • Dealing with a different culture: the Plains Indians’ way of life; early American Government policy towards the Plains Indians; the Permanent Indian Frontier; a changing relationship with the Plains Indians.

Part two: Conflict across America

  • Increasing conflict on the Plains: the Fort Laramie Treaty (1851) and the failure of the policy of concentration; the Indian Wars (1862–1867): reasons for and consequences of the Wars; Sand Creek Massacre; Fetterman's Trap.
  • The background to the American Civil War: differences between North and South, issues of slavery, westward expansion and free states abolitionism; breakdown of the Missouri Compromise, John Brown, the roles of Lincoln and Jefferson Davis; the social and economic impact of the American Civil War on civilian populations.
  • Coming to terms with the Mormons: the Mountain Meadow Massacre and its aftermath.

Part three: Consolidation: forging the nation

  • The aftermath of the American Civil War: the 13th Amendment; Civil Rights Act; reconstruction in the South, 1866–1877; carpetbaggers; the balance of Federal and State powers.
  • The continued settlement of the west: the Homesteaders, reasons for going west; government actions and laws; land and railroads; farming problems and solutions.
  • The resolution of the Indian problem’ after 1865: the small reservations policy; attitudes to the native Americans; Battle of the Little Big Horn; The Dawes Act; Battle of Wounded Knee; the closing of the frontier and its impact on native Americans.

1B Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship

This period study focuses on the development of Germany during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of democracy and dictatorship – the development and collapse of democracy and the rise and fall of Nazism.

Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: Germany and the growth of democracy

  • Kaiser Wilhelm and the difficulties of ruling Germany: the growth of parliamentary government; the influence of Prussian militarism; industrialisation; social reform and the growth of socialism; the domestic importance of the Navy Laws.
  • Impact of the First World War: war weariness, economic problems; defeat; the end of the monarchy; post-war problems including reparations, the occupation of the Ruhr and hyperinflation.
  • Weimar democracy: political change and unrest, 1919–1923, including Spartacists, Kapp Putsch and the Munich Putsch; the extent of recovery during the Stresemann era (1924–1929): economic developments including the new currency, Dawes Plan and the Young Plan; the impact of international agreements on recovery; Weimar culture.

Part two: Germany and the Depression

  • The impact of the Depression: growth in support for the Nazis and other extremist parties (1928–1932), including the role of the SA; Hitler’s appeal.
  • The failure of Weimar democracy: election results; the role of Papen and Hindenburg and Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor.
  • The establishment of Hitler’s dictatorship: the Reichstag Fire; the Enabling Act; elimination of political opposition; trade unions; Rohm and the Night of the Long Knives; Hitler becomes Führer.

Part three: The experiences of Germans under the Nazis

  • Economic changes: benefits and drawbacks; employment; public works programmes; rearmament; self-sufficiency; the impact of war on the economy and the German people, including bombing, rationing, labour shortages, refugees.
  • Social policy and practice: reasons for policies, practices and their impact on women, young people and youth groups; education; control of churches and religion; Aryan ideas, racial policy and persecution; the Final Solution.
  • Control: Goebbels, the use of propaganda and censorship; Nazi culture; repression and the police state and the roles of Himmler, the SS and Gestapo; opposition and resistance, including White Rose group, Swing Youth, Edelweiss Pirates and July 1944 bomb plot.

1C Russia, 1894–1945: Tsardom and communism

This period study focuses on the development of Russia during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of autocracy and communism – the fall of the Tsardom and the rise and consolidation of communism.

Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: The end of Tsardom

  • Russia’s economy and society: industrialisation; living and working conditions in cities and villages.
  • Nicholas II’s autocracy and the court: growth of revolutionary opposition; the 1905 Revolution and October Manifesto; the impact of, and reactions to, attempts to reform Russia up to 1914; the Dumas and political stalemate; Stolypin's policies – land reform, industry and use of oppression.
  • The First World War: the impact of military defeats on Tsarist government; social and economic effects of war on cities and the countryside; unpopularity of the Romanovs, including the role of Rasputin; the Tsar’s abdication.

Part two: Lenin's new society

  • The Provisional Government: its failure to deal with Russia's social, economic and military problems; Lenin and Trotsky; the growth of Bolshevik organisation; the October/November Revolution.
  • The impact of Lenin's dictatorship: the end of the First World War; the Cheka; the Red Army; causes, nature and consequences of the Civil War and Bolshevik success; propaganda.
  • Social and economic developments: War Communism; the Kronstadt Rising; the New Economic Policy (NEP); the achievements of Lenin and Trotsky.

Part three: Stalin's USSR

  • Stalin the dictator: the power struggle to succeed Lenin; the control of the Communist party over government; the Terror and the Purges; the army; secret police; labour camps; censorship; the cult of personality; propaganda.
  • Stalin's modernisation of the USSR: collectivisation; the Five Year Plans; social and economic consequences for Kulaks, city dwellers, women, professional and industrial workers; the extent of modernisation.
  • Impact of the Second World War: Stalin's wartime leadership; political, economic and social problems caused by the Great Patriotic War up to 1945.

1D America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality

This period study focuses on the development of the USA during a turbulent half century of change. It was a period of opportunity and inequality – when some Americans lived the 'American Dream' whilst others grappled with the nightmare of poverty, discrimination and prejudice.

Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them.

Part one: American people and the 'Boom'

  • The ‘Boom’: benefits, advertising and the consumer society; hire purchase; mass production, including Ford and the motor industry; inequalities of wealth; Republican government policies; stock market boom.
  • Social and cultural developments: entertainment, including cinema and jazz; the position of women in society, including flappers.
  • Divided society: organised crime, prohibition and their impact on society; the causes of racial tension, the experiences of immigrants and the impact of immigration; the Ku Klux Klan; the Red Scare and the significance of the Sacco and Vanzetti case.

Part two: Bust – Americans' experiences of the Depression and New Deal

  • American society during the Depression: unemployment; farmers; businessmen; Hoover’s responses and unpopularity; Roosevelt's election as president.
  • The effectiveness of the New Deal on different groups in society: successes and limitations including opposition towards the New Deal from Supreme Court, Republicans and Radical politicians; Roosevelt's contribution as president; popular culture.
  • The impact of the Second World War: America’s economic recovery; Lend Lease; exports; social developments, including experiences of African-Americans and women.

Part three: Post-war America

  • Post-war American society and economy: consumerism and the causes of prosperity; the American Dream; McCarthyism; popular culture, including Rock and Roll and television.
  • Racial tension and developments in the Civil Rights campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s: Segregation laws; Martin Luther King and peaceful protests; Malcolm X and the Black Power Movement; Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968.
  • America and the ‘Great Society': the social policies of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson relating to poverty, education and health; the development and impact of feminist movements in the 1960s and early 1970s, including the fight for equal pay; the National Organisation for Women, Roe v Wade (1973), the Supreme Court ruling on equal rights (1972) and opposition to Equal Rights Amendment.

3.2.2 Section B: Wider world depth studies

Conflict and tension, 1894–1918

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of the Great Powers and other states. It focuses on the causes, nature and conclusion of the First World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred, and why it proved difficult to bring the war to a conclusion. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: The causes of the First World War

  • The Alliance System: the Triple Alliance; Franco-Russian Alliance; relations between the ‘Entente’ powers; the crises in Morocco (1905 and 1911) and the Balkans (1908–1909), and their effects on international relations.
  • Anglo-German rivalry: Britain and challenges to Splendid Isolation; Kaiser Wilhelm’s aims in foreign policy, including Weltpolitik; colonial tensions; European rearmament, including the Anglo-German naval race.
  • Outbreak of war: Slav nationalism and relations between Serbia and Austria-Hungary; the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and its consequences; the July Crisis; the Schlieffen Plan and Belgium; reasons for the outbreak of hostilities and the escalation of the conflict.

Part two: The First World War: stalemate

  • The Schlieffen Plan: the reasons for the plan, its failure, including the Battle of Marne and its contribution to the stalemate.
  • The Western Front: military tactics and technology, including trench warfare; the war of attrition; key battles, including Verdun, the Somme and Passchendaele, the reasons for, the events and significance of these battles.
  • The wider war: the war on other fronts; Gallipoli and its failure; the events and significance of the war at sea, including Jutland, the U-Boat campaign and convoys.

Part three: Ending the war

  • Changes in the Allied Forces: consequences of the Bolshevik Revolution and the withdrawal of Russia on Germany strategy; the reasons for and impact of the entry of the USA into the war.
  • Military developments in 1918 and their contribution to Germany’s defeat: the evolution of tactics and technology; Ludendorff the German Spring Offensive; the Allied advance during The Hundred Days.
  • Germany surrenders: impact of the blockade; abdication of the Kaiser; armistice; the contribution of Haig and Foch to Germany’s defeat.

Conflict and tension, 1918–1939

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different individuals and states including the Great Powers. It looks at concepts such as national self-determination, ideas of internationalism and the challenges of revising the peace settlement. It focuses on the causes of the Second World War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the issues which caused it. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: Peacemaking

  • The armistice: aims of the peacemakers; Wilson and the Fourteen Points; Clemenceau and Lloyd George; the extent to which they achieved their aims.
  • The Versailles Settlement: Diktat; territorial changes; military restrictions; war guilt and reparations.
  • Impact of the treaty and wider settlement: reactions of the Allies; German objections; strengths and weaknesses of the settlement, including the problems faced by new states.

Part two: The League of Nations and international peace

  • The League of Nations: its formation and convenant; organisation; membership and how it changed; the powers of the League; the work of the League's agencies; the contribution of the League to peace in the 1920s, including the successes and failures of the League, such as the Aaland Islands, Upper Silesia, Vilna, Corfu and Bulgaria.
  • Diplomacy outside the League: Locarno treaties and the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
  • The collapse of the League: the effects of the Depression; the Manchurian and Abyssinian crises and their consequences; the failure of the League to avert war in 1939.

Part three: The origins and outbreak of the Second World War

  • The development of tension: Hitler's aims and Allied reactions; the Dollfuss Affair; the Saar; German rearmament, including conscription; the Stresa Front; Anglo-German Naval Agreement.
  • Escalation of tension: remilitarisation of the Rhineland; Mussolini, the Axis and the Anti-Comintern Pact; Anschluss; reasons for and against the policy of appeasement; the Sudeten Crisis and Munich; the ending of appeasement.
  • The outbreak of war: the occupation of Czechoslovakia; the role of the USSR and the Nazi-Soviet Pact; the invasion of Poland and outbreak of war, September 1939; responsibility for the outbreak of war, including that of key individuals: Hitler, Stalin and Chamberlain.

Conflict and tension between East and West, 1945–1972

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different states and individuals and the ideologies they represented. It considers revolutionary movements during this time. It focuses on the causes and events of the Cold War and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the tensions which arose during the Cold War. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: The origins of the Cold War

  • The end of the Second World War: Yalta and Potsdam Conferences; the division of Germany; contrasting attitudes and ideologies of the USA and the USSR, including the aims of Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Attlee and Truman; effect of the dropping of the atom bomb on post-war superpower relations.
  • The Iron Curtain and the evolution of East-West rivalry: Soviet expansion in East Europe; US policies; the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, their purpose and Stalin’s reaction; Cominform; Comecon; Yugoslavia; the Berlin Blockade and Airlift.

Part two: The development of the Cold War

  • The significance of events in Asia for superpower relations: USSR's support for Mao Tse-tung and Communist revolution in China, and the military campaigns waged by North Korea against the UN and by the Vietcong against France and the USA.
  • Military rivalries: the arms race; membership and purposes of NATO and the Warsaw Pact; the space race, including Sputnik, ICBMs, Polaris, Gagarin, Apollo.
  • The ‘Thaw’: Hungary, the protest movement and the reforms of Nagy; Soviet fears, how they reacted and the effects on the Cold War; the U2 Crisis and its effects on the Paris Peace Summit and the peace process.

Part three: Transformation of the Cold War

  • Berlin Wall: reasons for its construction and Kennedy’s response.
  • Tensions over Cuba: Castro’s revolution, the Bay of Pigs and the missile crisis: the roles of Castro, Khrushchev, Kennedy; fears of the USA and reaction to missiles on Cuba; dangers and results of crisis.
  • Czechoslovakia: Dubeck and the Prague Spring movement; USSR’s response to the reforms; the effects the Prague Spring had on East-West relations, including the Warsaw Pact; the Brezhnev Doctrine.
  • Easing of tension: sources of tension, including the Soviets' record on human rights; the reasons for Détente and for SALT 1; the part played by key individuals Brezhnev and Nixon.

Conflict and tension in Asia, 1950–1975

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different states and individuals and the ideologies they represented. It considers the role of nationalist movements in causing and sustaining conflict. It focuses on the causes and events of the Cold War in Asia and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the tensions which arose. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: Conflict in Korea

  • The causes of the Korean War: nationalism in Korea; US relations with China; the division of Korea; Kim Il Sung and Syngman Rhee; reasons why the North invaded the South in June 1950; US and the UN responses; USSR's absence from the UN.
  • The development of the Korean War: the UN campaign in South and North Korea; Inchon landings and recapture of South Korea; UN forces advance into North Korea; reaction of China and intervention of Chinese troops October 1950; the sacking of MacArthur.
  • The end of the Korean War: military stalemate around the 38th Parallel; peace talks and the armistice; impact of the Korean War for Korea, the UN and Sino-American relations.

Part two: Escalation of conflict in Vietnam

  • The end of French colonial rule: Dien Bien Phu and its consequences; Geneva Agreement, 1954; civil war in South Vietnam; opposition to Diem; the Vietcong – aims, support, leadership and guerrilla tactics and Ho Chi Minh.
  • The US involvement: the Domino Theory; intervention under Eisenhower and Kennedy; Strategic Hamlets programme.
  • Johnson’s War: the Gulf of Tonkin; the US response to Vietcong tactics; the mass bombing campaign; demands for peace and growing student protests in the USA; My Lai and its public impact; Search and Destroy tactics and impact; the Tet Offensive and its consequences for the war.

Part three: The ending of conflict in Vietnam

  • Nixon’s War: Vietnamisation; chemical warfare; bombing campaign of 1970–1972; relations with China; widening of the war into Laos and Cambodia.
  • Opposition to war: Kent State University; the importance of the media and TV in influencing public opinion; the context of the Watergate affair.
  • The end of the war: the Paris Peace talks; the role of Kissinger; the US withdrawal; fall of Saigon; the price of conflict; problems of Vietnam in 1975.

Conflict and tension, 1990–2009

This wider world depth study enables students to understand the complex and diverse interests of different groups, races, nations and rogue states. It focuses on conflict in the Gulf and Afghanistan and seeks to show how and why conflict occurred and why it proved difficult to resolve the tensions which arose. This study also considers the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change, as well as how they were affected by and influenced international relations.

Part one: Tensions in the Gulf

  • Regional instability: the consequences of the Iran-Iraq war; western and Russian interests in and attitudes towards Iran and Iraq, including the threat to oil supplies; the contribution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to tension in the Gulf and to motives for global terrorism.
  • The Gulf War,1990: reasons for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; the reactions and roles of Bush and Thatcher; the UN campaign against Saddam Hussein; consequences of the war; US influence in the region; Arab reactions.

Part two: The war on Al-Qaeda

  • Al-Qaeda: aims of Al-Qaeda and the role of Osama bin Laden; 11 September attacks.
  • Afghanistan: its reputation as a rogue state; the Taliban regime; western and Muslim attitudes to its policies; the problems faced by ethnic groups; the resurgence of the Taliban.
  • Bush’s war against terror: Bush's aims; Blair’s support for intervention – the 2001 US/UK operation; overthrow of the Taliban and collapse of its regime; UN peace conference; problems faced by Karzai’s government.

Part three: The Iraq War

  • Saddam Hussein's regime: treatment of Kurds and Shia Muslims; the debate about Iraq's links to Al-Qaeda and its reputation as a rogue state; religious divisions in Iraq; international attitudes towards Saddam Hussein; the role of the UN.
  • The invasion of Iraq 2003: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD); the military campaign; western interests, including oil; opposition to the invasion within Iraq and internationally; downfall of Saddam Hussein.
  • The impact of war on the Iraqi people and across the world; the Insurgency; elections and transfer of powers to National Assembly; global anti-US and anti-UK terrorism; 2007 US troop surge; stability of Iraq by the end of Bush's Presidency.