An Overview of the Australian Curriculum (History)

The Australian Curriculum from Foundation to Year 10 is organised through two strands:

  • Historical Knowledge and Understanding (content and historical concepts)
  • Historical Skills, including chronology and use of historical terms and concepts, historical questions and research, analysis and use of sources, perspectives and interpretations, and explanation and communication.

Included in the study of the Australian Curriculum History, English, Mathematics and Science are essential life-skills and priorities for the education of Australian children during the twenty-first century. These include:

1. Seven general capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Competence in information and communication technology
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Ethical behaviour
  • Personal and social competence
  • Intercultural understanding.

2. Three cross-curriculum priorities

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability.

The History Curriculum includes inquiry questions over all the years to assist in the teaching of historical knowledge, understandings (concepts) and skills. A selection of these inquiry questions are provided here.

Foundation Year: Personal and Family Histories

  • What is my history and how do I know?
  • What stories do other people tell about the past?
  • How can stories of the past be told and shared?

Year 2: The Past in the Present

  • What aspects of the past can you see today? What do they tell us?
  • What remains of the past are important in the local community? Why?
  • How have changes in technology shaped our daily life?

Year 4: First Contacts

  • Why did the great journeys of exploration occur?
  • What was life like for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples before the arrival of Europeans?
  • Why did Europeans settle in Australia?
  • What was the nature and consequences of contact between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and early traders, explorers and settlers?

Year 6: Australia as a nation (after 1900)

  • Why and how did Australia become a nation?
  • How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?
  • Who were the people who came to Australia? Why did they come?
  • What contribution have significant individuals and groups made to the development of Australian society?

Year 8: The Ancient to the Modern World

  • How did societies change from the end of the ancient period to the beginning of the modern age?
  • What key beliefs and values emerged and how did they influence societies?
  • What were the causes and effects of contact between societies in this period?
  • Which significant people, groups and ideas from this period have influenced the world today?

Year 10: The Modern World and Australia

  • How did the nature of global conflict change during the twentieth century?
  • What were the consequences of World War II? How did these consequences shape the modern world?
  • How was Australian society affected by other significant global events and changes in this period?

To read the inquiry questions for each of the years and details on the content, concepts and skills from Foundation to Year 10 go to the following site:

The structure of the curriculum varies between Foundation to Year 6 and secondary school, Years 7 to 10.

Foundation to Year 6 has a description of the content, concepts, historical skills and inquiry questions.

Years 7 to 10 also includes content, concepts, historical skills and inquiry questions as well as an overview of the era and a choice of depth studies.

Year 7 The Ancient World (approximately 60,000 BCE to c 650 CE) *

The depth studies include:

  • Investigating the ancient past
  • The Mediterranean World. Students can investigate Egypt or Greece or Rome.
  • The Asian World. Students can investigate either China or India.

*Note: Before the Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE) were originally the mandated terms to describe the time periods in the Australian Curriculum, but Before Christ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD) are now also acceptable.

Year 8 The Ancient to the Modern World (c 650CE to c 1750)

The depth studies include:

  • The Western and Islamic World. Students can investigate one of the following contexts: the Vikings (790–1066); Renaissance Italy(c 1400–c 1600); Medieval Europe (c 590–1500); The Ottoman Empire (c 1299–c 1683).
  • The Asia-Pacific World. Students investigate one depth study from the following contexts: Angkor/Khmer Empire (c 802–c 1327); Shogunate Japan (c 794–1867); Polynesian expansion across the Pacific (c 700–1756).
  • Expanding contacts. Students can investigate one of the following depth studies: Mongol expansion (c 1206–c 1368); The Spanish Conquest of the Americas (c 1492– c 1572); The Black Death in Asia, Europe and Africa (14th century plague).

Year 9 The making of the Modern World (1750–1918)

The depth studies include:

  • Making a Better World? Students can investigate one of the following contexts: Progressive ideas and movements (1750–1918); The Industrial Revolution (1750–1914); Movement of peoples (1750–1901).
  • Australia and Asia. Students can investigate one of the following contexts: Asia and the world (the key features of one Asia society such as China, Japan, India, Dutch East Indies) or Making a nation (social, economic and political development of Australia from 1788 to 1914).
  • World War I (1914–1918) including a study of the causes, locations and nature of the war as well as its impact on Australia and commemoration.

Year 10 The Modern World and Australia (1918 to the present)

The depth studies include:

  • World War II (1939–1945) including an overview of the causes and course of the war, the experience of Australians during the war, impact on the home front and the significance of the war.
  • Rights and freedoms (1945–the present) including information on the Universal declaration of Human Rights, the US Civil Rights Movement and Aboriginal activism in Australia.
  • The globalising world. Students can investigate one of the following contexts: Popular culture (1954–present); The environment movement (1960s–present); Migration experiences (1945–present).

The latest version of the Australian Curriculum: History can be found at the following site: