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Grade 12 History Essay Topics

Let’s see, for your Ancient History 101 course, your topics so far look like this:

  • The history of the landline phone
  • Life before the Internet
  • A world without Snapchat

Even though these topics might seem like ancient history, they’re probably not what your course is about or what your professor had in mind when she assigned the paper.

But what is there to write about in any history course? That stuff is so old and boring, right? Not necessarily. Here are 13 history essay topics to bring your essay to life.

But wait…I don’t know how to write a history paper

Maybe you’re not even at the point where you should be picking a topic just yet. Maybe you still need to understand more about how to write a history paper.

If that’s the case, check out How to Write a History Paper That Will Go Down in History. Then finish reading this post to learn more about finding a topic and see those 13 history essay topics you came here for.

13 History Essay Topics That Will Bring Your Essay to Life

Here are 13 history essay topics to help you find the perfect subject for your paper. I’ve also included a few links to example essays for even more historical inspiration!

1. How did Homer influence history (and literature), and did he really exist? No, I don’t mean Homer Simpson. I mean the ancient poet, Homer. But if you’re really creative and your professor allows some flexibility in assignments, maybe you can write a compare and contrast paper about how both Homers have influenced history.

2. Examine Hitler’s rise to power. You might consider several elements of Adolf Hitler’s childhood and early adulthood that influenced his desire for power. You might also write about larger, societal influences and what allowed Hitler to become so powerful.

3. Compare and contrast religions. Examine two (or more) religions and compare and contrast various elements, such as how they treat death, the afterlife, or marriage. I’d suggest picking two to three  topics and examining them in-depth. Don’t try to compare the religions as a whole without any specific criteria.

You might also examine one religion more closely (such as Buddhism, Confucianism, or Christianity) and examine how the religion is different in various parts of the world. Again, pick two to three criteria to compare and/or contrast.

Read Compare and Contrast Essay Tips from a Kibin Editor to learn more about writing a compare and contrast essay.

4. Were the Dark Ages really that dark? The Dark Ages were long before the days without cell phones and Internet. During this time, millions died from war and sickness, but this was also a time of great ideas and discoveries. Thus, is the name “Dark Ages” an appropriate title for the time period?

5. Examine historical myths and legends. Did people like Count Dracula or Robin Hood exist, or were they simply subjects of great legends (and movies)?

Remember, if you’re writing an argument about whether they really existed, you’ll need to present evidence to support your argument but will also need to address the counterargument.

Read How to Write a Winning Argument Essay to learn more about argument writing.

6. Examine the causes and effects of the Cold War. What were the underlying causes of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union? What were the effects of the Cold War on the United States, the Soviet Union, or other parts of the world?

If you want to write about the Cold War, you could also write about the events that precipitated the ending of the Cold War.

Read this tip sheet on cause and effect papers for more help with this type of essay.

7. Examine the causes and effects of China’s one-child policy. Why did China implement a one-child policy, and what effect did this have on the country and its citizens? (Note: In 2015, the government began to phase out the one-child policy. Why was this necessary?)

8. Argue that there are positive effects of war. Most argue that there are only negative results of war. However, some argue that war produces positive changes in culture and encourages patriotism. (You might examine war in general or focus your argument on a specific war.)

9. Compare the Salem Witch Trials to another historical event. The era of the Salem Witch Trials was a time of fear and paranoia. Compare this time period to other times of hysteria, such as The Red Scare or the months following the September 11 terror attacks.

10. Examine the war on drugs throughout history. The war on drugs isn’t a recent phenomenon. Examine the use, influence, and prosecution of drugs throughout history.

You could chronicle the more recent developments of the war on drugs (the past 20–30 years), or you might try another angle and consider opium use and trade in China or the use and cultivation of spiritual and medicinal plants in Native American culture.

11. Argue how a specific invention changed history. This type of paper might examine inventions, such as electricity, television, the phone, or the personal computer. Or the paper might focus on medical discoveries, such as the polio vaccine or penicillin.

12. How has feminism either positively or negatively changed society? This type of paper might present both positive and negative aspects or examine only positive or only negative influences. You might focus your discussion on one society or compare and contrast different regions or countries.

13. Examine the historical significance of the number 13. Why is 13 considered an unlucky number in the United States? Some trace the unlucky origins back to the Bible. Others point to mythology. You might examine the number’s origin and why the number is still considered unlucky today (think Friday the 13th).

But wait…I don’t know anything about any of these history essay topics

You probably know something about some of these history essay topics, but maybe not enough to write a successful paper. This simply means that you’ll need to do some research.

Locating a variety of resources, including primary and secondary sources, will help you turn the boring textbook stuff into a more lively and interesting read.

If you need even more help with research, check out these posts:

Ready to share your draft and have the Kibin editors provide feedback? Send it our way!

Happy writing!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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basic education Department: Basic Education REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA HISTORY EXAMINATION GUIDELINES GRADE 12 2017 These guidelines consist of 11 pages. Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 2 Examination Guidelines TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE 1. INTRODUCTION 3 2. ASSESSMENT IN GRADE 12 PRESCRIBED TOPICS 3. ASSESSING SOURCE-BASED QUESTIONS 7 4. ASSESSING ESSAY QUESTIONS 9 5. CONCLUSION 11 Copyright reserved Please turn over in History DBE/2017 3 Examination Guidelines 1. INTRODUCTION The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for History outlines the nature and purpose of the subject History. This guides the philosophy underlying the teaching and assessment of the subject in Grade 12. The purpose of these Examination Guidelines is to: • Provide clarity on the depth and scope of the content to be assessed in the Grade 12 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination in History. • Assist teachers to adequately prepare learners for the examinations. This document deals with the final Grade 12 external examinations. It does not deal in any depth with the School-Based Assessment (SBA). These Examination Guidelines should be read in conjunction with: • The National Curriculum Statement (NCS) Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS): History • The National Protocol of Assessment: An addendum to the policy document, the National Senior Certificate: A qualification at Level 4 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), regarding the National Protocol for Assessment (Grades R-12) • The national policy pertaining to the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement, Grades R-12 Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 4 Examination Guidelines 2. ASSESSMENT IN GRADE 12 Assessment in the FET phase comprises essay and source-based questions. The structure of the examination papers is as follows: • In the September examination (preparatory) and final external examinations, Grade 12 learners will be required to write TWO question papers of a 3 hour duration each. Both question papers consist of SECTION A and SECTION B. • SECTION A consists of THREE source-based questions. Candidates will be required to answer at least ONE SOURCE-BASED question in each question paper. • SECTION B consists of THREE essay questions. Candidates will be required to answer at least ONE ESSAY question in each question paper. • Altogether a candidate will be required to answer THREE questions, which are as follows: ONE source-based question and ONE essay question. The third question can be either a source-based question or an essay question. Essay and source-based questions carry 50 marks each. • The total mark for each question paper is 150. Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 5 Examination Guidelines The prescribed topics for 2017 to 2019 will be assessed as follows: SECTION A: SOURCE-BASED QUESTIONS PAPER 1 (ONE question per topic will be set) SECTION B: ESSAY QUESTIONS PAPER 1 (ONE question per topic will be set) 1. Extension of the Cold War 1. The Cold War Question focus: The Cuban Missile Crisis Question focus: Case Studv: China • The roles of the USA and USSR in Cuba • Introduction: Establishment of Communist • The Cuban Missile Crisis China in 1949 (Background) • Containment and brinkmanship: Cuba as an • Cultural revolution example • Chinese relations with the Soviet Union and • Who was to blame for the Cold War in the USA from 1949 to 1973 Cuba? • China's changing relationships with neighbouring states: Tibet, India, Vietnam, Taiwan (in broad outline) • China as a superpower (in broad outline) • China's economic liberalisation on relations with the rest of the world since Mao's death 2. Independent Africa 2. Independent Africa Question focus: Africa in the Cold War: Question focus : Comparative case studies on Case study: Angola the Congo and Tanzania • Angola: Colonialism and independence • What were the ideas that influenced the • Outbreak of civil war in 1974 (MPLA and independent states? UNITA) • Political, economic, social and cultural • Reasons for and nature of involvement in successes and challenges faced by the Angola (USSR, USA, Cuba, China, South Africa); impact on regional stability • Significance of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale 1987 and 1988 Congo and Tanzania 3. Civil society protests from the 1950s to 3. Civil society protests from the 1950s to the 1970s the 1970s Question focus: The Black Power Movement Question focus: The US Civil Rights Movement • Reasons for the Black Power Movement • Reasons and origins of the Civil Rights • Formation of the Black Panther Party Movement in the USA • Roles of Stokely Carmichael and • Role, impact and influence of Martin Luther Malcolm X King Jr • Short-term and long-term gains • Forms of protest through civil disobedience: Montgomery bus boycott, sit-ins, marches, including those to Lincoln Memorial, Birmingham campaign and Selma- Montgomery marches • Short-term and long-term gains Copyright reserved Please turn over History 6 DBE/2017 Examination Guidelines PAPER 2 (ONE question per topic will be set) PAPER 2 (ONE question per topic will be set) 1. Civil Resistance, 1970s to 1980s: South 1. Civil Resistance, 1970s to 1980s: South Africa Africa Question focus: The challenge of Black Question focus: The crisis of apartheid in the Consciousness to the apartheid state 1980s • The nature and aims of Black Consciousness • Government attempts to reform apartheid • The role of Steve Biko • International response • Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) • International anti-apartheid movements • The challenge posed by the ideas of • Anti-Apartheid Movements in Britain and Black Consciousness to the state Ireland • The 1976 Soweto uprising-briefly, relating to • Activities of the Movements: sports boycott; the influence of BCM on the cultural boycott; academic boycott; students consumer boycott; disinvestment; sanctions; • The legacy of Black Consciousness on South release Mandela campaign African politics • Support for the anti-apartheid struggle in Africa: Frontline states 2. The coming of democracy to South Africa 2. The coming of democracy to South Africa and coming to terms with the past and coming to terms with the past Question focus: The TRC Question focus: Negotiated settlement • Reasons for the TRC hearings and the Government of National Unity • The debates concerning the TRC • Beginning of negotiations 1990-1991 • Positive aspects of the TRC • Breakdown of negotiations • Amnesty and reparations • Multiparty negotiation process resumes • Responses of political parties to the TRC • Ongoing violence and the final report of the TRC • Final road to democracy 1994 3. The end of the Cold War and a new order 3. The end of the Cold War and a new world 1989 to the present order Question focus: New World Order Question focus: The end of the Cold War: The • What is globalisation? events of 1989 • Emerging economies and different forms of • Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet Union capitalism: BRICS • The disintegration of the Soviet Union • South Africa's success in avoiding outright • Turning point in South Africa (the collapse of civil war and President Mandela's policy of the Soviet Union and its impact on South reconciliation • Responses to globalisation Africa) Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 7 Examination Guidelines 3. ASSESSING SOURCE-BASED QUESTIONS In the assessment of learners' ability to work with historical sources, the cognitive levels, the associated historical skills and the weighting of questions across grades must be taken into account. An elaboration is contained in the following table. COGNITIVE LEVELS HISTORICAL SKILLS WEIGHTING OF QUESTIONS TYPICAL QUESTIONS LEVEL 1 • Extract evidence from sources • Selection and organisation of relevant information from sources • Define historical concepts/terms 30% (15) • What information in the source tells you about ...? • Quote TWO reasons from the source ... • What do you understand by the term ...? LEVEL 2 • Interpretation of evidence from sources • Explain information gathered from sources • Analyse evidence from sources 40% (20) • What message does the cartoonist convey regarding ...? • Explain in your own words ... • Why do you think ...? LEVEL 3 • Interpret and evaluate evidence from sources • Engage with sources to determine its usefulness, reliability, bias and limitations • Compare and contrast interpretations and perspectives presented in sources and draw independent conclusions 30% (15) • Explain to what extent the evidence in Source 1 A... • Compare the evidence in Sources 2A and 2B and explain the differences... • Comment on the usefulness/ limitations/reliability of the information in Sources 3C and 3D ... Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 8 Examination Guidelines In the assessment of source-based questions, the following must be taken into account with regard to the cognitive levels and the wording of typical questions: • All Level 1 type questions require learners to extract information from sources and define historical concepts. These questions will carry a maximum of 2 marks. Question verbs that will be used to phrase these source-based questions include, amongst others, list, quote, identify, name. Typical questions may be phrased for example: What information in the source tells you about ...? Quote FOUR reasons why ... What do you understand by the term ...? • All Level 2 questions require learners to interpret, analyse and engage with evidence from the sources. These questions will carry a maximum of between 4 to 6 marks. Question verbs that may be used to phrase these source-based questions include, amongst others, explain, comment, describe and organise information logically from the sources. Typical questions may be phrased for example: What message does the cartoonist convey about...? Explain in your own words ... Why do you think...? • All Level 3 questions require learners to explain, for example, the different perspectives in sources (compare/contrast), draw conclusions about the reliability and usefulness of sources, etc. These questions will carry a maximum of between 4 to 8 marks and may be assessed using an analytical/holistic rubric. Question verbs that will be used to phrase these source-based questions include, amongst others, compare or contrast, evaluate, assess, explain to what extent you would agree/disagree, comment on the reliability of the evidence in a source, explain the usefulness, comment on the consequences, explain the limitations, justify, etc. Typical questions may be phrased for example: Explain to what extent ... Compare the evidence in both Sources 1A and IB and explain how you would account for the differences ... Comment on whether... • Paragraph questions will carry about 8 marks and will be assessed using an analytical/holistic rubric. Questions will be phrased whereby learners would be required to answer questions on Level 3 skills (compare/contrast; bias; usefulness; reliability). For example: explain the role, impact, causes, effects or significance of a specific historical event that is related to the respective key question. Typical questions may be phrased for example: ■ Use the information in the relevant sources and your own knowledge and write a paragraph explaining the impact/significance of ... ■ Explain why a historian would consider the information in both Sources 1A and IB useful when studying the consequences of ... ■ In what ways is the cartoonist's view (Source 2C) supported by the evidence presented in the other two sources... ■ Compare the evidence in Sources 3A and 3B and explain how the information in both sources differ regarding the ... ■ Explain why a historian might question the reliability of the evidence in Source 3C ... ■ Comment on the limitations of Source 3D for a historian studying . . . Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 9 Examination Guidelines 4. ASSESSING ESSAY QUESTIONS In the writing of essays, learners must be able to structure their argument in a logical and coherent manner. They need to select, organise and connect the relevant information so that they are able to present a reasonable sequence of facts or an effective argument to answer the question posed. It is essential that an essay has an introduction, a coherent and balanced body of evidence and a conclusion. In responding to essay questions learners should be able to: • Plan and structure an essay • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of the topic • Select and use relevant information from their own knowledge to answer the question • Develop and sustain a relevant line of argument • Write logically and coherently Typical questions may be phrased using the following descriptors, for example: 'Critically discuss ', 'Explain to what extent ...', 'Comment on...', 'Evaluate ...', 'Assess ...' Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 10 Examination Guidelines GLOBAL ASSESSMENT OF ESSAYS: TOTAL MARKS: 50 PRESENTATION CONTENT i LEVEL 7 Very well planned and structured Good synthesis of information. Developed an original, well balanced and independent line of argument with the use of evidence, sustained and defended the argument throughout. Independent conclusion is drawn from evidence to support the line of argument. LEVEL 6 Very well planned and structured essay. Developed a relevant line of argument, used to defend the argument Attempts to draw an independent conclusion from the evidence to support the line of argument. LEVEL 5 Well planned and structured essay. Attempts to develop a clear argument. Conclusion drawn from the evidence to support the line of argument. LEVEL 4 Planned and constructed an argument. Evidence is used to some extent to support the line of argument Conclusions reached based on evidence. LEVEL 3 Shows some evidence of a planned and constructed argument. Attempts to sustain a line of argument. Conclusions not clearly supported by evidence. LEVEL 2 Attempts to structure an answer. Largely descriptive, or some attempt at developing a line of argument. No attempt to draw a conclusion LEVEL 1 Little or no attempt to structure the essay. LEVEL 7 Question has been fully answered. Content selection fully relevant to line of argument. 47-50 43-46 LEVEL 6 Question has been answered. Content selection relevant to the line of argument. 43-46 40-42 38-39 LEVEL 5 Question answered to a great extent. Content adequately covered and relevant. 38-39 36-37 34-35 30-33 28-29 LEVEL 4 Question is recognisable in answer. Some omissions or irrelevant content selection. 30-33 28-29 26-27 LEVEL 3 Content selection does relate to the question, but does not answer it, or does not always relate to the question. Omissions in coverage. 26-27 24-25 20-23 LEVEL 2 Question inadequately addressed. Sparse content. 20-23 18-19 14-17 LEVEL 1 Question inadequately addressed or not at all. Inadequate or irrelevant content. 14-17 0-13 • Guidelines for allocating a mark for Level 1 • Question not addressed at all/ totally irrelevant content; no attempt to structure essay = 0 • Question includes basic and generally irrelevant information; no attempt to structure the essay = 1-6 • Question inadequately addressed and vague; no attempt to structure the essay = 7-13 Copyright reserved Please turn over History DBE/2017 11 Examination Guidelines 5. CONCLUSION This Examination Guidelines document is meant to articulate the assessment aspirations espoused in the CAPS document. It is therefore not a substitute for the CAPS document which educators should teach to. Qualitative curriculum coverage as enunciated in the CAPS cannot be over-emphasised. Copyright reserved

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