High School Course Outline

COURSE OUTLINE Modern World European History & Geography


Social Science


Major themes of the course include the basic chronology and major events and trends in European history from approximately 1450 to the 1990s. Significant emphasis is given to political and diplomatic history, intellectual and cultural history, and social and economic history.


  1. To introduce the high school student to the academic challenges of higher education.

  2. To develop academic skills in critical reading, hypothesis formulation, analysis, evaluation, and organization.

  3. To develop the ability to analyze secondary as well as primary sources.

  4. To develop the ability of writing essay examinations that are clear and precise.

  5. To complete a research paper which either proves or disproves a particular hypothesis.

  6. To understand and evaluate the various schools of European historiography.

  7. To develop an appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Western civilization.

  8. To heighten the ability to see relationships and distinctions in European political, social, economic, and cultural history.

  9. To reveal the problems faced by people at any given period in history, to relate the problems to the present, to investigate the attempts to find remedies for these problems, and to plot humankind's path to the future.


  1. Lecture and discussion to provide an in-depth study of each area in the course

  2. Teacher-guided reading assignments from textbook and supplementary readings from both primary and secondary sources

  3. A research paper which will demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills

  4. Audio-visual presentations


  1. Tests and quizzes

  2. Grading of class work and homework assignments

  3. Observation and evaluation of class participation


I. Introduction to Academic Skills

    A. Essay formulation

    B. Reading skills

    C. Hypothesis substantiation

II. The Rise of European Civilization

    A. Review of classical civilization

    B. Review of medieval civilization

III. The Renaissance and Reformation

    A. The Italian Renaissance

    B. The Renaissance outside of Italy

    C. The Protestant Reformation and Catholic reaction

IV. The Economic Expansion of Europe and the Wars of Religion

    A. The Age of Exploration

    B. The Commercial Revolution

    C. The Dutch Republic

    D. The thirty Years' War

V. The English Revolutions

    A. The Puritan Revolution

    B. The triumph of parliament

VI. The Transformation of Eastern Europe 1648-1740

    A. The formation of an Austrian monarchy

    B. The formation of Prussia

    C. The "Western Ring" of Russia

    D. The partitions of Poland

VII. The Age of Absolutism in France

    A. The France of Louis XIV

    B. The wars of Louis XIV and the peace of Utrecht

VIII. The Struggle for Wealth and Empire

    A. The global economy of the eighteenth century

    B. The Seven Years' War

IX. The Scientific View of the World

    A. The road to Newton

    B. Political theory: the development of the concept of natural law

X. The Age of enlightenment

    A. The philosophies

    B. Enlightened despotism

XI. The French Revolution

    A. Background

    B. The reorganization of France

    C. The republic and the terror

    D. The directory

XII. Napoleonic Europe

    A. The formation of the French imperial system

    B. The Grand Empire: spread of the revolution

    C. The defeat of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna

XIII. Industrialism, 1815-1848

    A. Great Britain leads the way

    B. Divergent economic philosophies: socialism, communism, and laissez-faire economics

XIV. Liberalism and Revolution, 1830-1848

    A. Bourgeoisie politics

    B. Paris

    C. Vienna

    D. Frankfurt and Berlin

    E. The rise of Louis Napoleon and the second French empire

XV. Nationalism, 1859-1871

    A. The state of states as of 1859

    B. The unification of Italy   

    C. Bismarck and the German nation

    D. Nationalism in the dual monarchy

    E. Liberal reform in Russia under Alexander II

XVI. The "New" Industrialism, 1871-1914

    A. The rise of the European cities

    B. Population and immigration

    C. World economics and trade

    D. The development of big business

XVII. The Rise of Republicanism and Democratic Advances, 1871-1919

    A. France: the third republic

    B. Great Britain: Gladstone, Disraeli, and changes in politics

    C. Germany: Bismarck, Wilhelm I, and Wilhelm II

    D. Austria-Hungary: divergent interests

XVIII. The Rise of Labor, 1871-1914

    A. Unionism, socialism, or communism

    B. The conservative reaction

XIX. The Arts, Literature, Science, Philosophy, and Religion, and Religion of the Neo-Classical Period

    A. Impressionism and surrealism

    B. Literature as ë reflection of change

    C. Darwin, Freud, and Nietzche

    D. The church under attack

XX. Imperialism, 1853-1905

    A. The nature of imperialism

    B. Japan opens to the West

    C. The Mexican fiasco

    D. The American empire

    E. The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire

    F. Egypt and Africa

    G. Germany throws its hat in the ring

    H. The partition of Asia

    I. The Russo-Japanese War

    J. The British in India

XXI. World War I

    A. Causes: the power keg theory

    B. The assassination at Sarajevo

    C. Stalemate, 1914-1916

    D. The nature of warfare

    E. The collapse of Russia

    F. American intervention

    G. The surrender of the central powers

    H. The Treaty of Versailles

XXII. The Russian Revolution

    A. Background and immediate causes

    B. The emergence of revolutionary parties

    C. The revolution of 1905

    D. Reforms of the revolution

    E. The revolution of March 1917

    F. The November revolution and the rise of the Bolsheviks

    G. Civil War, 1918-1922

    H. The creation of the communist state

    I. The Lenin years

    J. Stalin, Trotsky, and the purges

XXIII. Europe at the End of World War I, 1919-1929

    A. Beginnings and hope for new democracies

    B. The Weimar Republic

    C. Mustapha Kemal and Turkish reform

    D. India: Gandhi and Nehru

    E. Revolution in China

    F. The collapse of the world economy

XXIV. Democracies and Dictatorships, 1919-1939

    A. British politics and the Commonwealth

    B. Turmoil in France

    C. Mussolini and Italian fascism

    D. The rise of Hitler and the Third Reich

XXV. World War II

    A. Pacifism in the West

    B. Early Nazi and fascist aggressions

    C. The holocaust

    D. The Spanish Civil War

    E. The Munich crisis

    F. The invasion of Poland

    G. The Battle of Britain

    H. The Russian front

    I. Allied victory

    J. Peace

XXVI. The Cold War, 1945-Present

    A. European recovery

    B. The partition of Europe between East and West

    C. Russia in the post-Stalin era

    D. Maoism and the rise of Communist China

    E. Indian independence

    F. The Middle East and the question of Palestine

    G. Changes in Iran

    H. The Algerian War

    I. The dismantling of empires in Africa

    J. The fourth and fifth French republics

    K. The two Germanies

    L. The Japanese recovery

XXVII. Contemporary European Issues

    A. The Korean War

    B. The heating of the Cold War

    C. The race for space

    D. Southeast Asia and the war in Vietnam