What is new and different with the World History Topics and Paper 2?

By Wednesday, October 28, 2015 , , 0

The main content change is the merger of Routes 1 and 2.  The HL option will still need to be declared, but the new syllabus has 12 topics – 4 that come from the previous 20th century world history topics, 4 from the previous Medieval History topics and 4 from the middle, linking part of the curriculum. The topics are:

1. Society and economy (750–1400)

2. Causes and effects of medieval wars (750–1500)

3. Dynasties and rulers (750–1500)

4. Societies in transition (1400–1700)

5. Early Modern states (1450–1789)

6. Causes and effects of Early Modern wars (1500–1750)

7. Origins, development and impact of industrialization (1750–2005)

8. Independence movements (1800–2000)

9. Evolution and development of democratic states (1848–2000)

10. Authoritarian states (20th century)

11. Causes and effects of 20th-century wars

12. The Cold War: Superpower tensions and rivalries (20th century)

The material remains belligerent heavy: you can study wars in all 3 time frames, and the Cold War, and authoritarian states.  However, your school might also choose to focus on other aspects of human development: society and economy; industrialization; or the development of democratic movements. In most cases, there will not be many changes in your curriculum when you  compare it to the Year 2 IB students, but there are enough differences that you must pay attention to your own requirements.  If you receive hand-me-down notes from a friend or older sibling, the information might be a bit dated, so revision of the material is key.

The requirements remains the same: two different topics need to be studied, and you need to cover examples from at least two different regions.  However, there are changes in the details of each subject.  Most substantial is that there is no longer material for detailed study – we have full choice on what we cover, as long as we cover all of the major themes.  This is where it gets tricky, however.  If you choose cause and effects of 20th century wars, you need to ensure that you have enough wars to cover different types of wars – guerrilla, wars between states and civil wars.  How many wars will that amount to?  And for the Cold War, you are expected to cover the entire chronology of the Cold War, examine in detail two Cold War leaders, 2 countries (other than US and USSR) and two Cold War Crises.  What is a Cold War crisis?  Stay tuned, that is a topic for another blog …

The exam is very different: there will only be two questions per topic, the questions are entirely open (you get to choose your own examples) and the essays will now be marked out of 15 points, not the current 20.  However, you will still write two essays from two different areas in 90 minutes.

Marking out of 15?  Below is a table of how the marks break down with the new system.  The IB still provides a table that indicates holistic marking, but my students like to identify skills they need to acquire, so I found this model easier for them to navigate:

Essay Rubric for Class of 2017

 Understanding of questionKnowledge of question Examples usedLevel of analysisStructure of essay10+
1-3There is little understanding of the demands of the question.Little knowledge of the world history topic is present.The student identifies examples to discuss, but these examples are factually incorrect, irrelevant or vague.The response contains little or no critical analysis. The response may consist mostly of generalizations and poorly substantiated assertions.The response is poorly structured or, where there is a recognizable essay structure, there is minimal focus on the task.
4-6The response indicates some understanding of the demands of the question.Knowledge of the world history topic is demonstrated, but lacks accuracy and relevance. There is a superficial understanding of historical context.The student identifies specific examples to discuss, but these examples are vague or lack relevance.There is some limited analysis, but the response is primarily narrative/descriptive in nature rather than analytical.While there may be an attempt to follow a structured approach, the response lacks clarity and coherence.
7-9The response indicates an understanding of the demands of the question, but these demands are only partially addressed.Knowledge of the world history topic is mostly accurate and relevant.

Events are generally placed in their historical context.
The examples that the student chooses to discuss are appropriate and relevant. The response makes links and/or comparisons (as appropriate to the question).The response moves beyond description to include some analysis or critical commentary but this is not sustained.There is an attempt to follow a structured approach.10+: Perspective, support and conclusion
10-12The demands of the question are understood and addressed.Knowledge of the world history topic is mostly accurate and relevant.

Events are placed in their historical context, and there is some understanding of historical concepts.
The examples that the student chooses to discuss are appropriate and relevant, and are used to support the analysis/evaluation.The response contains critical analysis, which is mainly clear and coherent.Responses are generally well structured and organized, although there is some repetition or lack of clarity in places.There is some awareness and evaluation of different perspectives. Most of the main points are substantiated and the response argues to a consistent conclusion.
13-14Responses are clearly focused, showing a high degree of awareness of the demands and implications of the question.Knowledge of the world history topic is accurate and relevant. Events are placed in their historical context, and there is a clear understanding of historical concepts. The examples that the student chooses to discuss are appropriate and relevant, and are used effectively to support the analysis or evaluation. The response makes effective links and/or comparisons (as appropriate to the question).The response contains clear and coherent critical analysis.Responses are well structured and effectively organized.There is evaluation of different perspectives, and this evaluation is integrated effectively into the answer. All, or nearly all, of the main points are substantiated, and the response argues to a consistent conclusion.

This should give you a general guide for what you need to do for grades to rise.

There will be future blogs on the different elements of the exam and the curriculum but this is the overview for today.

See you soon!

1 Comment
  • Carel de Goeij
    September 19, 2017

    Thanks for your article. I’m planning to do topics 7 (Industrialisation) and 9 (Democratic States) this year. Do you know by chance any good course companions?

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