Elective History

Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and writing skills. We look at different interpretations of the past and consider the notion that our own perspective has a significant influence on how we view the world.

To broaden the experience, the course also includes an excursion in the Sydney area to explore evidence and artefacts associated with their class work content.


Head of History: Julia Kerr
Email: jkerr@barker.nsw.edu.au

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Year 9

Our exploration begins at the end of the Roman republic and the rise of its empire. We study a film on ancient Rome, such as Gladiator, determining how history is constructed while seeking to challenge the idea that history is written by the winners. Students then explore these themes further by looking at a series of key historical figures and their times such as Pericles in Athens, Celtic Queen Boudicca in ancient Britain, Joan of Arc in medieval France, or Pablo Escobar in the late 20th century. Students will have the opportunity to conduct independent research on an individual of their choice.

Next up will be the related ideas of Crime and Punishment over time. Students consider the ways in which societies define these ideas and explore the notion that every culture holds varied expectations on/for the criminal process. Possible case studies include the use of poison in the ancient world, the Salem Witch Trials, and the blurred line between privateers and pirates.

Over two thousand years ago a Greek thinker posed the question, " does not tyranny spring from democracy?”. We need look no further than the storming of the US Capitol this year to see the statement’s potential and through the selected case studies, the remarkable resilience of democracy.


History is assessed a variety of ways such as independent research, formal tests, and problem solving source activities.

Year 10

Year 10 Elective begins with an exploration of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Bosworth, Richard III and the disappearance of the princes in the tower.  Students follow Richard’s journey (using the sources as our evidence trail) to the discovery of his human remains in 2012. By the end of the unit some students are ardent Ricardians! We study a film related to Richard III and embed this in a unit entitled History Goes To Hollywood where we assess film as a legitimate form of representing the past.

Up next is a deep dive into the assassination of JFK. After scrutinising the key events that took place during Kennedy’s presidency, students independently explore the various theories surrounding the events of November 1963. Students examine these findings in a class presentation.

Ancient history is not neglected with a possible case study on Alexander the Great, Women in Ancient Greece or Celtic Warfare. Students consider the ways in which ancient societies and cultures were influenced by different values and motives. The studying of ancient artefacts will be developed through a bespoke excursion to the Chau Chak Wing Museum at Sydney University.

Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and writing skills through an independent research topic which incorporates the use of A.I. as part of the research process.

Finally, we pose the question ‘Was the dropping of the bomb morally right?’ Most of the debate over the atomic bombing of Japan focuses on the unanswerable question of whether it was necessary. We also look carefully at the moral arguments for and against the action authorised by President Truman in August 1945.


Elective History is assessed a variety of ways such as independent research, formal tests, individual and group presentations and problem solving source activities.