Ap world history course description

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The purpose of the AP World History course is to develop greater understanding of the evolution of global processes and contacts in different types of human societies. This understanding is advanced through a combination of selective factual knowledge and appropriate analytical skills. The course highlights the nature of changes in global frameworks and their causes and consequences, as well as comparisons among major societies. It emphasizes relevant factual knowledge, leading interpretive issues, and skills in analyzing types of historical evidence. Periodization, explicitly discussed, forms an organizing principle to address change and continuity throughout the course. Specific themes provide further organization to the course, along with consistent attention to contacts among societies that form the core of world history as a field of study.

College world history courses vary considerably in the approach used, the chronological framework chose, the content covered, the themes selected, and the analytical skills emphasized. The material in the Course Description represents the choices that the AP World History Development Committee has made to create the course and the exam. These choices themselves are compatible with a variety of college level curricular approaches.
AP Courses require additional time and commitment from students and instructors; preparation, dedication to extensive reading assignments, and additional communication between teacher and student are all imperative to success in this class. The course offers balanced global coverage with Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania all represented.


Students must acclimate themselves with the dynamics of continuity and change across the historical periods that are included in the course. Analyzing the processes and causes involved in continuities and changes is a difficult task; however, students will learn to focus on five overarching themes which serve as unifying threads throughout the course. These themes also provide students with an avenue to make comparisons over time and facilitate cross-period questions.

  1. Interaction between humans & the environment

    1. Demography & disease

    2. Migration

    3. Patterns of Settlement

    4. Technology

  2. Development & interaction of cultures

    1. Religions

    2. Belief systems, philosophies, & ideologies

    3. Science & technology

    4. Arts & architecture

  3. State-building, expansion, & conflict

    1. Political structures & forms of governance

    2. Empires

    3. Nations & nationalism

    4. Revolts & revolutions

    5. Regional, trans-regional, & global structures and organizations

  4. Creation, expansion & interaction of economic systems

    1. Agriculture & pastoral production

    2. Trade & commerce

    3. Labor systems

    4. Industrialization

    5. Capitalism & socialism

  5. Development & transformation of social structures

    1. Gender roles & relations

    2. Family & kinship

    3. Racial & ethnic constructions

    4. Social & economic classes


The AP World History course addresses habits of mind in two categories: 1) those addressed by any rigorous history course, and 2) those addressed by a world history course.

Four habits of mind in the first category:

  1. Constructing and evaluating arguments: using evidence to make plausible arguments

  2. Using documents and other primary data” developing the skills necessary to analyze point of view and context and to understand and interpret information

  3. Assessing continuity and change over time and over different world regions

  4. Understanding diversity of interpretations through analysis of context, point of view, and frame of reference

Five habits of mind in the second category:

  1. Seeing global patterns and processes over time and space while connecting local developments to global ones

  2. Comparing within and among societies, including comparing societies’ reactions to global processes

  3. Considering human commonalities and differences

  4. Exploring claims of universal standards in relation to culturally diverse ideas

  5. Exploring the persistent relevance of world history in contemporary developments



  • Actively participate in class and complete all assignments thoroughly and in a timely manner.

  • Attend class if at all possible! If you are forced to miss class you will have two days from the date of your absence to get your make-up work and turn it in to me. If you are absent due to a school activity; you will need to make arrangements to obtain your work prior to the absence and return it to me when you return.

  • Each student will maintain a binder for AP World History which will be divided into five sections.

    • Notes from class & reading notes

    • Graphic Organizers

      • Comparison Charts

      • PERSIANS

      • Conrad Demarest Model of Empires

    • Study Guides for each chapter

    • Maps—geography

    • Returned essays/assignments

  • Complete weekly reading assignments to stay up with class discussion and allow yourself to participate in class work. There will be weekly reading quizzes to verify students are keeping up with their assignments.



Bulliet, Richard, et al., The Earth and Its People: A Global History, 2nd Ed, Houghton Mifflin Company (2001).

Supplementary Sources—

Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, 4th Ed. Bentley, Jerry. Boston, McGraw Hill (2008).

World Civilizations: The Global Experience, 5th Ed. Stearns, Peter. New York, Pearson/Longman (2007).
Primary Sources—


Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader, by Kevin Reilly, 3rd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009

The Human Record: Sources of Global History, by Alfred Andrea and James Overfield, 6th edition, Volumes I and II, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009


Images for analysis can be pulled from textbooks, readers, and internet. Samples for analysis may include art, photos, charts/graphs, and political cartoons.


Tables and Graphs in Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, by David Christian

Students will analyze quantitative resources through study and interpretation of graphs, charts, and tables from Document Based Questions released by the College Board.

Secondary Sources—

Pomeranz, K. and Topik, S. 1999. The World that Trade Created. M.E. Sharpe.

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel.



    • Comparative Essay – Students compare historical developments across or within societies in various chronological and/or geographical contexts. Students will also synthesize information by connecting insights from one historical context to another, including the present.

    • Document Based Questions – Students analyze evidence from a variety of sources in order to develop a coherent written argument that has a thesis supported by relevant historical evidence. Students will apply multiple historical thinking skills as they examine a particular historical problem and questions.

    • Change and Continuity Over Time – students identify and analyze patterns of continuity and change over time and across geographic regions. They will also connect these historical developments to specific circumstances of time and place and to broader regional, national, or global processes.


Students will have an opportunity to evaluate 5-10 primary sources some text based others visuals; they will evaluate them based on occasion, point of view, purpose, tone, interrelationships, and conclusions. These primary source analysis skills will be applied throughout the course.


    • Students will be expected to annotate maps for each major time period, with important geographic regions highlighted, the migration of peoples, cultural diffusion of ideas and religions.

    • The annotated time line assignment will allow students to analyze history chronologically and annotate the most important parts of history that were catalysts for change and/or continuity.

Unit 1: Foundations – 600 ce

  • Key Concept 1.1 Big Geography and the Peopling of the Earth

  • Key Concept 1.2 The Neolithic Revolution and Early Agricultural Societies

  • Key Concept 1.3 The Development and Interactions of Early Agricultural, Pastoral, and Urban Societies.

  • Key Concept 2.1 The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions

  • Key Concept 2.2 The Development of States and Empires

  • Key Concept 2.3 Emergence of Trans-regional Networks of Communication and Exchange

Time Period: Six Weeks


  • Chapters 1-9

  • Maps p. 70, 122, 137, 146

Supplemental Readings or Reader:

  • The Epic of Gilgamesh

  • Judgments of Hammurabi

  • Excerpts from the Quran

  • Excerpts from The Four Noble Truths

  • The Mandate of Heaven

Topics for Discussion

  • Neolithic Revolution

  • Basic Features of Early Civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus River Valley, Yellow River Valley

  • Major Belief Systems: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Confucianism, and Daoism

  • Classical Civilizations: Greece, Rome, China and India – including migrations of the Huns and Germanic tribes

  • Cultural Diffusion

  • Silk Road trade networks, Chinese model and urbanization


  • Comparative Essay

    • Students will participate in a workshop covering the requirements of the comparative essays including the grading rubric used by the College Board, thesis development, and focus on setting up their arguments based on comparative charts.

    • In class, students will write a timed comparative essay over the political and social structures of any two of the following ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus River Valley, Yellow River Valley, and the Olmec/Chavin Civilizations.

    • Students will compare Han China to Rome.

  • Annotated Maps – tracking the migration patterns of early peoples and tracing the diffusion of major belief systems and trade.

  • Walk About Primary Source Analysis – students will have the opportunity to evaluate eight primary sources from various civilizations in the time period and analyze them using the SOAPPS-Tone format. Consider their purpose and social content in respect to the civilizations.

  • Unit Exam – 70 multiple choice questions from released AP Exams

Unit 2: Post Classical 600-1450 ce

  • Key Concept 3.1 Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks

  • Key Concept 3.2 Continuity and Innovation of State Forms and Their Interactions

  • Key Concept 3.3 Increased Economic Productive Capacity and Its Consequences

Time Period: Six Weeks


  • Chapters 10-16

  • Maps (in text)

Supplemental Readings:

  • Mayan Creation Story

  • The Mongol Empire Takes Shape

  • Gregory Guzman, “Were the Barbarians and Negative or a Positive Factor in Ancient and Medieval History?” in Reilly

Topics for Discussion

  • The Islamic World, the Crusades, and the Schism in Christianity

  • European vs. Japanese Feudalism

  • Mongols across Eurasia and Urban Destruction in SW Asia, Black Death

  • Bantu and Polynesian Migrations

  • Great Zimbabwe and Mayan Empires and Urbanizations

  • Aztec and Incan Civilizations

  • Ming Dragon Boats and Indian Ocean Trade


  • Document Based Question Essay

    • Diffusion of Buddhism from India to China

    • Teach the DBQ Rubric for students and allow them to learn the standards associated with using the documents, analysis, missing voice, point of view analysis, etc.

  • Kimball Art Museum: The Fiery Waters – the Mayans

    • Students will have the opportunity to participate in a docent tour of artifacts from the Mayan civilization, and view other documents form Sub-Sahara Africa and the Fort Worth Kimball Art Museum.

    • Students will evaluate these artifacts based on the OPPTIC or SOAPPS-Tone acronyms which force students to focus on source, purpose, tone, intended audience, connect to previous knowledge and draw educated conclusions.

  • Socratic Seminars

    • Students will uses Socratic strategies to develop arguments on either side of a topic. Were environmental factors responsible for the collapse of the Mayan Empire? Were the Crusades an early example of western imperialism? Did men and women benefit equally from the Renaissance?

  • Unit Exam – 70 multiple choice questions from released AP Exams

Unit 3: Global Interactions, 1450-1750 ce

  • Key Concept 4.1 Globalizing Networks of Communication and Exchange

  • Key Contept 4.2 New Forms of Social Organization and Modes of Production

  • Key Concept 4.3 State Consolidation and Imperial Expansion

Time Period: Six Weeks


  • Textbook Chapters 17-22

  • Maps (in text)

Supplemental Readings:

  • Native American Account of Spanish Conquest of Tenochtitlan

  • Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

Topics for Discussion

  • Transformation in Europe – Renaissance, Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution

  • Encounters and Exchanges: Portuguese and Indian Ocean Trade, Southwest Asian Trade Networks and the Ming Slave Trade and Rise of Qing

  • Labor Systems: Atlantic Slave Trade, Serfdom, Indentured Servitude

  • The Columbian Exchange in Atlantic and Pacific Context

  • Expansion of Global Economy and Absolutism: Muslim, Tokugawa, and Romanov Empires

  • Atlantic Slave Trade impacts on Demography in West Africa

Major Assignments/Assessments

  • Group Teaching

    • Groups will research and create presentations to disseminate information to others; each group will be explaining: the political and cultural developments in Spain, Portugal, France, England, Holland, Russia, Ottoman Empire, Ming and Qing China, Tokugawa Japan, Mughal Empire, West and East Africa, Safavid Empires, Aztec and Incan Empires, Columbian Exchange, labor systems.

  • Change and Continuity Over Time Essay

    • Students will be taught the rubric and expectations for the CCOT.

    • Possible topics: changes and continuities in labor systems, land based v. sea based empires, economic and social effects of the Columbian Exchange.

  • Walk About Primary Source Analysis – students will have the opportunity to evaluate eight primary sources from various civilizations in the time period and analyze them using the OPPTIC format. Consider their purpose and social content in respect to the civilizations.

    • Writings of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and the Secret History of Mongols

  • Unit Exam – 70 multiple choice questions from released AP Exams

Unit 4: Industrialization and Global Integration, 1750-1900 ce

  • Key Concept 5.1 Industrialization and Global Capitalism

  • Key Concept 5.2 Imperialism and Nation – State Formation

  • Key Concept 5.3 Nationalism, Revolution, and Reform

  • Key Concept 5.4 Global Migration

Time Period: Six Weeks


  • Textbook Chapters 23-29

  • Maps (in text)

Supplemental Readings:

  • The United States Declaration of Independence

  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

  • Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto

  • Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative

Topics for Discussion

  • European Enlightenment

  • Revolutions: American, French, Haitian, French, Latin American

  • Napoleonic Wars

  • British Industrial Revolution

  • Imperialism, Westernization, and Modernization

  • Anti-Slavery, Suffrage, Labor Movements, Anti-Imperialism

Major Assignments/Assessments:

  • DBQ Projects

Students will draw for DBQ Topics and research to collect between 8-11 documents to write a DBQ based on their question. The research, documents, and format must be identical to the examples presented in class; it’s teaching the DBQ from inside out.

  • Comparative Analysis of coercive labor systems and the Colombian Exchange

  • Walk About Primary Source Analysis – students will have the opportunity to evaluate eight primary sources from various civilizations in the time period and analyze them using the OPPTIC format. Consider their purpose and social content in respect to the civilizations.

    • Ma Huan, De Las Casas, Codex Mendosa, Letters from the King of Kongo

  • Annotated Maps of East Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Unit Exam – 70 multiple choice questions from released AP Exams

Unit 5: Accelerating Global Change and Realignments, 1900-Present

  • Key Concept 6.1 Science and the Environment

  • Key Concept 6.2 Global Conflicts and Their Consequences

  • Key Concept 6.3 New Conceptualization of Global Economy, Society, and Culture

Time Period: Six Weeks


  • Textbook Chapters 30-35

  • Maps ( in text)

Supplemental Readings:

  • Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points

  • WWI propaganda posters fm. Reilly Document Reader

  • Writings of Mohandas Gandhi: There is no salvation for India, The Doctrine of the Sword

  • Adolf Hitler, Mein Kempf

  • The Decision to Drop the Atom Bomb

Topics for Discussion

  • World War I, Total War, Reactions to the Fourteen Points

  • Consumerism in the World

  • Depression and Authoritarian Responses

  • World War II and Forced Migrations

  • United Nations and Decolonization

  • Cold War, Imperialism, and the End of the Cold War

  • The Information and Communication Technologies Revolution

Major Assignments/Assessments:

  • Timed Writings: DBQ – Indentured Servitude; Development of Global Trade Patterns, 1750-1914 Comparative – French Revolution vs. American Revolution; Reactions to Foreign Dominations in the Ottoman Empire, China, India, and Japan; Nationalism; Western Influences in Latin America; CCOT – Roles of Women; Labor Systems; Industrialization, Westernization, Modernization

  • Walk About Primary Source Analysis – OPPTIC Format – students will have the opportunity to evaluate eight primary sources from various civilizations in the time period and analyze them using the OPPTIC format. Consider their purpose and social content in respect to the civilizations.

    • Excerpts from Locke, Montesquieu, Declaration of Independence, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, Jamaica Letter, Adam Smith and Karl Marx

  • Group Teaching: student groups will research and make presentations. Topics will be presented with visuals and documented research; the topics could be: Seven Years’ War, Napoleonic Wars, Berlin Conference, Opium Wars, Migration Suffrage, Scientific Revolution, Latin American Independence Movements, Factory Systems, Taipang Rebellion, Socialism, pan-Slavism

  • 70 Question Multiple Choice Exam from released AP Exams

Review Period
Time Period: 3 weeks
Practice Advanced Placement Exams

Peer Graded Timed Writings:

  • Comparative Essays

  • Document Based Questions

  • Continuity and Change Over Time Essays

Multiple Choice Questions

Study Guide Notebook – Students create review notebook containing materials used throughout the year such as maps, timelines, notes, and sample essays.

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