­Sample Unit – Modern History – Year 12

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  • Students assess the role played by the presidency of Jimmy Carter in accounting for the re-emergence of opposition groups.

  • Students review the deflationary economic policies introduced in 1977 by Prime Minister Jamshid Amuzegar and link these to the growth of the Strike Movement. Students assess the role of Khomeini in coordinating this strike movement, as well as the impact on the Shah of the strikes.

  • Students view excerpts of the BBC documentary, The Fall of a Shah (2009) as stimulus to assess the role of the Shah in exacerbating tensions. Students engage in a class discussion relating to areas such as:

      • the Ettela’at article

      • the Abadan fire and police crackdowns/use of force

      • the introduction of martial law

      • Black Friday.


Students write a brief biography of Khomeini using Oxford Islamic Studies Online and excerpts from Professor Hamid Algar’s brief biography. www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0457


      • causes and ideology of the revolution of 1979 (ACHMH218) Critical and creative thinking icon Ethical understanding icon Intercultural understanding icon Civics and citizenship icon

  • analyse and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop reasoned claims (ACHMH008) Critical and creative thinking icon  Information and communication technology capability icon Literacy icon

  • Students access and analyse sources to examine the contrasting ideologies of Marxists and Islamists and their visions for Iran and the revolution.

  • Students create notes on the BBC documentary Iran and the West Episode 1 – The Man Who Changed the World (2009) as a stimulus to:

      • account for Khomeini’s popularity

      • account for his use of technology and the mosque network to spread propaganda and coordinate and unite opposition against the Shah from Iraq and Paris.

  • Students use a range of sources to compare and contrast the Shah’s departure from Iran in January 1979 with the Ayatollah’s arrival in Iran in February 1979.


Students are provided with a list of questions which they answer as they watch the documentary.

      • opposition to the Shah and the role of the military Ethical understanding icon Intercultural understanding icon

  • Students explain how Khomeini and the opposition groups appealed to soldiers and assess the impact of desertions. Students account for the ‘paralysis’ of the leadership of the armed forces and assess the significance of the armed forces declaring neutrality on 11 February 1979.

      • collapse of the monarchy and ascendency of Khomeini (ACHMH218) Critical and creative thinking icon Ethical understanding icon Intercultural understanding icon

  • Students outline the collapse of Bakhtiar’s government and its replacement with a Provisional Government led by Medhi Bazargan.

  • Iran under Khomeini 1979–1989, including:

      • consolidation of power and the creation of the Islamic Republic

  • Students examine the dual nature of power (the Provisional Government and the Revolutionary Council) and conflicting aims for the new constitution.

  • Students investigate the referendums that introduced the Islamic Republic and implemented the new theocratic constitution. Students examine Khomeini being declared Imam of the Muslim Umma and Supreme Leader for life, and assess the significance of velayat-e faqih

being adopted.

  • Students view the BBC documentary, Iran Betrayed to investigate the consolidation of Khomeini’s power.


Students examine the main tenets of velayat-e faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists) and Khomeini’s writings on it.

      • Western/US–Iranian relations, including the Hostage Crisis (ACHMH221)

  • identify and analyse problems relating to sources in the investigation of the past (ACHMH011) Critical and creative thinking icon

  • Students view the BBC documentary, 444 Days - Iran Hostage Crisis to explain the hostage crisis and assess its impact on US/Iranian relations:

  • Students investigate relations between the United States and Iran in order to create a class mind map. Points may include:

      • the Iran-Contra affair

      • US involvement in the Iran-Iraq war and the Persian Gulf

      • Reagan’s Operation Staunch

      • conflict in Lebanon

      • the shooting down of Iran Air 655.

  • Students construct news reports on the hostage crisis from the perspective of the United States and the perspective of the Iranians.


Students analyse oral and visual primary sources to explain the hostage crisis. http://www.gq.com/story/iran-hostage-crisis-tehran-embassy-oral-history


      • the causes of tensions with Iraq (ACHMH218)

  • Students assess the significance of Saddam Hussein coming to power in Iraq in July 1979, creating a mind map which identifies reasons for tensions with Iraq.


Students research Khomeini’s and Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah.

      • reforms and their impact on Iranian society and culture

  • use evidence from a range of sources to inform investigation and research (ACHMH005)  Information and communication technology capability icon Literacy icon

  • Students view the film Persepolis and/or read excerpts from the graphic novels to draw conclusions about the nature of Khomeini’s reforms and their impact on Iranian society.

  • Students analyse primary sources to assess the impact of the re-introduction of Sharia law and censorship on Iranian people and culture.


Students discuss the value of using different forms of historical communication, such as film, to study Iranian society.


American Coup 2010, dir. Joe Ayella (Film)

Risen, J 2000, Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran, The New York Times. Date accessed: 10/02/2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html

Fallaci, O 1973, The Shah of Iran: An Interview with Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, in New Republic. Date accessed: 10/02/2017, from https://newrepublic.com/article/92745/shah-iran-mohammad-reza-pahlevi-oriana-fallaci

BBC, 2009, Iran and the West: The Man Who Changed the World – Documentary­

BBC, 2016, Storyville, Decadence and Downfall: The Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party Documentary

The 1953 Coup

Abrahamian, E 1953, The Coup:1953, the CIA, and the roots of modern US.-Iranian Relations, 2013, The New Press, NY.

Kinzer, S 2008, All the Shah’s Men, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

The Shah and the Revolution

Abrahamian, E 2008, A History of Modern Iran, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Amuzegar, J 1991, The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy, State University of New York Press, Albany.

Arjomand, SA 1988, The Turban for the Crown: the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Oxford University Press, New York.

Axeworthy, M 2013, Revolutionary Iran, Penguin, London.

Buchan, J 2012, Days of God, John Murray, London.

Cooper, AS 2016, The Fall of Heaven, Henry Holt and Company, New York.

Cooper, AS 2013, The Oil Kings, Simon and Schuster, New York.

Kapuscinski, R 1985, Shah of Shahs, Penguin, London.

Keddie, N & Richard, Y 2006, Modern Iran, Roots and Results of Revolution, Yale University Press, New Haven.

Kurzman, C 2004, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ghamari-Tabrizi, B 2009, Memory, mourning, memorializing: on the victims of Iran–Iraq, 1980–present. (The Iranian Revolution Turns Thirty) Radical History Review, no. 105, pp. 106–121

Ritter, D & Trechsel, AH 2014, Revolutionary Cells: On the Role of Texts, Tweets, and Status Updates in Unarmed Revolutions, pp 118–28 in Grofman, B, Trechsel, AH, Franklin, M (eds) The Internet and Democracy in Global Perspective, Springer, New York.

Tahmaaseb Hunter, S 2014, Iran Divided: The Historical Roots of Iranian Debate on Identity, Culture, and Governance, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, United States.


Algar, H 2009, Imam Khomeini; Life Thought and Legacy, Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur.

Coughlin, C 2009, Khomeini’s Ghost, Macmillan, London.

Fallaci, O 1979, An Interview with Khomeini, The New York Times. Date accessed, 10/02/2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/archival/19791007fallaci-khomeini.pdf

Mabon, S 2013, Saudi Arabia and Iran, I.B.Tauris and Co, London.

Persepolis, 2007, DVD, Sony Pictures Classic Release.

Satrapi, M 2003, Persepolis, Pantheon, New York.

Taheri, A 2009, The Persian Night, Encounter Books, New York.

Takeyh, R 2009, Guardians of the Revolution, Oxford University Press, New York.

Wright, R 2000, The Last Great Revolution, Vintage Books, New York.

Wright, R 1989, In the Name of God, Touchstone, New York.

The Hostage Crisis

BBC, 2001, 444 Days Iran Hostage Crisis – Documentary

BBC News, In pictures: Iran hostage crisis. Date accessed, 17/02/2017, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/middle_east_iran_hostage_crisis/html/1.stm

Bowden, M 2006, Guests of the Ayatollah, Grove Press, New York.

Farber, D 2005, Taken Hostage, The Iran Hostage Crisis and America’s First Encounter with Radical Islam, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Our Man in Tehran, 2013, – Film

Penn, N 2009, 444 Days in the Dark: An Oral History of the Iran Hostage Crisis, GQ. Date accessed, 10/02/2017, from http://www.gq.com/story/iran-hostage-crisis-tehran-embassy-oral-history)

Iran and Iraq

Karsh, E 2002, The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988, Rosen Publishing Group, New York.

Razoux, P 2015, The Iran-Iraq War, trans. N Elliot, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, United States.



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