Advanced World History—Semester B

Three -isms walk into a war.

This course has been granted a-g certification, which means it has met the rigorous iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses and will now be honored as part of the requirements for admission into the University of California system.

In Semester A of Advanced World History, we could still count on a little bit of distance between ourselves and the peeps we were reading about (and when we were reading about Ötzi the unfortunate human icicle, a lot of distance. And several inches of ice).

But with every passing lesson of AP World Semester B, that divide gets a little bit smaller, and history gets more real.

Reading about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the subjugation of Native Americans, and the atrocities of new imperialism isn't just uncomfortable in a "wow, the ancient Romans were hardcore—I'm really glad modern Romans dig pasta and not aggressive expansionism" sorta way. This is history that's impact still resonates today.

And then we get to the 20th and 21st centuries. World wars. Proxy wars. Genocide. Even the stuff that we often benefit from—globalization, mass production, easy breezy consumerism—we'll analyze with an AP-rigorous eye.

We don't mean to suggest that this semester is going to be a long hard slog through misery, murder, and mutual destruction. Ultimately, we'll come away with a better understanding of early modern, modern, and contemporary conflict and change—that's a plus inside and outside of AP prep.

Besides, this is the half of World History in which the television was invented. It can't all be traumatic, right?


In the latter half of this course, we'll

  • track the rise and fall of empires, elites, and other major powers—from the early modern era to the present day.
  • consider what impact the centuries of war, subjugation, and genocide had on the global economy. And on country relationships. And on the conscience of humankind in general.
  • keep digging into the AP World course themes, historical thinking skills, and question formats—with a whole new set of standards and stimulus material.

We like to think that Ötzi would be proud of our worldliness and ambition. Too bad he couldn't be here with us through it all.

Unit Breakdown

  1. Advanced World History—Semester B - AP World is Your Oyster

    Just like you wouldn't enter into the world of Godzilla without a mech suit and a bazooka (just us?), you wouldn't take on Advanced World History without a game plan. Meet Unit 1: your game plan. We'll talk MCQs (pro tip: when in doubt, guess), FRQs, historical thinking skills (no, we did not just make up the word "periodization"), primary and secondary source analysis, and the five major course themes, all while dipping into some specific historical case studies, like Japan's isolationist policies and the Spanish colonization of the New World.

  2. Advanced World History—Semester B - When Bronze Meant First Place

    Once upon a time, the Paleo diet was the way of the world, and people got all their cardio from chasing bison, praying for the day that someone would finally invent the microwaveable burrito. Then, agriculture happened, and although it wasn't as immediately rewarding as a microwaveable burrito, it was a start. In this unit, we'll look at the rise of settled communities, social hierarchies, and trade through the lens of Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient China, and more. Yep, we're covering all of Paleolithic to Iron Age history in a single unit. No pressure.

  3. Advanced World History—Semester B - The Truth Is Out There...Somewhere

    What happens when you have time and food to spare, now that you're no longer chasing ornery bison from dawn till dusk? Why, you use those extra hours to get your philosophy on, of course. In this unit, we'll look at the rise of Classical (c. 600 BCE to 600 CE) religions and philosophies, and what they can tell us about the societies that loved them. Still no word on that microwaveable burrito though.

  4. Advanced World History—Semester B - Even Empires Started Small

    With the rise of agriculture came a love of territory, which gave rise to massive empires. Sure, you don't need to conquer all of Asia Minor to have enough room to grow turnips, but 1) it doesn't hurt, and 2) an emperor's gotta do what an emperor's gotta do. In this unit, we'll look at how military and governmental tactics were used to consolidate territories in such famed empires as Rome, Persia, and Mauryan India. We'll also track how cities rose and promptly stunk up the place with their bad sanitation. Classic(al).

  5. Advanced World History—Semester B - Merchants of Shmoop

    It's not like people hadn't been trading since the beginning of human history ("hey Grog, I'll give you this conch shell for that severed deer head"). It's just that the post-Classical era kicked off trade like nothing before. We're talking new sailing tech, new trade routes, and an unprecedented scope of travel that culminated not just in bigger, badder commerce, but also in larger-scale migration and diasporas galore. Also: the spread of the Bubonic Plague. Because it's not world history without some major oopses.

  6. Advanced World History—Semester B - Growing Pains: Reconstruction, Revitalization, and Revolt in Medieval Society

    You thought we'd be able to cover all of the post-Classical era in a single unit? Not even. In this unit, we'll look closer at how states, governments, and empires evolved during the medieval era. We'll wrap it all up with a look at changes in agriculture and agriculture technology, and the impact they had on cities, social hierarchies, and peasant revolts. You gotta love a good peasant revolt.

  7. Advanced World History—Semester B - Let's Get Together, Yeah Yeah Yeah

    The "Columbian Exchange" may sound like an equitable swap, but while the Europeans of the Old World came away with cocoa and strawberries and other Valentine's Day essentials, the indigenous people of the New World got a big ol' bag of smallpox (and horses…but forgive us if we focus on the smallpox part). But the early modern era was more than just a PSA against trusting strangers—it was also an age of corporations, joint-stock companies, and…bureaucracy. Uh, we're not quite selling it. Do-over?

  8. Advanced World History—Semester B - We Belong to the World, We Belong to Each Other

    Smallpox, meet slave labor. Just when you thought the early modern era was maxing out on its bummer quotient, we bring in: the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; the rise of new class and racial systems; and brutal and widespread competition over land and trade. On the plus side, many old elites were goin' down. Sure, they were just replaced by new elites, but we're a glass-half-full kinda…Shmoop.

  9. Advanced World History—Semester B - You Want a Revolution? I Want a Revelation

    We don't know where we'd be without the Industrial Revolution. Sure, we're not so keen on the smog, the historical treatment of the underclass, or the rampant child labor. But we really enjoy a mass-produced doily. In this unit, we're taking the Industrial Revolution as it is—the good and the bad. And as we transition into an urban capitalist world, we'll pick the brains of a few key thinkers—Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon—to see what they had to say about this brave new dust-filled world.

  10. Advanced World History—Semester B - The More Things Change…The More They Really Change

    After all the slavery and the disease and the sad poems about baby chimney sweeps, it's about time we got a little light in the world. The Enlightenment, which influenced the Industrial Revolution, also had a big impact on the rights-based movements and uprisings of the era. Unfortunately, it was also bound up in the imperialism of the era. We guess nothing in history is totally neat and clean. It's kind of like a baby chimney sweep in that way.

  11. Advanced World History—Semester B - And the World Went Boom

    Welcome to the 20th century—when we weren't finding new ways to prolong and improve life (read: the Green Revolution; vaccines; television), we were inventing new means of destroying life, and mucking things up for those who remained (the world wars; multiple instances of genocide). And that's a hard truth no amount of television can distract us from…no, not even The Great British Baking Show.

  12. Advanced World History—Semester B - The Times, They Are A Changin'

    From the very beginning, this course has been about world history—but it's never been more global than in the 20th and 21st centuries. Globalization, multinational corporations, outsourcing—heck, some nations have even outsourced their conflicts, a la proxy wars (we're looking at you, U.S. and the Soviet Union). Is this increased globalization good, bad, or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯? That's what we're here to suss out.

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