IB History Extended Essay Topics

ib dp history

As an IB educator and writer, I’ve seen the significant growth students experience in the IB DP History course. However, the most notable part of this development frequently happens throughout the Extended Essay writing process. The practical application of historical theory helps students to take on the role of historians. This post provides advice and recommendations on selecting a topic and writing your IB History Extended Essay.

What Is IB DP History Course?

The IB History course is a fascinating and multidimensional path through time that aims to engage students in the complexity of human history. In my perspective, the course’s strength is its comprehensive approach to comprehending the forces that have formed our world. It is more than merely knowing about the past. It is about understanding why these events happened, how they shaped the present, and how they may affect the future.

In addition, IB History encourages students to become historians. This involves learning skills valuable for historical research and other areas of life outside the classroom. Critical thinking is at the forefront of these skills, allowing students to analyze sources, weigh evidence, and draw informed conclusions about the past.

The Extended Essay, an essential part of the IB History course, shows the program’s emphasis on individual investigation and in-depth study. This task encourages students to conduct deep research on a historical topic that interests them. It’s a daunting task that requires students to apply the skills they’ve learned throughout the course: developing a research question, gathering and analyzing materials, and building a well-supported argument.

How to Choose a History Extended Essay Topic?

Finding a topic that resonates with you is crucial. Throughout the IB History course, there will undoubtedly have been moments that captured your imagination more than others. Was it the intrigue of Cold War diplomacy, the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, or perhaps the ancient civilizations of Egypt or Rome that fascinated you? Start there. Reflect on the lectures, readings, and discussions that sparked a desire to learn more.

However, passion alone isn’t enough. Your chosen topic must also align with the IB History curriculum and offer a rich field for investigation. Here are the key considerations:

  • Your topic should reflect the themes, periods, and areas covered in the IB History course.
  • Ensure there are ample primary and secondary sources available on your chosen topic. Reliable sources are essential for conducting thorough research.
  • Your topic should allow you to formulate a specific research question. Avoid overly broad issues that cannot be covered effectively within the word limit.
  • A good topic is well-defined and narrow enough to be manageable. Vague or overly broad issues can lead to superficial treatment of the subject matter.
  • Consider the feasibility of your topic. Can it be thoroughly researched and addressed within the constraints of the Extended Essay format?

Lastly, strive for a topic that offers a fresh perspective or researches less commonly discussed aspects of history. Originality can make your essay stand out and demonstrate your creativity and analytical skills.

extended essay topics history

IB Extended Essay Topics: History

Here are 30 topic ideas, along with their respective research questions, to inspire your project:

  1. The Impact of the Cold War on Space Research. How did the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union drive the space race, and what were its most significant outcomes?
  2. Women’s Suffrage Movements in the Early 20th Century. To what extent did women’s suffrage movements in Britain and the United States share common strategies and ideologies, and how did they differ?
  3. The Role of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. How did Nazi propaganda aim to create a unified national identity, and what methods were most effective?
  4. Economic Consequences of the Treaty of Versailles. What were the long-term economic impacts of the Treaty of Versailles on Germany, and how did they contribute to the rise of National Socialism?
  5. Decolonization and Independence Movements in Africa. How did the process of decolonization in Algeria compare with that in Kenya, and what factors contributed to the differences?
  6. The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Nuclear Standoff. What critical decisions did the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union make during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how did these decisions prevent a nuclear war?
  7. The Cultural Revolution in China. What were the primary goals of the Cultural Revolution in China, and to what extent were they achieved?
  8. Impact of the Silk Road on Cultural Exchange. How did the Silk Road facilitate cultural exchange between East and West, and what were its most significant impacts on the civilizations it connected?
  9. The Fall of the Roman Republic. What were the causes of the fall of the Roman Republic, and how did the transition to empire affect Roman society?
  10. The Vietnam War and Its Impact on American Society. How did the Vietnam War influence American public opinion on foreign policy and military engagement?
  11. The Development of Atomic Energy and Its Global Implications. How did the development of atomic energy during and after World War II influence global politics and the onset of the nuclear age?
  12. British Colonial Rule in India. What were British colonial rule’s economic, social, and political impacts on India, and how did they contribute to the Indian independence movement?
  13. The Influence of the Renaissance on Modern Western Thought. How did the Renaissance influence modern Western thought in art, science, and philosophy?
  14. The Role of Cryptography in World War II. How did the use of cryptography by Allied forces contribute to the outcome of World War II, specifically focusing on the Enigma machine?
  15. The French Revolution and the Rise of Napoleon. How did the French Revolution pave the way for Napoleon’s rise to power, and what were the key reforms he implemented?
  16. The Global Impact of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. How did the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 affect global populations differently, and what were its long-term impacts on public health policies?
  17. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and its Role in Sparking WWI. To what extent did the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand contribute to the outbreak of World War I, considering the complex web of alliances and tensions in Europe?
  18. The Influence of Social Media on the Arab Spring. How did social media act as a catalyst for political and social change during the Arab Spring, and what were its limitations?
  19. The Partition of India: Causes and Consequences. What were the primary causes of the Partition of India in 1947, and how have its consequences shaped the current political and social climates in India and Pakistan?
  20. The Impact of the Gold Rush on California’s Development. How did the California Gold Rush 1849 impact the state’s economic development, demographic changes, and social structures?
  21. The Salem Witch Trials: A Study of Fear and Social Paranoia. What factors contributed to the outbreak of the Salem witch trials, and what does this episode reveal about the social and psychological underpinnings of early American colonial society?
  22. The Role of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. What was the strategic significance of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and how did its participation affect the outcome of the war?
  23. The Chornobyl Disaster: A Historical Analysis of its Causes and Effects. What caused the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, and what have been its long-term environmental and health effects?
  24. The Development and Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. How did the transatlantic slave trade develop, and how did it impact African societies and economies?
  25. The Cultural and Political Impact of the Beatles. How did the Beatles influence cultural and political attitudes in the 1960s, particularly regarding youth culture and anti-war movements?
  26. The Evolution of Espionage During the Cold War. How did espionage tactics evolve during the Cold War, and what impact did intelligence activities have on the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States?
  27. The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire. What factors led to the Aztec Empire’s rapid rise and subsequent fall, and how did the Spanish conquest alter the course of Mexican history?
  28. The Influence of the Enlightenment on the American and French Revolutions. To what extent did Enlightenment ideas influence the ideologies and outcomes of the American and French Revolutions?
  29. The Berlin Airlift: A Turning Point in the Cold War. How did the Berlin Airlift signify a turning point in the Cold War, and what does it reveal about the powers’ strategies and priorities?
  30. The Impact of Apartheid on South African Society. What were the social, economic, and political impacts of apartheid on South African society, and how are its effects still felt today?
  31. The Economic Policies of Mao Zedong. How did Mao Zedong’s economic policies impact China’s rural population during the Great Leap Forward?
  32. The Rise of Feminism in the 20th Century. What key factors propelled the second wave of feminism in the United States during the 1960s?
  33. The Disintegration of Yugoslavia. What were the primary causes of the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and what role did ethnic tensions play?
  34. British Policies and the American Revolution. How did British economic and political policies in the colonies contribute to the outbreak of the American Revolution?
  35. The Global Influence of the Portuguese Empire. How did Portuguese maritime findings impact global trade patterns in the 16th century?
  36. The French Resistance during World War II. How effective was the French Resistance in thwarting Nazi operations during World War II?
  37. The Impact of the Panama Canal on Global Trade. How did the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 20th century affect global trade and geopolitical strategies?
  38. The Role of the Media in the Vietnam War. How did media coverage in the United States influence public opinion and policy decisions during the Vietnam War?
  39. The Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire. What economic and social factors led to the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807?
  40. The Influence of Nikola Tesla on Modern Electrical Engineering. How did Nikola Tesla’s inventions and theories contribute to the development of modern electrical engineering?
  41. The Cultural Impact of the Beatles Beyond Music. Beyond their musical contributions, how did the Beatles influence 1960s culture globally regarding fashion, lifestyle, and politics?
  42. The Effects of the Black Death on Medieval European Society. How did the Black Death alter the social and economic structures of medieval European societies?
  43. The Role of Women in World War I. How did women’s roles in the workforce and military change during World War I, and what were the long-term effects on gender roles?
  44. The Fall of the Berlin Wall and European Unification. What were the immediate and long-term impacts of the fall of the Berlin Wall on European political and economic unification?
  45. The Genocide in Rwanda: Causes and International Response. What were the leading causes of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and how effective was the international community’s response?
  46. The Economic Reforms of Atatürk in Turkey. How did Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s economic reforms transform Turkey in the early 20th century, and what long-term impacts did they have on Turkish society?
  47. The Decolonization of the Caribbean. How did the process of decolonization unfold in the Caribbean, and what were the primary factors that influenced the different paths taken by these territories?
  48. The Manhattan Project and its Consequences. What were the scientific, ethical, and political implications of the Manhattan Project on the international stage during and after World War II?
  49. The Influence of the Spanish Inquisition on European Society. How did the Spanish Inquisition affect religious and cultural life in Spain, and what were its repercussions throughout Europe?
  50. The Rise and Impact of the Zulu Kingdom. How did the rise of the Zulu Kingdom under Shaka Zulu influence the regional dynamics in Southern Africa?
  51. The Witch Trials in Early Modern Europe. What factors contributed to the outbreak of witch trials in early modern Europe, and how did societal attitudes towards these trials change over time?
  52. The Formation and Impact of NATO in the Cold War. What role did NATO play in the Cold War dynamics, and how did it influence the policies of both Western and Eastern bloc countries?
  53. The Boxer Rebellion and Its Impact on Chinese Imperial Rule. How did the Boxer Rebellion influence the course of Chinese history and its relationships with Western powers at the turn of the 20th century?
  54. The Social Effects of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. How did the Industrial Revolution transform social structures and day-to-day life in Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries?
  55. The Impact of the Great Depression on American Foreign Policy. How did the Great Depression affect the United States’ foreign policy, particularly in terms of isolationism and interventionism?

It is also a good idea to consult with your teacher or advisor to refine your choices. Seek feedback from peers or mentors who can provide fresh perspectives on your work.

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Every part of the writing process, from selecting a fascinating topic to conducting comprehensive research and constructing a convincing argument, provides a chance to improve your historical knowledge and academic skills. Also, our experienced IB writers are always ready to help you with extended essays on any subject.