Are you about to start your History internal assessment? We know the struggle. One of the most difficult parts about the task is finding a good History IA topic because it feels like you can just write about anything. The IB breaks it down into 7 main different types of topics that you can choose, though.
- a historical topic or theme using written sources or a variety of sources
- a historical topic based on fieldwork, for example, a museum, archeological site, battlefields, places of worship such as mosques or churches, historic buildings
- a historical problem using documents (this could include newspapers)
- a local history study
- a historical study based on oral interviews
- a historical investigation based on interpreting a novel, film or work of art
- a historical investigation of cultural issues.
If this doesn’t spark any ideas, check out the list below that the IB publishes about how to go about finding your History IA Topic! Try going through this 12-point checklist.
- Start by identifying a general area of interest.
- Narrow it down to a specific question or area of investigation.
- Choose a working title that may be changed or refined at a later stage.
- Make sure sufficient resources can be obtained for the planned investigation. (See: The Research Process)
- Read widely around the area of study and note down resources used.
- Review the research question and refine it if necessary.
- Take notes from resources, gathering evidence and diverse opinions.
- Ensure accurate use of referencing.
- Sort evidence thematically or chronologically.
- Choose two suitable sources to evaluate in section 1.
- Review your analysis. Check for differing viewpoints where appropriate.
- Write the investigation, according to IB guidelines.
Still struggling? Well, this is what you came for… a list of 25 great History IA Topic ideas that have scored well in the past!
NOTE: These topics are purely meant as inspiration and are not to be chosen blindly. Even though many of these topics led to high scores for some of our graduates in the past, it is important that you listen to the advice of your subject teacher before choosing any topic!
- Look at the impact of Marxism or nationalism in Europe after the 1850s.
- Assess the role of Piedmont-Sardinia in the Italian unification between 1850 and 1861.
- Assess the pros and cons of the Napoleon III domestic policies, and how they succeeded or failed.
- Analyse Richard Attenborough’s esteemed film Gandhi
- How did the roles of Lenin and Trotsky differ in the development of the USSR between 1918 and 1924.
- Look at the impact of the EU in the after 1950s. Narrow it down to a specific decade, country, or relationship between specific countries.
- Why did communist countries in Eastern Europe fall in the late 1980s?
- Is the art of George Grosz useful to the historian of Weimar Germany?
- Look at the construction of a holy site such as a church or temple and how that affected the town it was located in.
- How did Chinese communists use Chinese opera as propaganda, or to promote specific ideologies, during the Cultural Revolution?
- Investigate the guild system in Norwich and how it affected the development of the city.
- How did the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration use pictures as propaganda to further its programmes?
- To what extent is Portuguese exploration inspired by the work of Henry the Navigator?
- Look at the early 19th century in Austria and how it was a period of dramatic change.
- To what extent can Nixon’s Vietnamization policy be considered a success?
- Did collective security become a victim of economic problems in the inter-war years?
- Examine David Low’s political cartoons. Did they properly show the general opinion of the public in Britain in the lead-up to WWII? Why or why not?
- Choose a film like The Charge of the Light Brigade or its corresponding book and analyze the stances taken in that artform.
- How did the Amadeus film portray the illness and death of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?
- Was Hitler’s “euthanasia” policy distinctively Nazi?
- Examine the role of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. Was it purely built to limit the freedom of East Germany or did it have a secondary purpose?
- Examine the crossing of Luding Bridge in 1935 and the impact it had at the time.
- Deep-dive into the Rwandan Genocide. Analyze the causes, underlying tensions, or the build-up of the country post-genocide.
- Look at the Boston Massacre in 1776 and what the reasons were for the event.
- Look at a town that was bombed during WWII (Guernica, Dresden, or other) and explore the reasons behind the bombing as well as the impact on the citizens at the time, and the continued effect of it today.
There you have it! 25 topics that we think could form the foundation of a pretty good History IA. Remember that in order to get into the top marks of the IA you’ll have to take these topics, scrutinize them, make them your own, and consider if you think you can write a good paper on them. Although a good topic makes a big difference, the bulk of your score will naturally come from your research and writing, not just choosing an interesting topic!