AP® World History


Irina Popova, BA, MA, MBA

Course Description:

The AP® World History course is structured around the investigation of five course themes and nineteen key concepts in six different chronological periods, from approximately 8000 B.C.E. to the present. The key concepts support the investigation of historical developments within a chronological framework, while the themes allow students to make crucial connections across the time periods and across geographical regions. Students will understand the historical developments within each time period by using the key concept.

Great emphasis is placed on the honing of historical thinking skills, such as chronological reasoning, comparison, contextualization, argumentation, interpretation, and synthesis. In class the students will examine changes over time, including the causation of events as well as the major effects of historical developments, the interconnectedness of events over time, and the spatial interactions that occur over time that have geographic, political, cultural, and social significance. It is important for students to learn how to compare developments in different regions and in different time periods as well as contextualize important changes and continuities throughout world history.

This course is equivalent to two semesters of history to fulfill the general elective requirement at most universities.

Course Objectives:

AP® World History Geographical Coverage

The five major geographical regions of the AP® World History course include Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The AP World History course provides balanced geographical coverage with all five of these regions represented.

AP® World History Periodization

AP® World History course content is studied comparatively within and across the following periods of study:

Period 1: Technological and Environmental Transformation – to 600 B.C.E
Period 2: Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies – c. 600 B.C.E. to c. 600 C.E.
Period 3: Regional and Interregional Interactions – c. 600 C.E. to 1450 C.E.
Period 4: Global Interactions – c. 1450 C.E. to 1750 C.E.
Period 5: Industrialization and Global Integration – c. 1750 C.E. to 1900 C.E.
Period 6: Accelerating Global Change and Realignments – c. 1900 C.E. to the Present

AP® World History Historical Thinking Skills

The course is organized around the analysis of historical problems and/or questions, and students must demonstrate more than one historical thinking skill, such as:

  1. Analyzing Historical Sources and Evidence: analyzing evidence, content and sourcing, interpretation
  2. Making Historical Connections: comparison, contextualization, synthesis
  3. Chronological Reasoning: causation, patterns of continuity and change over time, periodization
  4. Creating and Supporting a Historical Argument: argumentation


AP® World History Course Themes and Corresponding Thematic Learning Objectives

The five AP® World History themes connect key concepts throughout the course and serve as the foundation for student learning. The themes are as follows:

Theme 1: Interaction Between Humans and the Environment (ENV)
Theme 2: Development and Interaction of Cultures (CUL)
Theme 3: State Building, Expansion, and Conflict (SB)
Theme 4: Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems (ECON)
Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures (SOC)


Peter N. Stearns; Michael B. Adas; Stuart B. Schwartz; Marc Jason Gilbert. World Civilizations: The Global Experience, Combined Volume Plus NEW MyHistoryLab with Pearson eText , 7th Edition. Pearson, 2015.

“My History Lab” resource, which is available online as a part of the package for the text book Stearns World Civilizations: The Global Experience contains numerous visual and written primary sources that will be used for analysis and interpretation.

AP® and Advanced Placement® are registered trademarks of the College Board. Used with permission.