IBDP History: Study Guide and Notes – New Syllabus 2017-2025 -HL option 1: History of Africa and the Middle East

IBDP History- Syllabus content HL option 1: History of Africa and the Middle East

1: The ‘Abbasid dynasty (750–1258)

The fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 749 is significant for the shift of the centre of the Islamic world from Damascus to Baghdad, and the establishment of a flourishing civilization that was officially destroyed only in the middle of the 13th century.

  • The fall of the Umayyads and the ‘Abbasid Revolution; reasons for ‘Abbasid defeat of the Umayyads, including the role of ‘Abbasid military power; the  consequences of the revolution; the shift of power from Syria to Iraq
  • Political, social and economic aspects of the first century of ‘Abbasid rule
  • Religious aspects of ‘Abbasid rule, the role of the Ulama
  • The impact of other civilizations on the ‘Abbasids; the Sassanian heritage
  • Case studies: al-Mansur; Harun al-Rashid; al-Ma’mun
  • Science, culture, philosophy and invention during the Golden Age of Islam
  • Decline of the empire; breakdown of ‘Abbasid authority; rifts and divisions; Mongol invasion

2: The Fatimids (909–1171)

This section focuses on the Ismaili branch of Shiism, which has its own distinct ideology. After their revolutionary rise to power in North Africa in 909, the Fatimids conquered Egypt and established an alternative Muslim capital in Cairo from 969. They exerted considerable influence in the Muslim world as the ‘Abbasid Empire fragmented, while also being a catalyst for economic and commercial development in the broader Mediterranean and Red Sea areas.

  • Foundation of the dynasty; political, economic and social factors
  • Conquest of Egypt and the foundation of Cairo; reasons for, and impact of, the conquest
  • Fatimid claims to the caliphate: the ‘Abbasids and Umayyads of Spain
  • Fatimid ideology and its historical impact; religious relations (Muslims, Coptic Christians, Jews)
  • Economic developments including trade within the Fatimid realm of influence
  • Height of the Fatimid Empire; government institutions; institutions of learning (Dar al-’Ilm)
  • Decline of the Fatimids: internal dissolution; external challenges
  • Case studies of two of the following: al-Mu’izz (953–975); al-Hakim (996–1021); al-Mustansir (1036– 1094)

3: The Crusades (1095–1291)

This section deals with the crusading movement, and reaction to it, from the Islamic world between the calling of the First Crusade and the collapse of the crusader states.

  • Origins of, and motives for, the Crusades: religious and secular; the holy places; pilgrimage and preaching; theory and practice of jihad
  • The First Crusade (1096–1099); the Second Crusade (1145–1149), Third Crusade (1189–1192) and Fourth Crusade (1202–1204): causes; extent of success;  consequences
  • Foundation of the crusader states: Jerusalem, Antioch, Edessa and Tripoli
  • Role and significance of key individuals: Godfrey de Bouillon, Richard I of England, Nur al-Din, Salah al- Din (Saladin) and Baibars
  • Military aspects of the Crusades: tactics, major battles and weapons; Templars, Hospitallers, Assassins
  • Reasons for successes and failures of both sides throughout the period of the Crusades
  • Impact and importance of the Crusades in the Middle East and in the Byzantine Empire

4: The Ottomans (1281–1566)

This section explores the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans, which represents a turning point in both western and Islamic history

  • Rise of the Ottomans: Anatolia and the Balkans
  • Effects of the foundation of the Ottoman Empire on Europe and Muslim lands
  • Rise of the Safavids and contest with the Ottomans
  • Ottoman expansion: reasons for; the conquests of Egypt and Syria; fall of the Mamluks—impact and significance
  • Military and administrative nature of the Ottoman Empire; changes to the Islamic world; Ottoman contribution to Islamic culture
  • Ottoman invasion and capture of Byzantium; reasons for, and consequences of, the fall of Constantinople (1453); its effect on transforming the Ottoman state
  • Case studies of two of the following: Mehmet II (1451–1481); Selim I (1512–1520); Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566)

5: Trade and the rise and decline of African states and empires (800–1600)

This section focuses specifically on the importance of trade in the rise and decline of African states and empires between 800 and 1600.

  • Types of trade: trans-Saharan trade in gold and salt—importance of different routes and control over these; impact of trade on the rise and decline of empires; Indian Ocean trade in slaves, ivory, spices and textiles
  • Impact of trade on the spread of religion and culture: the Islamization of East and West Africa; influence of Catholicism in the Kingdom of the Kongo
  • Ghana Empire (c830–1235): causes of the rise and decline of the Ghana Empire; system of government; social and economic organization; importance of trade; the Almoravid jihad
  • Mali Empire (c1230–1600): causes of the rise and decline of the Mali Empire; social, economic and administrative reforms; military organization; importance of Islam; trade
  • Rise and expansion of the Kingdom of the Kongo to 1600: political, social and economic organization
  • Swahili city states: importance of the Indian Ocean trade in the rise and growth of the city states; emergence of a cosmopolitan Swahili culture

6: Pre-colonial African states (1800–1900)

This section focuses on the factors influencing the rise of states/kingdoms in Africa in the pre-colonial period

  • Rise of the Zulu under Shaka; the Mfecane/Difaqane—social, political and economic causes and effects; rise of the Sotho under Moshoeshoe
  • Rise of the Sokoto Caliphate under Usman Dan Fodio, and its effects
  • Rise of the Niger Delta trading states: Nana and Jaja
  • Ethiopian unification and expansion under Tewodros II, Yohannes IV, Menelik II
  • Rise of the Mahdist state in Sudan
  • Case studies of the rise of two of the following:
    • the Mandinka Empire under Samori Toure; the Lozi kingdom under Lewanika; the Ndebele kingdom under Mziklikazi and Lobengula;

7: The slave trade in Africa and the Middle East (1500–1900)

This section focuses on slavery in Africa and the Middle East during the 16th to 19th centuries. It examines the East African and Atlantic slave trades during this period, as well as examining the decline of, and impact of movements for the abolition of, the slave trade.

  • Reasons for the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade from the 16th century: technological factors and the growth of maritime commerce; impact on the slave trade of plantation agriculture; existing practice of slavery in African societies; rivalries and warfare between African states
  • Reasons for the expansion of the East African slave trade from the late 18th century: existing slave trade between Arabia and the Swahili coast; expansion of the Sultanate of Oman into East Africa; rising international demand resulting from the ban on the Atlantic trade
  • Nature of the slave trade: its social and economic impact in Africa and the Middle East; role and significance of individuals
  • Causes of the decline of the Atlantic slave trade: industrialization and economic changes; role of the abolitionist movement; rise of legitimate commerce
  • Causes of the decline of the East African slave trade: humanitarian factors and the influence of missionaries; colonial expansion and the closing of the markets; decline of slavery in the Ottoman Empire
  • Impact and significance of anti-slavery Acts in the 19th century; including 1807 Slave Trade Act, 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, 1885 Berlin Act

8: European imperialism and the partition of Africa (1850–1900)

This section deals with the reasons for the growth of European interest in Africa in the 19th century, beginning with the activities of traders, explorers and missionaries. It examines both the European and the African background to partition, and analyses how the military and political weakness of African states
facilitated the European annexation of Africa.

  • Growth of European activity in Africa: opportunities presented by the decline of the Ottoman Empire; traders, missionaries and explorers; creeping colonization
  • Economic causes of partition: economic weaknesses in Europe; raw materials; search for new markets; role of chartered companies
  • Strategic causes of the partition: the sea route to the east; British actions in Egypt and South Africa, and the responses of other European powers
  • Other causes: national rivalry; humanitarian factors

9: Response to European imperialism (1870–1920)

This section focuses on the responses of communities and states to challenges to their independence.

  • Factors influencing decisions to resist: determination to preserve independence; brutality and inflexibility of the colonizing power; political structures;  military strength; access to firearms
  • Ethiopian resistance under Menelik II: reasons for success
  • Mandinka resistance to French rule: reasons for success and failure
  • Herero and Nama resistance in Namibia: reasons for failure
  • Cetshwayo and the conquest and destruction of the Zulu kingdom
  • The Asante Wars (1873, 1896, 1900): reasons for Asante resistance and British intervention
  • Factors influencing decisions to collaborate: pragmatism; willingness of the colonial power to negotiate; social, political and economic gains including protection; lack of alternative
  • Collaboration: Lewanika and Khama with the British
  • Resistance and collaboration in Buganda: Kabaka Mwanga and Apolo Kagwa, reasons for failure and success

10: Africa under colonialism (1890–1980)

This section focuses on the establishment of colonial administrative systems in East, Central and West Africa between 1890 and the establishment of independence.

  • British rule in Kenya: colonial administration; economic and social development to 1963
  • Tanganyika under German and British rule to 1961
  • Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia under British rule: economic and social development to 1965; the creation and collapse of the Central African Federation; Ian Smith and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence
  • Angola/Mozambique under Portuguese rule: economic and social development to 1975
  • Nigeria: direct and indirect rule; factors that promoted the choice of administrative system in Nigeria; economic and social development; regional rivalries; constitutional developments to 1960
  • Gold Coast: colonial administration; economic, social and political development to 1957
  • Senegal: colonial administration; economic, social and political development to 1960

11: 20th-century nationalist and independence movements in Africa

This section focuses on efforts at decolonization in Africa, focusing specifically on later attempts to regain political freedom.

  • Angola: liberation war; Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to independence in 1975
  • South-West Africa: South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) to independence for Namibia in 1990
  • Kenya: trade unions; Mau Mau; Jomo Kenyatta and Kenya African National Union (KANU) to 1963
  • Gold Coast to Ghana: Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party (CPP) to independence in 1957
  • French West Africa: nationalism, political parties and independence in Senegal in 1960
  • Tanganyika: Tanganyika African National Union; Julius Nyerere to 1961

12: The Ottoman Empire (c1800–1923)

This section focuses on the decline and collapse of Ottoman power

  • Challenges to Ottoman power in the early 19th century: Greek War of Independence; Muhammad Ali in Egypt
  • The Eastern Question: European challenges and Ottoman responses; Crimean War; causes and outcomes of 19th-century crises in the Balkans
  • Decline of Ottoman power in the Middle East and North Africa: Egypt, Libya, Algeria; Lebanon
  • Attempts at internal reform and modernizations: causes, aims and effects of Tanzimat reforms; Abdul Hamid—reaction and reform
  • Growth of the Committee of Union and Progress to 1908–1909; reforms of the Young Turks; Balkan Wars (1912 and 1913)
  • Ottoman Empire in the First World War: reasons for entry; impact of war; rise of Ataturk and collapse of empire.

13: War and change in the Middle East and North Africa 1914–1945

This section focuses on the impact of the First World War in the Middle East and North Africa, including consideration of the post-war territorial and political settlements in the region. The question of the Palestine mandate—including British administration and policies, and the origins and development of the Arab–
Jewish dispute up to 1945—is a particular area of focus.

  • Allied diplomacy in the Middle East: McMahon–Hussein correspondence; Sykes–Picot; Arab Revolt; Balfour Declaration
  • Effects of Paris peace treaties: territorial and political impact; mandate system; British and French administration in Iraq, Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon
  • Egypt after the First World War: nationalism; emergence of Wafd Party; Declaration of Independence; British influence
  • Palestine mandate: economic, social and political developments; impact of Jewish immigration and settlement; British responses and policies
  • Ataturk and the Turkish Republic: aims and policies; impact on Turkish society; successes and failures
  • Case study on Iran, Saudi Arabia or a North African state: economic, political and social developments; western influences; attempts at modernization

14: Africa, international organizations and the international community (20th century)

This section focuses on how Africa was affected by, and itself impacted on, international organizations in the 20th century. These include the League of Nations, the United Nations (UN) and its specialized agencies, and regional organizations such as the East African Community.

  • League of Nations: Abyssinian Crisis (1934–1936); causes and consequences of the failure of the League of Nations to deal with Italian aggression
  • Organization of African Unity (OAU) and African Union (AU): objectives, structure, successes and failures
  • Regional organizations: East African Community (EAC) (1967–1977); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC)/Southern African Development Community (SADC); successes and failures
  • Africa and the UN: Congo, Mozambique, Somalia and Rwanda: reasons for successes and failures; wider impact
  • UN specialized agencies: a case study of the impact of any two agencies
  • The Cold War and its impact on Africa: a case study of the impact on any two African countries

15: Developments in South Africa 1880–1994

This section focuses on South Africa between 1880 and 1994. It examines the political, economic and social consequences of the discovery of minerals and the struggle by the Boers to regain political power. It also examines the causes of the South African War (1899–1902) and the short-term and long-term results,
including the establishment of the Union government

  • Discovery of diamonds and gold: political, social and economic consequences
  • South African War (1899–1902): causes—economic, political, strategic; course and consequences; the Treaty of Vereeniging and developments leading to the Act of Union (1909)
  • Policies of Smuts and Hertzog (1910–1948); segregation, discrimination and protest
  • National Party: reasons for the election victory of 1948; nature and impact of apartheid policies of Malan; Verwoerd and Grand Apartheid: the Bantustan system
  • Resistance to apartheid: radicalization of resistance; the African National Congress (ANC); Sharpeville and the decision to adopt armed struggle; Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness movement; Soweto massacre; township unrest in the 1980s
  • International opposition to apartheid: the impact of the economic boycott
  • The end of the apartheid system: De Klerk’s lifting of the ban on the ANC; release of Mandela and his role in the transition to democracy; the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA); the 1994 elections

16: Social and cultural developments in Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries

This section focuses on social and cultural developments in Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. It explores the impact of colonialism on African society, particularly for education, art and culture, as well as for the status of women in society.

  • Factors promoting and inhibiting the spread of Islam and Christianity in Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • The African Independent Churches movement; reasons for the creation and growth of Africanist churches
  • Changing social and cultural values
  • Changing role of women
  • Social and cultural impact of technological developments
  • Impact of immigration and emigration
  • Developments in the arts: the impact of colonialism on art and culture
  • Developments in education

17: Post-war developments in the Middle East (1945–2000)

This section deals with the issues of nationalism, communalism, modernization and westernization in the Middle East after 1945. It requires examination of the issues of domestic reforms and the extent to which they proved acceptable and/or successful in achieving their aims, as well as consideration of the influence
of outside interference on developments within the region generally or in specific states.

  • Origins of the state of Israel: post-war tensions and instability in the mandate; causes and effects of the 1948–1949 War
  • Arab–Israeli conflicts: Suez Crisis, Six Day War, 1973 War; effects of conflicts—occupied territories, intifadas, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); attempts at peacemaking up to, and including, Camp David (2000)
  • Post-war Egypt: Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak—political developments; economic and social policies; Pan- Arabism and the United Arab Republic (UAR)
  • Post-war Iran: modernization and westernization under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; western influence; White Revolution; origins and effects of the 1979 Revolution; post-revolution Iran and effects of the Iran–Iraq War
  • Lebanon: civil wars; outside interference and reconstruction; Confessional state; economic, religious and social tensions; growth of militias and the PLO

18: Post-independence politics in Africa to 2005

This section deals with the new challenges and new problems that came with independence in Africa. It provides an opportunity to explore the ways, and reasons why, the countries of the region attempted to solve their problems of disease, illiteracy, poverty and economic development. It explores the reasons for, and the impact of, ethnic conflict, civil war and military intervention in African politics

  • Causes of ethnic conflict, civil war and military intervention: including ethnic tensions, economic problems, destabilization by outside forces, inefficiency of civilian governments, ideology, and personal ambition
  • Impact of ethnic conflict, civil war and military intervention; impact of military rule
  • Social and economic challenges: disease, illiteracy, poverty, famine; neo-colonial economic exploitation
  • Establishment of single-party states; reasons for establishment, including personal ambition, failure of democracy, and need for effective government
  • Return to multi-party democracy in the 1980s and 1990s: reasons for successes and failures
  • Economic growth and development to 2005: reasons for growth, including political stability and multi-partyism; leadership; infrastructural development; investment; economic reforms
Scroll to Top