Course Syllabus

Welcome to HIST103: World History in the Early Modern and Modern Eras (1600–Present)

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.


Course Description

Learn about the political, economic, social, and technological transformations in world history from the 17th century to the present, with a special emphasis on global interactions.


Course Introduction

This course will present a comparative overview of world history from the 17th century to the present era. You will examine the origins of major economic, political, social, cultural, and technological trends of the past 400 years and explore the impact of these trends on world societies. This course will be structured chronologically and thematically, with each unit focusing on a significant historical subject. The units will include representative primary-source documents and images that illustrate important overarching themes, such as the emergence of modern nation-states, the economic and technological interactions between Western and non-Western peoples, the changing social and cultural perceptions about religion and the state, and the development of physical and virtual networks of information exchange.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Global Networks of Exchange in the 1600s
  • Unit 2: Conflict and Empire in the 1600s and 1700s
  • Unit 3: Religious, Intellectual, and Political Revolutions in the 1600s–1800s
  • Unit 4: Scientific and Industrial Revolutions of the 1600s and 1700s
  • Unit 5: New Imperialism During the Long 19th Century
  • Unit 6: World War I
  • Unit 7: The Rise of Totalitarian States in the 20th Century
  • Unit 8: The Second World War and the New World Order
  • Unit 9: The Cold War and Decolonization
  • Unit 10: Global Society in a Post-Cold War World


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • think critically about world history in the early modern and modern eras;
  • assess how global trade networks shaped the economic development of Asia, Europe, and the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries;
  • identify the origins of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe and assess the social and political consequences of these movements for the peoples of Europe;
  • identify the origins of the Enlightenment in Europe and assess how Enlightenment ideas led to political and social revolutions in Europe and the Americas;
  • identify the origins of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions in Europe and assess how these intellectual and economic movements altered social, political, and economic life across the globe in the 18th and 19th centuries;
  • compare and contrast how European imperialism affected the states and peoples of Asia, Africa, and the Americas in the 19th century;
  • identify the origins of World War I and analyze how the war's outcome altered economic and political balances of power throughout the world;
  • identify the origins of totalitarian political movements across the globe in the 1920s and 1930s and assess how these movements led to World War II;
  • analyze how World War II reshaped power balances throughout the world and led to the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers;
  • assess how decolonization movements in the 1950s and 1960s altered political, economic, and social relationships between the United States, the nations of Europe, and developing countries throughout the world;
  • assess how the end of the Cold War led to political and economic realignments throughout the world and encouraged the growth of new global markets and systems of trade and information exchange; and
  • analyze and interpret primary source documents from the 17th century through the present, using historical research methods.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.


Thomas Edison State University TECEP Exam Alignment

This course is designed to align with a Thomas Edison State University TECEP examination. Visit the TECEP website and click on "World History from 1600 to Present (HIS-126-TE)" to download the content guide for the exam. For more information about this partnership, and earning credit through Thomas Edison State University, see here.


Tips for Success

HIST103: World History in the Early Modern and Modern Eras (1600–Present) is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 86 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course offers the optional opportunity for college credit through Thomas Edison State University's TECEP exam, which has additional associated fees. Please see this page for more information on the cost of the TECEP exam.

Last modified: Monday, September 28, 2020, 4:36 PM