Writing a dissertation is one of the most challenging and exciting moments of an academic career. Such work usually takes a great deal of time, courage, and intellectual effort to complete. That’s why every step in your work process is essential.
It all starts with finding a good topic, which can be a challenge of its own. It especially matters when it comes to liberal arts subjects. In social studies, literature, or world history options are practically endless.
Coming up with history dissertation ideas, you need to think of historical events that interest you. We get it, choosing one is tough. There can be too much to wrap your head around. That’s why IvyPanda experts prepare some dissertation topics in history ready for you.
🧐 How to Choose a History Dissertation Topic?
Before examining our ideas for dissertation topics in history, you should get ready for this. You have to understand how to pick a history dissertation topic, which will ensure your academic success. Keep in mind that this is a vital step in your career.
So, check some tips on picking what to write about:
- Make sure that the topic fits in your field of study. You have to understand what you’re writing about. Basing your paper on existing knowledge and experience is a part of any dissertation. Working on an overly complicated idea can sound impressive but lead to failure. It will become a nightmare already on the stage of writing a dissertation proposal. How can you write the entire thing without comprehending it?
- Estimate whether you’re interested in the topic you intend to write on. Although this might seem obvious, yes. However, being actually invested makes a massive difference for your further work. There are plenty of students who settle for “easy but boring” topics and end up struggling twice as much.
- Ensure that your topic is specific enough. Your idea should have the potential for fruitful research. Narrowing down your area of study is essential for writing a good dissertation. It helps you to find the direction of your examination and enough sources to work with. Moreover, this way, you’ll be able to explore your topic in its entirety.
- Do some prior research. It will give you an understanding of how much literature on your topic is out there. Take notes of the materials for the reference list and your analysis.
- Don’t be shy to ask your dissertation advisor for some assistance. After all, they are here to help and guide you through the process. Besides, you have to see what ideas they consider relevant and appropriate.
👍 Good Dissertation Topics in History: Time Period
History is a subject as ancient and vast as the humankind itself. It’s only rational to study it according to a particular timeline. Here are some good history dissertation topics for different periods.
🏺 Ancient History Dissertation Topics
- Ancient Civilizations: The Maya Empire. The Maya was an incredibly powerful Empire with its prime around six century A.D., excelling in mathematics, calendar-making, astrology, and writing. It faced the decline of its city-states in nine century A.D., leaving a rich cultural heritage to the studies of subsequent generations.
- Women’s Roles and Gender relations in the Ancient World
- Greek City-States. Ancient Greece is the place where the first city-states were formed. How did the first governments in the ancient history timeline develop? How did people’s attitudes towards leadership change in that context?
- The Impact of Mongol Invasion in Ancient Arab
- The Role of Poets and the place of Poetry in Ancient Greece
- Mesopotamian Civilization. This was a fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It has been home to some of the world’s wealthiest and most advanced ancient cities. It can also make an excellent archaeology dissertation topic. There are plenty of fascinating sites that could be studied.
- History: Ancient Greek Olympics. Started in 776 BC, the Olympic Games were the most important cultural event in Ancient Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus every four years. Besides, the Olympics were representative of the triumph of physical and spiritual power.
- Warfare and Violence in Ancient Times. Try to do a comparative analysis of warfare techniques used by different ancient civilizations. It could be a great dissertation topic.
- Plutarch’s Vision on Alexander the Great
- Dissolution of the Roman Empire. The Empire sprawled from the coast of North Africa to the territories of the modern UK and Armenia. Once, it was the most powerful political entity in the entire Mediterranean. The empire, however, collapsed in 476 CE. What were the reasons for its eventual decline?
- The Invention of Papyrus and its impact on the World
- Chichen Itza Archaeological Site. Chichen Itza is a great pre-Columbian archaeological site, home to the Maya civilization. It is a fascinating study case in many aspects. Consider the origins and Maya history. Analyze the cultural preservation issues that it faces nowadays.
- Egyptian Pyramid’s Importance in Egypt’s society
- The Stone Age Period and its Evolution
🛡 Medieval History Dissertation Ideas
- Cultural Exchanges in the Medieval Period. In the aftermath of the Roman Empire’s fall, new geopolitical conditions formed. The early Middle Ages period already marked the appearance of new trade routes. It fostered cultural exchange between nations.
- Rome in the Middle Ages and its cultural transformation
- The Catholic Church and the Black Death in the 14th Century. During the high Middle Ages, the plague epidemic terrorized Europe. It was a dreadful challenge to medicine, religious institutions, and the social apparatus of the time. How did the Catholic Church deal with such a complex and disastrous medical phenomenon?
- Jews and Muslims in Medieval Spain. Christian, Islamic, and Jewish communities shared the Iberian peninsula in the early Middle Ages. It formed a vibrant cultural environment.
- Causes of the First Crusade of 1095-1099
- Business and Empire, the British ideal of an Orderly World
- The Role of the Church in the life of the Middle Ages
- Medieval Siege Warfare. Exploring methods of defense used during the Middle Ages might be an interesting research project.
- Why the Crusades Failed
- The Mechanical Water clock of Ibn Al-Haytham, his philosophy of the rise and fall of empires
- The Dark Ages as the Golden Ages of European History. Plenty of facts demonstrate civilization’s decline during the Middle Ages. It was, nevertheless, the time of significant scientific, literary, and technological progress. For some interested in writing a medieval literature dissertation: think of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Da Vinci made his groundbreaking study projects during the Middle Ages. It was the time when first universities, such as Cambridge and Oxford, were founded. Overall, this period has a lot to offer!
- Japan’s Development Under Edo/Tokugawa Shogunate
- Medieval Convivencia: Document Analysis
🕰 Modern History Dissertation Topics
- Nationalism and its 19th Century History
- Religious Symbolism in Renaissance paintings. Renaissance is well-known as a period when fine arts were thriving. It was an early modern birthplace of many technological and cultural advancements. Religion, however, was still a central topic in visual art.
- Industrial Revolution and its Impact on Western Civilizations
- Principles of Liberalism and Its Connection to Enlightenment and Conservatism
- “History and Topography of Ireland” by Gerald of Wales. Looking for an incredible Irish history dissertation topic? Then this document might be an interesting prompt. Its somewhat controversial tone of describing contemporary Irish culture, history, and traditions can be subject to a comprehensive analysis.
- Moral treatment of Mental Illness. Over the 19th and 20th centuries, psychology has changed. Moving from a scientific periphery, it became one of the central subjects of scholarly discussions. Mental illnesses were highly disregarded in earlier centuries. People even considered them to be manifestations of demonic possession. How did this attitude change? Why did people rethink psychology as a scholarly discipline?
- Conquest and Colonization of America by European Countries. Colonization of America is one of the grandest enterprises in the world’s political history. What were its driving forces?
- Origins and Trajectory of the French Revolution
- Major Impacts of Consumerism in contemporary world history
- Coco Chanel Fashion: History of Costume. Probably not the first topic for a history dissertation that comes to mind. Chanel is truly an iconic figure in modern history, though. She revolutionized the fashion industry concerning gender as well.
- Causes of the Breakup of the Former Yugoslavia
- The Russian Working Class Movement. Before 1861, the agriculture and peasant-owning system were the foundation of the Russian Empire’s economy. Serfs made up a significant part of the population, accounting for over 60% in some regions. Then the serfdom abolition happened. A lot has changed in the economic and social life of the country.
- Segregation During the 1960s
- Monetary and Fiscal Policy during the Great Depression
🔔 History Dissertation Topics on Cold War
- The Role of Cold War in Shaping Transatlantic Relations in the Period from 1945 to 1970
- The showdown between the United States and the USSR. Cold Was was essentially the power struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. It unleashed in the aftermath of World War II. This political precedent came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the answer to the “Who won the Cold War?” question may be unclear.
- The Cuban Missile Crisis, its causes, and effects
- US Foreign Policy during the Cold War. Cold War, as a phenomenon, has many layers to it. Yet the one crucial is the contest of two ideologies: democracy and communism. How did the US shape its foreign policy and pursue its interests abroad? And how did the cultural and political setup within the country adjust to it?
- To what extent did the Cold War shape the US relations with Latin America?
- Japan’s role since the end of the Cold War
- Cold War Politics, Culture, and War. Exploring the Cold War causes and effects can be quite a challenge. It is such a multifaceted phenomenon. It was a war led on many fronts. Both USSR and the US pursued their interests using a variety of methods.
- How did Cold War propaganda influence the film industry?
- What were the challenges in the post-cold war world?
🗺 History Dissertation Topics: Geographical Regions
Every country has its historical course, and so does every continent. Geography has always been an important factor when talking about history. It shapes historical trajectory in varied, unique ways.
Look at a dissertation topics history list based on geographical regions:
🦅 American History Dissertation Topics
- History of Hollywood, California. Oh, Hollywood. A place where American movie history was born. What about Hollywood’s history? Although a less traditional American history dissertation topic, it is still a fascinating one. Explore the way technological advancements in filmmaking were introduced over the decades. How did they influence the film’s general style?
- History: Migration into the United States. How did migration influence the economy of the time?
- Literary works’ Views on Slavery in the United States
- What is the real meaning of a cowboy?
- Attack on Pearl Harbor: Effects of Foreign policy
- Causes of Depression in the 1890s
- Post-Civil War reconstruction. Consider the way America’s economy, trade, and finance transformed in the aftermath of the Civil War.
- Principal causes and consequences of the Spanish-American War
- The Significance of the Frontier in American History
- How is a “new racial narrative” in the U.S.A created?
- American Revolution and the Crisis of the Constitution of the U.S.A. Rethink the origins of the American constitution, as well as the following events. It could be an exciting thesis idea for an American history dissertation.
- Growth and Development of San Francisco and Los Angeles after the Gold Rush
🏰 European History Dissertation Topics
- Age of Discovery in Europe. The Age of Exploration in Europe lasted from the 15th to the 17th century. Over this period, Europe actively engaged with other territories and continents. Discoverers formed new international relations and expanded geographical knowledge. This topic could also make an excellent cultural history dissertation.
- Analyzing the Impact of British Colonization
- Nationalism in World War II
- Effects of the Industrial Revolution concerning World War I
- The Rise and Fall of Napoleon and the Cause of Revolution. Napoleon is one of the most prominent figures in French history. What has shaped his career as a political leader?
- History of Hitler’s Nazi Propaganda. Consider a brief history of Germany. Undoubtedly, the rule of Hitler and the Third Reich was its most devastating chapter. The “art” of propaganda flourished during the nazi regime. It penetrated the cultural, political, and social life of the country.
- Napoleon’s Strategy and Tactics in his Invasion of Russia. For someone interested in writing a military history dissertation.
- Industrial Revolution Impact on Gender Roles
- Witchcraft in Europe (1450-1750). Witch hunts took place as early as the Middle Ages in Europe. Held by the Church in most cases, witch hunts targeted those who were suspected of practicing black magic. Examine this both astonishing and problematic phenomenon.
- French Revolution: Liberal and Radical Portions
- History of Feudalism. Feudalism dominated the European way of life during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. What were its distinctive features as a system? Why did it eventually fade away?
- Europe’s perception of Islam in the Early and Middle centuries
- Cold War Consequences for European Countries
- Early Modern England: a Social History
- Jewish Insight of Holocaust
⛰ Indian History Dissertation Topics
- History of the Indian Castes. The Indian Caste system is a complex and unique example of social stratification.
- Mahatma Gandhi’s Leadership. Gandhi is, for sure, among the greatest human rights advocates in the world’s history. His one of a kind leadership style is subject to many studies. While practicing a peaceful form of civil protest, he fought for equality, independence, and compassion.
- Impacts of the First World War on British Policies in India
- Movement Against the British rule in India. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, with the support of the National Congress, the movement took place in 1920-22. It sought to fight for the freedom of Indians.
- The Issues of the Partitioning of India in 1947
- India Since 1900. India is a region rich with unique traditions. Its spiritual and cultural heritage goes back to antiquity. The country’s authentic art and architecture, music, and cuisine have served as an inspiration worldwide. A considerable part of its history is, however, affected by British rule.
- Women in Hinduism and Buddhism
🌍 African History Dissertation Topics
- Ancient Societies in Mesopotamia and Ancient Societies in Africa: a comparison. Egypt is one of the most ancient African civilizations. Its origins go back to the third millennium B.C. Back then, the cultural exchange between Egypt and Mesopotamia was flourishing. What were the significant differences between the two civilizations? What did they have to offer to one another?
- Did History of Modern South Africa begin with the Discovery of Diamonds and Gold?
- Nelson Mandela: “Freedom in Africa.” Nelson Mandela is, without a doubt, one of the central figures in African history. His devotion and tireless effort in fighting against apartheid were remarkable. Thanks to him, many sub-Saharan countries enjoy the freedoms and advances of a democratic society.
- The Cult of the Dead in West Africa: The Kongo People. African tribal rituals and traditions are unique and specific to their region. Cult of the Dead is prevalent in Western African culture. It can be notoriously known as the origin place of voodoo and other black magic practices. There is yet much more to this culture. Dismantling some prejudices could make an excellent African history thesis.
- Christianity, Slavery, and Colonialism: the paradox
- The Colonial War in Southwest Africa
- African-Europe Relations between 1800 and 2000
- African Communities in America
🎨 Art History Dissertation Topics
Art comes in all shapes and forms. To grasp it better, we can explore each kind separately. Here’s a list of art history dissertation ideas:
🎶 Topics on Performing Arts
- History and Development of Ballet. Ballet is an art form with a long history. Initially, a specific dance originated in Medieval Italy. It was later brought to France and Great Britain. Ballet thrived in the 20th century Russia, where Russian choreographers brought it to the highest level of mastery.
- The Life and Work of William Shakespeare: His Contribution to The Contemporary Theater
- Jazz Music in American Culture. Jazz is one of the most complex and exciting music genres of all time. It was born in the 20’s century black communities of New Orleans and quickly spread across America and then the world. The genre, however, will always be an integral part of African-American identity.
- Rock Music of the 1970s
- Development of the Symphony Orchestra in the 19th and 20th Century
- Woodstock Music Festival. This massive music festival that first took place in 1969 was the epitome of hippie culture. It has a rich history that once again underscores the importance of performing arts in Western culture.
- The History of Modern Chinese Music
- The Renaissance Theater Development. The era in which both visual and performing arts were thriving. It has a lot to offer for proper dissertation research.
🖼Topics on Visual Arts
- Vincent Van Gogh: Changes in the Technique
- Orientalism in Western Art. It’s commonly associated with romanticism and some 20th-century artworks. Orientalism is a Western term that speculates the aesthetics of the Orient. Consider this concept as a prism through which Westerners viewed the Eastern world.
- Classical Art and Cubism: History and Comparison
- Postmodern and Modern Art. The 20th and 21st centuries have been a breeding ground for many forms of fine art to emerge and flourish. Some art movements presented their philosophy in the form of manifestos. These texts can be nothing but a pure treasure for someone writing an art history dissertation.
- Female Figures in Ancient Greek Sculpture
- Andy Warhol’s Career. Pioneer of pop-art, creator of Studio 54, and a style icon.
- Filippo Brunelleschi and Religious Architecture
- The Photographic Approaches Towards American Culture of Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand
📋 How to Structure Your Dissertation?
An adequately structured history dissertation can immensely help students. It ensures that they present their ideas and thoughts logically. Sticking to a particular dissertation structure is an essential element of such work.
The general plan of any dissertation type is the following:
- Title Page. A title page should only contain essential information about your work. It usually shows your name, type of the document (thesis, research paper, dissertation), and the title itself. A good history dissertation title is crucial! It’s the first thing a reader will see.
- Acknowledgments. Do you wish to give credit to someone for supporting you during the tiresome months of your work? This is the right part to do so, be it your family, friends, or professors. It is an excellent form to express gratitude to those who proofread your drafts. Or those who brought you another cup of coffee when you needed it.
- Declaration. This section is your written confirmation. You declare that all the research and writing is entirely original and was conducted by you. If someone intellectually contributed to your project, state it in the acknowledgments.
- Table of Contents. Essentially, it’s a brief structure of your dissertation. List every section that you’ve included in your academic paper here.
- Abstract. This is the section where you write a brief summary of your dissertation. It should describe the issue, summarize your core message and essential points. List your research methods and what you’ve done. Remember to make it short, as the abstract shouldn’t exceed 300 words or so. Finish the part with a few essential keywords so that others can find your work.
- Introduction. A dissertation introduction presents the subject to the reader. You can talk about the format of your work. Explain what you plan to contribute to the field with your research.
- Literature Review. The chapter reviews and analyzes pieces of scholarly work (literature) that have been made on the subject of your research. The sources should present relevant theories and support your thesis. Be sure to discuss the weaknesses and strengths of the selected area of study and highlight possible gaps in this research.
- Methodology. This part talks about the methods and procedures that you’ve used. List every method you implemented while researching, analyzing, and investigating data. Include:
- a code of conduct;
- research limitations;
- research philosophy;
- research design;
- ethical consideration;
- data collection methods;
- data analysis strategy.
- Findings and Results. Restate everything you have found in your research. However, do not interpret the data or make any conclusions yet.
- Discussion and Conclusion. In this chapter, you should personally interpret all of the data and make conclusions based on your research. It is essential to establish a logical link between the results and evidence. Finally, conclude the overall study. You can add final judgments, opinions, and comments.
- References. This section contains a list of references to all the sources that you used. Write down every material, which you quoted, mentioned, or paraphrased in your work. Check your educational institution’s guidelines to see how to do so correctly.
- Bibliography. Similar to the reference section, a bibliography is a list of sources you used in your dissertation. The only difference is that it should contain even the sources you don’t directly mention in your writing. Whatever helped you with the research, you state here.
- Appendices. The section may include any supplementary information that explains and complement the arguments. Add pictures, diagrams, and graphs that serve as examples for your research subject.
Writing a dissertation is the right challenge for those with ambitions and lots of determination. It is a lot like a marathon, and it starts with choosing the right topic. We hope that you will find one for yourself on this list. Good luck! Share the article to help those who may need a piece of advice or some history dissertation topics.