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91 Modern History Topics: Essential Essay Ideas & Questions

Modern history covers an impressive number of significant events. It is fascinating but, at the same time, quite complicated. Therefore, the understanding of the key concepts can be challenging.

The unpredicted turn of events and difficulties in setting the exact time frames often confuse people. As a result, they become lost and discouraged. Sometimes, history studying even becomes a real torture for students.

Are you struggling with the search for modern history topics for your essay? You are on the right page! The selection of the appropriate and useful ideas for your successful paper has never been this easy. Our team created a comprehensive modern history topics list. We encourage you to use it to write a well-developed and robust history essay.

📋 The Periods of Modern History

To find relevant history essay topics, you need to be confident in detecting the time frames. The modern history is divided into three periods:

  • Early Modern Period (1500-1750)
  • Late Modern Period (1750-1945)
  • Contemporary Period (1945-present)

For your convenience, we divided modern history essay questions into several categories. We grouped our ideas according to location and time frames.

These modern history topics are for both essays and research papers.

For a proper search, first, choose a country of your interest—it can be the USA, for instance. Then, decide on the period that your assignment requires. For example, you may need interesting 20th-century history topics. After that, go to the corresponding section and explore the topic list. Pick one that you find the most fascinating and start creating your successful essay!

🗺️ Modern World History Topics

Starting from the 16th century and moving to the present times, modern history is developing. Think about it: what we have now reflects on what happened in the past. Analyzing the impact of historical events and figures, we cannot deny their significance.

The civilization went through two world wars, the industrial revolution, demographic movements, etc. All these events contribute to world development to a great extent.

Below, you’ll see modern history essay questions and topics. To examine a picked title on a deeper level, you may need to quite a lot of research. Worth it, though.

🐉 16th-17th Centuries

  1. Religious symbolism in renaissance paintings.
  2. China’s Qing Dynasty.
  3. The growth of Daoism during the late Qing dynasty.
  4. How did Buddhism become a tool of the Chinese Empire’s transformation?
Buddha presented the Four Noble Truths as guiding principles.
Source: Khanacademy.org
  1. The 17th-century Catholic church: the historical authenticity vs. horizon expansion.
  2. What was the history of the human rights’ evolution vs. violation in the modern world?
  3. Ottoman–Safavid war of 1623–1639: a great conflict between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia.
  4. Slavery in Africa. What was the dimension of slavery in Africa? Comment on who and how acquired native population for slavery. What were the roles of salves? Discuss the effects of slavery in Africa.
  5. Qing dynasty: the last dynasty of China. How was the Qing dynasty developing? Comment on the origins of the Qing dynasty. Investigate political and economic development during the Qing Dynasty. How did the dynasty collapse?
  6. Renaissance as the Revival of the World. What are the time frames of the Renaissance period? Discuss the origins of the Renaissance. Introduce the leading representatives of the Renaissance period? Explain why humanism was the central concept of the renaissance period.

🚂18th-19th Centuries

  1. The industrial revolution and beyond: culture, work, and social change.
  2. What was the role of trade unions in the 18th-19th centuries?
  3. Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878.
  4. Evolution of the scientific revolution: the development of science.
  5. History of Fukuzawa Yukichi: westernization of Japan.
  6. Industrial revolution history. Briefly introduce the background of the industrial revolution. Which effects did the revolution have on society? Examine the world economy improvement due to the industrial revolution.
  7. What were the cornerstones of scientific development? Examine the progress in biology studying. Who are the leading representatives of the biology progress of the given period? Comment on the impact of natural strides on the modern world. What are the most significant accomplishments of scientists?
The 19th century introduced photography and telephones.
Source: Toptenz.net
  1. Durrani Empire – the great empire of the 18th-19th centuries. How was the empire established? Who were the rulers? The Afgan state foundation as a part of the Durrani Empire’s existence. What was the relationship of the Durani Empire with China? Describe the decline of the empire.
  2. Social studies advancement. What branches of social studies were the most developed in the 16th-17th centuries? Focus your attention on political science, geography, economics, sociology, psychology. Explain the reason for ongoing social studies’ progress.
  3. Taiping Rebellion in China: the bloodiest conflict of the 19th century. Examine the causes of the conflict. What were the outcomes of the Taiping Rebellion? Discuss why Hong Xiuquan (the leader of the Taiping Rebellion) proclaimed himself Jesus’s younger brother.

☢️ 20th Century

The 20th century is one of the most influential and landmark periods in recent history. It focuses mainly on two world wars. The events of this period directly affect current society formation. The list below presents 20th-century world history essay topics. So, take benefit of it! Choose the most appropriate topic for your essay!

  1. World War I origins (how and why the war started)
  2. World War II positive and negative repercussions
  3. Cold War major aspects and events
  4. Feminist Movement in Canada.
  5. What is the heritage of the Soviet Union?
The Soviet Union was erased from world maps because it could not sustain itself.
Source: Americanheritage.com
  1. The communist party in the Soviet Union and China.
  2. The major causes of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.
  3. What is the King–Byng affair? Consider the constitutional crisis in Canada of 1926. Discuss the causes and effects of the King-Byng affair. Examine how did the King-Byng lead to constitutional reform.
  4. China’s democracy movement. Examine the beginning of the Chinese democratic movement. Consider the new democratic revolution and the cultural revolution. How do these events reflect on China’s democracy movement? Discover the issue of democracy wall movement. What was the reason for political persecution in China caused by the democratic movement?
  5. World War I vs. World War II. Examine the differences and similarities of the two world wars. Analyze the causes and the outcomes of both wars. Give your own opinion: which war do you think has more positive effects on social development? Which war has more negative consequences on social development?

🛠️ Modern European History Topics

Modern European history is quite versatile and broad. Therefore, it offers a wide variety of topics to explore. The period of the 16th-20th centuries is full of landmark events. They are the reformation, the age of discovery, various worldwide conflicts, etc.

For easier writing, search for modern history topics about discoveries and inventions.

Our writing team developed a list of modern European history essay topics. So, if you need to compose an outstanding essay, you are more than welcome to use the ideas presented below!

🚢 16th-17th Centuries

  1. European Christianity and its decline from the 16th century.
  2. The significance of Martin Luther and the protestant reformation in the history of western civilization.
  3. Age of discovery in Europe.
  4. How and in what ways did the use of print change the lives of early modern Europeans?
  5. The Spanish Armada: Britain and Spain in Battle of the Seas.
  6. The centers of Christianity placement: a European approach to Christianity spreading.
  7. The Enlightenment. How did the enlightenment philosophy affect Europe’s religions in the 16th and 17th centuries? Explain how the enlightenment philosophy impacted Europe’s political institutions. In what way did the enlightenment philosophy influence Europe’s social class in the 16th and 17th centuries?
  8. Studies of Western Europe: Columbus’ journey. Discuss an account of Columbus’ voyage. How did Columbus’ journey influence the development of geography in the 16th-17th centuries? Examine the theories leading to Columbus’s voyage.
  9. The Thirty Years War. Indicate the origins of the war. What were the outcomes of the war? Analyze the casualties and diseases caused by the Thirty Years War.
  10. Reformation and development of the arts. Discuss the spreading of the reformation in Europe. Who were the key players in the reformation era? What was the effect of reformation on the arts?

⚔️ 18th-19th Centuries

  1. The French Revolution and Napoleon’s governance.
  2. Napoleon’s French army, 1800-1808: motivation and military culture
  3. The most outstanding philosophers of Europe on the Enlightenment Age.
Some of the most important writers of the Enlightenment were the Philosophes of France.
Source: Britannica.com
  1. The British Empire and international affairs.
  2. Napoleon Bonaparte: His successes and failures.
  3. Napoleon: A child and destroyer of the French Revolution.
  4. James Cook – the first European to land on the Hawaiian Islands. Conduct small research on James Cook’s biography. Examine his three voyages. How did his discovery of the Hawaiian Islands impact Europe? Did the perception of American geography change?
  5. Irish Rebellion of 1798 as the protest against British rule in Ireland. What was the background of the Irish Rebellion? Provide a detailed description of the timeline of the rebellion. What are the positive and negative outcomes of the Irish Rebellion?
  6. The scientific progress in the 18th-19th centuries. Discuss the three outstanding inventions listed below:
    a. The identification of X-Rays by Wilhelm Röntgen.
    b. How did Joseph Swan invent the first electric lightbulb?
    c. The Hansen Writing Ball (the first commercially sold typewriter) by Rasmus Malling-Hansen.
    How did these inventions push the scientific progress forward?
  7. The Kulturkampf (“Culture War”). Examine the timeline and laws established during the Culture War. What are the differences and similarities of the Culture War in the following countries:
    a. Germany
    b. Switzerland
    c. Austria
    d. Italy
    e. Belgium

🏭 20th Century

The 20th Century is a watershed period in European history. The events, which occurred during that time, considerably contribute to European society formation. The list below includes 20th-century European history essay topics. Enjoy using it for your successful work!

  1. What were the critical technological advancements in Europe during World War I?
The most important World War I technologies.
Source: Mentalfloss.com
  1. World War II Innovations.
  2. How useful is the term ‘fascism’ when applied generically to describe the far-right in interwar Europe?
  3. Role of the Woman during the Spanish Civil War.
  4. Cold War Consequences for European Countries.
  5. Has security been the main driver behind European integration since World War Two?
  6. The Great Depression of 1929–1939. What is the impact of depression in Eastern Europe and on Western Europe? Explain the role of the League of Nations in dealing with the Great Depression. What are the causes of the Great Depression in Europe?
  7. How did European poets and writers of the 20th century describe World War I and World War II in the books? The visualization of the conflicts occurred during the wars in the literature.
  8. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Briefly discuss reforms in the Eastern Europe geographical division. What was the compromise of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin? Analyze the consequences of Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact for different countries. Consider the effects on Finland, Poland, the Baltic States, and Romania. What was the outcome of the pact?
  9. The cultural development of Europe in the 20th century. There are two famous influencers of European art advancement:
    a. Consider Richard Georg Strauss as the key figure of the 20th-century European music.
    b. Was Pablo Ruiz Picasso a significant figure of 20th-century European art progress?
    Discuss how these individuals contributed to the cultural flourishing in 20th-century Europe.
Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer considered one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century.
Source: Biography.com

📻 Modern US History Topics

The USA is a relatively young nation. Nevertheless, American history impresses with a wide variety of significant events. During its lifespan, the country faced wars, revolutions, inner and outer conflicts, reformations, and more.

The list of essential episodes of USA history is unbelievably long. So if you are overwhelmed with the oversaturation, don’t be confused and upset. Take a look at our modern American history topics. You will find something useful here.

🏹 16th-17th Centuries

  1. The Native Americans’ history.
  2. Conquest and colonization of America by Europeans.
  3. How did religion affect the pattern of colonization in America and life in those colonies?
  4. The importance of the process of colonization and the formation of unique cultures in America to the formation of the United States.
  5. Royal African Company. Why did a trading company have the greatest impact on the slave trade establishment in the USA?
  6. What was the impact of European colonization on American culture?
  7. The colonization of America as one of the most famous early American history topics. What were the goals of the conquest? What countries took part in the colonization of the USA?
  8. French-Indian War of 1754–1763. Examine the background of the war. Then, describe the course of the war. What were the consequences of the conflict through economic and political perspectives?
  9. How did the 17th century become the beginning of the slavery era in the USA?
The system of African slavery came slowly to the English colonists.
Source: Pressbooks-dev.oer.hawaii.edu

🏗️ 18th-19th Centuries

  1. American History: the Road to Civil War
  2. The political reforms in 18th-century America.
  3. How does American literature reflect on the events of the Civil War?
  4. The Ideas of Freedom and Slavery in Relation to the American Revolution
  5. Visual art of the USA. Comment on Europe as a significant influencer of American art flourishing.
  6. Causes of the Civil War in the USA.
  7. History of the African-Americans Religion During the Time of Slavery
  8. United States Declaration of Independence of 1776: causes and effects.
  9. The Opium Trade: the new way of exporting goods from China to Britain through the USA.
  10. Industrialization as the leading cause of economic growth in the 19th century.
  11. The War of 1812 in American history.
  12. Anti-slavery movements in the United States. The people’s desire to abolish slavery: a fiction or a reality? Who were the most outstanding leaders od the anti-slavery movement? Explain how movement pushed the slavery abolishment forward.

🚀 20th Century

You may notice that the 20th century US history topics are diverse. An impressive number of landmark events occurred during the 1900s. They immensely contributed to modern USA development.

The following essay questions will help you investigate. Find the most significant events of 20th-century American history and start your research.

  1. The American strategic culture in the Vietnam War.
  2. How did Ellis Island become a hospital for the American army during World War I?
During the peak years of Ellis Island’s operation, almost two thousand people passed came every day.
Source: History.com
  1. Cold War Major Aspects and Events.
  2. What were the USA contributions to the space age?
  3. The problem of the USA exposed by the Great Depression.
  4. Latinos’ civil rights’ winning in the post-war U.S.
  5. America in World War II – experiences and impacts.
  6. Martin Luther King as the main leader of the civil rights movement.
  7. Immigration Act of 1924. Examine the provisions of the act. What was the reason for the Immigration Act implementation? What was the result of this event?
  8. Charles Cough as the key figure of the populism movement in the U. S. Introduce the central concepts of populism. How did it affect America? Analyze Cough’s activities as a populist figure. What role did the National Union for Social Justice play in the movement?

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"91 Modern History Topics: Essential Essay Ideas & Questions." IvyPanda, 17 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/topic/modern-history-essay-topics/.

1. IvyPanda. "91 Modern History Topics: Essential Essay Ideas & Questions." October 17, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/modern-history-essay-topics/.


IvyPanda. "91 Modern History Topics: Essential Essay Ideas & Questions." October 17, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/modern-history-essay-topics/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "91 Modern History Topics: Essential Essay Ideas & Questions." October 17, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/modern-history-essay-topics/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '91 Modern History Topics: Essential Essay Ideas & Questions'. 17 October.

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