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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

04056 AP European History

Field of Study

From the College Board: “In AP European History, students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes from approximately 1450 to the present. Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical connections; and utilizing reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity and change over time. The course also provides seven themes that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places: interaction of Europe and the world, economic and commercial development, cultural and intellectual development, states and other institutions of power, social organization and development, national and European identity, and technological and scientific innovations.”

—Source: AP European History Course and Exam Description—Fall 2019, via College Board

Material Covered

  • Module 1: The Renaissance. The end of the Middle Ages to high Renaissance period are explored, as students look deeper into the intellectual impact of the arts and written literature.  Beginning in the Italian city-states and migrating northward across the continent, the major themes of the course are introduced (intellectual, cultural, political, diplomatic, social, and economic).
  • Module 2: Reformation and New Monarchies. The Church and monarchies of Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and France are the primary focus of this module. The expansion of religious ideals is investigated as students examine the intellectual, economic, political, cultural, diplomatic, and social impact on the various monarchical states and the continent.
  • Module 3: Exploration, Commercial Revolutions, and Religious Wars: The emergence of the nation-states are examined as the commercial revolution, mercantilism, and bullionism begin to shape the continent. Here, students will examine the causes of the decline of the Spanish empire and Thirty Years’ War.
  • Module 4: The Rise of Constitutionalism and the Age of Absolutism. Students will focus primarily on the nations of England and France in this study of the 16th and 17th centuries.  Within the section of study, there will be a focus on social, political, and economic divisions taking place within the nations. Students will also examine the rise of the concept of absolutism under France’s Louis XIV and the failed attempt in Britain under Charles I.
  • Module 5: 18th-Century Prussia, Russia, and Austria. The focus of this module includes the major social, political, and economic themes as they unfolded in central and eastern Europe.
  • Module 6: The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. From the 16th to 18th centuries, the rise of the ideas of natural philosophy and advances made in the area of science are examined along with the implications of the Scientific Revolution and the changing of European worldviews. Additionally, the Enlightenment is examined with the same approach as it applied to governments, economic systems, and man himself. In the end, we see a shift to a belief in human progress, secularization, and a passion for human liberty. 
  • Module 7: French Revolution: The causes and results of the French Revolution of the late 18th century are examined. Within this module, the rise and fall of the Napoleonic era is also examined.
  • Module 8: The Industrial Revolution and its effects on Society, Economics, and Politics. A look into the 18th  and 19th centuries’ inventions and methods of production in areas of agriculture and industrialization sectors. A strong emphasis on the economic impact of the Industrial Revolution is studied. Additionally, students will examine the “-isms” of the 19th century: Liberalism, Nationalism, Conservatism, Romanticism, Socialism, and Marxism.
  • Module 9: Romanticism, Marxism, and Reaction, 1815-1871. Here, students continue the study of the 19th-century “-isms” as well as a detailed look into the fate of the Jewish community from the spread of Emancipation to Anti-Semitism sentiment across many areas of the continent.
  • Module 10: Domestic and Foreign Affairs of the 19th Century. The continuation of advancements in political reforms in the various nations is examined. In-depth analysis into the urban life, religion, role of women, and changes in science, literature, art, social sciences, and thought are detailed.
  • Module 11: WWI. The Great War is examined in detail regarding the causes, both short-term and long-term, fighting, and goals. The module will conclude with a review of the Treaty of Versailles, examining both the provisions and consequences of the treaty.
  • Module 12: Russia, 1881-1939. The emergence of competing factions and internal strife is examined with the culmination of the 1917 Russian Revolution. There is an in-depth analysis into life in Russia under the rule of Lenin and, after his death, the struggle for succession and control by Stalin.  
  • Module 13: World Between the Wars and WWII. The traits of totalitarianism in Italy and Germany are investigated as are the leaders of those nations. Next, the focus shifts to WWII causes, fighting, goals, and entry into the post-war era. Both the experiences on the home front and the costs of war (human, intellectual, social, political, and economic) are explored.
  • Module 14: Postwar Politics and Economics (The Cold War). Causes and concepts of the Cold War from both the Capitalist and Communist standpoints are explored. This module culminates with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the influences of the Cold War on both the European and global economies.
  • Module 15: 20th-Century Culture, Demography, and More. The course concludes with a look into various social changes from 1945 through the present. Additionally, a number of movements are also examined, including youth, environmental, and women. Finally, current issues from across the continent, including political, economical, and social issues and the changing structure/organization of the European Union, are discussed.
  • Module 16: Review. Students will be given the opportunity to explore various areas of interest for further review and development of in-depth scholarly-based resource assignments.

Student Expectations

Students are expected to utilize the assigned textbook and outside scholarly resources to aid in the completion of work and assignments. Deadlines are strictly enforced during this course.

Related Requirements

Students will find this course to be beneficial in their preparation for the World History & Geography: 1500–Present Standards of Learning (SOL) test.

Students should coordinate with the local school district to sign up for the AP Exam.


  • Required: Successful completion of English 9
  • Recommended: Successful completion of World History

Course Texts and Materials


Either of the following: 

  • The Western Heritage: The Combined Volume, 11th Edition
    ISBN: 9780205393923
  • The Western Heritage Since 1300, 11th Edition (out of print)
    Authors: Donald M. Kagan, Steven Ozment, Frank M. Turner, and Alison Frank
    ISBN: 9780205962402
    Publisher: Pearson


  • Print
    • Schaum’s Outline of Modern European History
      Author: Birdsall S. Viault
      ISBN: 0070674531
      Publisher: McGraw-Hill Publishing
    • 5 Steps to a 5: AP European History 2017, 6th Edition
    • The Ultimate Student’s Guide to AP European History
    • Barron’s AP European History, 6th Edition
    • AP European History Crash Course Book, 2nd Edition
    • CliffsNotes AP European History, 2nd Edition
    • The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP European History Exam, 2017 Edition
  • Online
  • Apps
    • AP Exam Prep European History
    • Varsity Tutors AP European History 
    • AP European History: Practice Tests and Flashcards
    • AP European History Buddy
    • AP Euro History
    • AP European History Review
    • AP European History 5 Steps to a 5
    • AP European History Prep Me! Game
    • AP Euro: French Revolution
    • Clegg Flashcards
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