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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

04057 AP World History

Field of Study

AP World History is designed to be the equivalent of a two-semester introductory college or university world history course in which students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in six historical periods from approximately 8,000 B.C.E. to the present. 

Material Covered

Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical comparisons; and utilizing reasoning about contextualization, causation, and continuity and change over time. The course provides five themes that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places: interaction between humans and the environment; development and interaction of cultures; state building, expansion, and conflict; creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and development and transformation of social structures.

There are nine modules in the course:

  • Introduction Module: Welcome to AP World History
  • Module 1: Technological and Environmental Transformations
  • Module 2: Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies
  • Module 3: Regional and Interregional Interactions
  • Module 4: Global Interactions
  • Module 5: Industrialization and Global Integration
  • Module 6: Accelerating Global Change and Realignments
  • Module 7: AP Exam Review
  • Module 8: Final Project

Student Expectations

Students should keep in mind that this is a college-level course and that a considerable amount of reading and writing is required. Classwork assignments will involve about 4–5 hours per week, with an additional 5 hours per week of homework. Students are expected to not only read, but also take notes and study each chapter in the textbook and other readings as assigned. In addition to the readings, students will complete a variety of assignments aimed at helping them analyze historical evidence and develop valid historical arguments. Within those practices, students will learn to describe, explain, and analyze historical context, comparisons, causation, and continuity and change over time. From time to time, students will interact with the instructor in oral assignments and with the instructor and other classmates in online sessions and asynchronous discussions. All students are required to take the final exam given in the course and complete a final project. Specific dates for each assignment will be given in the course calendar to keep students on task with assignments. It is important that students complete all work by the given deadlines.

Related Requirements

At the end of the course, students have the opportunity to take the AP World History Exam.  Students are highly encouraged to take the exam and should check with their individual schools about how much the exam will cost and when they should register. Also, students should check with the individual colleges/universities they might be attending later to verify if college credit can be given based on AP exam scores. Schools may also elect to have students complete the SOL tests for World History and Geography to 1500 A.D. and World History and Geography 1500 A.D. to Present, although Virtual Virginia does not require these.  


  • Required: Enrollment in grades 9–12.
  • Strongly Recommended: Completion of World History and Geography to 1500 A.D. Students should be able to read a college-level textbook and write grammatically correct, complete sentences.

Course Texts and Materials


  • World Civilizations: The Global Experience, AP* Edition, 7th Edition
    Authors: Peter N. Stearns, Stuart B. Schwartz, Michael B. Adas, Marc Jason Gilbert
    ISBN: 9780133447705
    Publisher: Pearson Education
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