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IB History: Internal Assessment

Use this guide to find resources for your IB history IA

Key Concepts for IB DP - History

The study of history involves investigation of the extent to which people and events bring about change. You should think 
about and look for change, even if some claim none exists. You can also look for evidence to challenge orthodox theories and assumptions about people and events which led to significant change. Your questions and judgments about historical change should be based on deep understanding of content and on a comparison of the situation before and after the events under examination. 
While historical study often focuses on moments of significant change, you should also be aware that some change is slow, and that history there is also significant continuity. You can demonstrate deep historical knowledge and understanding by, for example, showing awareness that there are times when there has been considerable continuity in the midst of great historical change. Alternatively, you may question and assess whether a change in political leadership, for example, brought about a change in foreign policy, or whether it was more accurately mirroring policies of previous governments.
Claims about the past try to explain and understand how a certain set of circumstances originated. Deep historical understanding is demonstrated where you recognize that most historical events are caused by an interplay of diverse and multiple causes that require you to make evidence-based judgments about which causes were more important or significant, or which causes were within the scope of individuals to direct and which were not.  
History is the understanding of how forces in the past have shaped future people and societies. You demonstrate competency as a historical thinker when you understand and explain how significant events and people have had both short-term and long-lasting effects. You use evidence and interpretations of those people and events to make comparisons between different 
points in time and to make judgments about the extent to which those forces produced long-lasting and important consequences.

History is not simply the record of all events that have happened in the past. Instead, history is the record that has been preserved through evidence or traces of the past, and/or the aspects that someone has consciously decided to record and communicate. You should ask questions about why something may have been recorded or included in a historical narrative. Similarly, you should think about who or what has been excluded from historical narratives, and for what reasons. Additionally, you should think about, and assess, the relative importance of events, people, groups or developments, and whether the evidence supports the claims that others make about their significance.

You should be aware of how history is sometimes used or abused to retell and promote a grand narrative of history, a narrowly focused national mythology that 
ignores other perspectives or to elevate a single perspective to a position of predominance. You should challenge and critique multiple perspectives of the past, and compare them and corroborate them with historical evidence. You should recognize that for every event recorded in the past, there may be multiple contrasting or differing perspectives. Using primary-source accounts and historians’ interpretations, you may also investigate and compare how people, including specific groups such as minorities or women, may have experienced events differently in the past. In this way
, there are particularly strong links between exploring multiple perspectives and the development of international-mindedness. 

IB History IA - Getting Started

Build a Research Question for History

Recommended Databases for IB History


There are two types of source evaluation:

Should I use this source?

  • Is it reliable?
  • Does it meet my needs?

Now that I've decided to use this source:

  • What case can I make for its values and limitations based on its origin, purpose, and content?


Coming Up With A Good IA Question

Identification and Evaluation of Sources

Choosing a topic

1)  Select a topic :

What is your broad topic?  For Example: Stalin

2)  Narrow your topic:

Pick two or more areas you are considering focusing on.  When considering an area of focus, make sure that it lends itself to an argument; that there are two sides or opposing points of view.  For example:

a)  Stalin and Collectivisation

  • Pros:  benefit to the economy, more efficient production, increase food supply

  • Cons:  lack of personal incentive, no individual identity, many farmers killed

b)  Stalin and Purges

  • Pros:  Solidify Control, Party discipline to move forward

  • Cons: Violation of human rights, freedom of speech, no opposition results in no brainstorming

IB History Command Terms

Analyse =  Break down in order to bring out the essential elements or structure.

Compare = Give an account of the similarities between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout.

Compare and contrast = Give an account of similarities and differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout.

Contrast = Give an account of the differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout.

Discuss = Offer a considered and balanced review that includes a range of arguments, factors or hypotheses. Opinions or conclusions should be presented clearly and supported by appropriate evidence.

Evaluate = Make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations.

Examine = Consider an argument or concept in a way that uncovers the assumptions and interrelationships of the issue.

To what extent = Consider the merits or otherwise of an argument or concept. Opinions and conclusions should be presented clearly and supported with appropriate evidence and sound argument.

Google Search Tips

To find websites and articles originating from a certain country, do a Google Advanced Search and in the domain field enter the country code.

Israel .il
Jordan .jo
Egypt .eg
Syria .sy
Qatar .qa
Saudia Arabia .sa


Once you get your results, use the Search Tools menu and narrow the results by date, if you'd like. 


Libguide Creator

Linda Hoiseth, MS/HS Librarian

+91 11 2688 8854 Ext: 3358

Twitter: @lhoiseth