History Term Paper Topics

History Term Paper TopicsThere are numerous history term paper topics you can choose from when writing a term paper. If your class is focusing on a specific time period or historical event, use something from that time. If you are free to choose any history topic you want, try a topic that interests you most.

Developing solid skills in research, analysis, and writing are fundamental for a successful university education, as well as for many future job prospects. These skills are particularly relevant to the discipline of history, and the term paper is often one of the most important components of any history course. It is vital that you set aside enough time to do it properly. A history term paper is not just a compilation of facts that you cut and paste into a report. A good history term paper needs to explain something important about the past; it requires you to think critically about the topic, to draw on different sources, to sift through and analyze competing claims.

Defining your history topic is arguably the most important, and often the most difficult, task in writing a term paper. An ill-defined topic will never produce a good paper. A history term paper is much more than a list of facts about events that happened in the past: it must explain. It is also more than a repetition of what other historians have already concluded: it must include your interpretation. A good historical term paper is focused on a limited topic. To narrow your topic, ask the questions who, what, where, when, and/or why something happened as it did.

Steps for defining a topic:

  • Identify a topic of interest. If your professor has provided a list of topics, identify one that is interesting to you. If you do not have a list from which to select a topic, think of something related to the course content about which you would like to know more.
  • Review the work already done on the topic (historiography) and familiarize yourself with the basic facts and events: find out what is known about the topic in textbooks, historical encyclopedias, or other general and specialized works.
  • Narrow down your topic. Select one that is narrow enough to be feasible and manageable. An ill-defined or too-broad topic will never produce a good paper. Even if your professor provided the topic, you will probably still need to refine it

The List of History Term Paper Topics

The Ancient Near East: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Phoenicia

The First Europeans: The Paleolithic Era

The Neolithic Revolution

Mesopotamia: The Social and Economic Structures of Mesopotamian Life

The Sumerians, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria

Mesopotamian Culture, Law, and Religion

Ancient Egypt

The Social and Economic Structures of Ancient Egypt

Egyptian Culture, Science, and Religion

Canaan, Phoenicia, and Philistia

Ancient Greece

Geography, the Aegean, and Crete

The Society of Minoan Crete (3000–1400 B.C.)

The Mycenean Greeks

Early Greek Society

The Development of the Polis

Life in the Polis: The Early History of Athens

The Social and Economic Structures of Athenian Society

Sparta: A Conservative Garrison State

The Persian War

The Peloponnesian Wars

Greek Culture and Its Hellenistic Diffusion

Art and Literature in Classical Greece

Greek Thought from the Pre-Socratics to Aristotle

The Macedonian Conquests

The Hellenistic Kingdoms

Hellenistic Science, Philosophy, and Religion

The Jews in the Hellenistic World

The Rise of the Roman Republic

Ancient Italy

The Origins of Rome

The Economic and Social Structures of Early Rome

The Evolution of Roman Government

The Wars with Carthage

The Establishment of Roman Hegemony

Social, Political, and Economic Structures of Roman Empire

The Transformation of Roman Society

Social Conflict: The Reforms of the Gracchi

The Fall of the Republic

The Rise of Augustus and the Augustan Principate

The First Emperors

Art, Literature, and Thought in Imperial Rome

The Social and Economic Structures of the Early Empire

Christianity and the Fall of the Roman Empire

The Origins of Christianity: Rome and the Jews

Jesus of Nazareth

The Spread of Christianity

The Crisis of the Later Roman Empire

Imperial Efforts at Reform from Septimius Severus to Diocletian

The Age of Constantine

The Final Division of the Empire and the Decline of the West

The Evolution of the Western Church (A.D. 306–529)

Rome’s Successors: Byzantium, Islam, and the Germanic West

The Byzantine Empire and Its Government

The Economic and Social Structures of Byzantine Society

Byzantium and the Slavs

Muhammad the Prophet and the Origins of Islam

The Expansion of Islam

Social and Economic Structures in the Islamic World

Islamic Culture, Science, and the Arts

Social and Economic Structures in the Post-Roman West

Frankish Society and Politics

The Empire of Charlemagne

The Beginnings of the Feudal Age

The Great Raids of the Ninth and Tenth Centuries

The Emergence of Feudal Institutions

The Consolidation of Feudalism: Subinfeudation and the Heritability of Fiefs

Feudalism and the Manor

Social and Economic Structures in Nonfeudal Europe

The Feudal Monarchies

France and Norman England

The Ottonian Empire

Medieval Religion and Thought

Monastic Revival and Papal Reform

The Investiture Controversy and Its Aftermath

The New Monastic Orders and the Building of the Great Cathedrals

The Crusades: The Reconquest of Muslim Europe

The Struggle for the Holy Land

The Impact of the Crusades upon Europe

The Intellectual Crisis of the Twelfth Century

Repression and Renewal (1215–92)

The Founding of the Universities

Scholastic Thought

Economic Development and Urban Growth in the Middle Ages

Medieval Technology: Energy, Tools, and Transport

The Agricultural Revolution of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries

The Commercial Revolution

The Growth of Cities

Italy and the Emergence of the City-States

The Cities of Northern Europe

City Life in the Middle Ages

Material and Social Life in the Middle Ages

The Ecology of Medieval Life: The Medieval Diet

Disease and Demography

The Rural Upper Classes

The Evolution of the Chivalric Ideal

Medieval Society: The Village

The Peasant Family


Childhood, Old Age, and Death

Plague, War, And Social Change in the “Long” 14th Century

Famine, Economic Decline, and the Black Death (1315–50)

The Economic Consequences of the Black Death

Social Disorder from the Jacqueries to the Bundschuh Revolts

The Transformation of Warfare: The Emergence of the Soldier

Centers of Conflict: The Eastern Frontiers

The Hundred Years’ War in the West

Political Turbulence and Dynastic Collapse: France, Castile, and England

Art and Literature: The Measure of Discontent

The Renaissance

The Consolidation of the State (c. 1350–1500)

The Iberian Kingdoms: Ferdinand and Isabella

France: Charles VII and Louis XI

England: The Yorkists and Tudors

The Holy Roman Empire

Central and Eastern Europe

The New Learning: Learned Culture in the Late Medieval Italian City-State

Humanism: Its Methods and Its Goals

The Impact of Renaissance Humanism on the Arts and Sciences

The Religious Reformations of the 16th Century

Late Medieval Demands for Religious Reform

Anticlericalism and the Decline of Papal Authority

The Struggle for the Transformation of Piety

The Heretics: Wycliffe and Hus

The Religious Impact of Nominalism, Humanism, and the Printing Press

Martin Luther and the Outbreak of the Protestant Reformation

Other Forms of Protestantism: The Radicals, Zwingli, and Calvin

The English Reformation

The Catholic Reformation

The Political, Economic, and Social Consequences of Reform

Colonial Expansion and Religious War to 1648

The Portuguese Voyages to Africa, India, and Brazil

Columbus and the Opening of America

The First Colonial Empires: Portugal and Spain

A Clash of Empires: The Ottoman Challenge and the Emperor Charles V

The Crisis of the Early Modern State

The French Wars of Religion and the Revolt of the Netherlands

The Thirty Years’ War

The English Civil War

The Price of Conflict: Fiscal Crisis and Administrative Devolution

Preindustrial Europe: Science, the Economy, and Political Reorganization

Medieval Science and the Scientific Revolution

The Origins of Modern Scientific Thought: Physics from Copernicus to Newton

Medicine: From Galen to Harvey

The Expansion of the Northern Powers: France, England, and the Netherlands

The Golden Age in the Netherlands

The Reorganization of War and Government: France under Louis XIV

French Absolutism: A Model for Reform

The Emergence of England as a World Power

The Social and Economic Structure of the Old Regime

The Population of Europe in the Old Regime

The Economic Structures of the Rural World

Corporative Society and the Standestaat

The Aristocracy: Varieties of the Privileged Elite

The Privileged Status of the Aristocracy

Variations within the Peasantry: Serfdom

Variations within the Peasantry: Free Peasants

The Urban Population of the Old Regime

The Social and Economic Structure of Urban Europe

National Economies: The Doctrine of Mercantilism

Global Economies: Slavery and the Triangular Trade

Daily Life in the Old Regime

People and Space: Population Density, Travel, and Communication

Life Expectancy in the Old Regime

Disease and the Biological Old Regime

Public Health before the Germ Theory

Medicine and the Biological Old Regime

Subsistence Diet and the Biological Old Regime

The Columbian Exchange and the European Diet

Famine in the Old Regime

Diet, Disease, and Appearance

The Life Cycle in the Old Regime

The Life Cycle: Birth

The Life Cycle: Infancy and Childhood

The Life Cycle: Marriage and the Family

The Life Cycle: Sexuality and Reproduction

The Life Cycle: Old Age

The Political Evolution of the Old Regime, 1715–89

The Structures of Government: Monarchy

The Evolution of Government: Parliaments, Ministers, and Cabinets

The Rise of Parliamentary Government in Hanoverian England

Britain and the Struggles of Empire

The Vulnerable Monarchy of Bourbon France

The French Financial Crisis and the Resurgent Aristocracy

The Habsburg Empire in the Age of Maria Theresa

The Habsburg Monarchy and the Enlightened Despotism of Joseph II

The Army, the Bureaucracy, and the Rise of Hohenzollern Prussia

The Prussian Monarchy of Frederick the Great

Catherine the Great and Despotism in Romanov Russia

The Culture of Old Regime Europe

High Culture: From the Baroque to the Classical

Popular Culture in the Eighteenth Century

Religion and Eighteenth-Century Culture

The Enlightenment and Its Origins

Natural Law, Reason, and Progress

The French Enlightenment and the Encyclopedie

The Enlightenment beyond France

The Enlightenment and Christianity

The Enlightenment and Government

The Spread of Rationalism

The French Revolution and Napoleon, 1789–1815

The Origins of the French Revolution

The Estates General and the Beginning of the Revolution

The Revolutionary Crowd: The Bastille and the Great Fear

The Legislative Revolution of the National Assembly, 1789–91

Europe and the Revolution

The Legislative Assembly and the Wars of the Revolution

The First Republic: The Convention

Civil War and the Reign of Terror

The Thermidorean Reaction and the Directory, 1794–99

The Revolutionary Wars and the Rise of Napoleon

France under Napoleon

The Napoleonic Wars

Industrialization and the Social and Economic Structure of Europe

The Population Explosion

The Vital Revolution

The Urbanization of Europe

The Agricultural Revolution

The Controversy over Enclosure

Handcraft, Cottage Industry, and the Steam Engine

The Age of Iron and Coal

The Machine Age and the Textile Factory

The Railroad Age

The Urban World

Changing Class Structures

Age, Gender, and the Family

The Standard of Living Debate

From the British Industrial Revolution to Continental European Industrialization

The European Industrial “Take-Off”

Daily Life in the 19th Century

European Demography and the Increase in Life Expectancy

Disease in 19th-Century Europe

Medicine, Public Health, and the Conquest of Disease

Food and the Vital Revolution

Drink and Drugs in the Nineteenth Century

The Life Cycle: Birth and Birth Control

The Life Cycle: Youth

The Life Cycle: Marriage and the Family

Sexual Attitudes and Behavior in the 19th Century

The Defense of the Old Regime, 1815–48

The Congress of Vienna and the Restoration of the Old Order

The Conservative Alliance and the Congress System

Protecting the Old Order: Religion

Protecting the Old Order: The Law

Challenges to the Old Order: The ‘-isms’

Romanticism: European Culture in the Age of Metternich

Challenging the Old Order: Revolutions, 1815–25

Autocracy in Romanov Russia

The Liberal-Monarchical Compromise in France

The Revolutions of 1830

The Advance of Liberalism in Britain

International Liberalism and Slavery

The Age of Nationalism, 1848–70

The Origins of the Revolutions of 1848

The Spread of Revolution in 1848: “The Springtime of Peoples”

The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1849–52

The Labor Movement and the Rise of Socialism

Mid-Victorian Britain

The Crimean War, 1853–56

Russia in the Alexandrine Age

The Unification of Italy: The Risorgimento

Bismarck and the Unification of Germany

The Belle Epoque, 1871–1914

The German Empire, 1871–1914

The French Third Republic

Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain

Imperial Russia on the Eve of Revolution

Belle Epoque Democracy around Europe

The Rise of Trade Unionism and Socialism

The Growth of Women’s Rights Movements

European Culture During the Belle Epoque

Imperialism, War, and Revolution, 1881–1920

The Bismarckian System of Alliances, 1871–90

The New Imperialism, 1881–1914

The Scramble for Africa

Imperialism in Asia and the ‘Opening of China’

The Diplomatic Revolution, 1890–1914

The Eastern Question and the Road to War

Militarism and the European Arms Race

The Balkan Crisis of July 1914

World War I: From the Invasion of Belgium to a World War

Trench Warfare and the Machine Gun

The Home Front

Exhaustion and Armistice, 1917–18

The Russian Revolution: The February Revolution

The October Revolution of 1917

Civil War, 1918–20

The Age of Dictatorship, 1919–39

The Peace of Paris, 1919–20

Economic Recovery and the Reconstruction of Europe in the 1920s

The Conservative Reaction of the 1920s

The Changing Conditions of Life in Europe

European Culture after the Deluge

European Democracy after World War I

German Democracy in the 1920s: The Weimar Republic

Postwar Recovery in Britain and France

The Great Depression of the 1930s

Leon Blum and the Popular Front in France

The Spanish Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War

The Global Struggle for Freedom from Europe

Mussolini and Fascist Italy, 1919–39

Hitler and Nazi Germany, 1928–39

Stalin and Soviet Communism, 1924–39

World War II, 1939–45

The Long Armistice and the Origins of World War II

The Years of Axis Conquest, 1939–42

World War II on the Home Front

The Global War

Allied Victory in Europe, 1942–45

The Holocaust, 1941–45

Conference Diplomacy and Peace in Europe in 1945

The Social and Economic Structure of Contemporary Europe

The Population of Twentieth-Century Europe

Economic Structures: The Decline of Agriculture

Continuing Industrialization

The Service Economy

Age, Gender, and the Labor Force

The Vital Revolution of the Twentieth Century: Mortality and Life Expectancy

The Life Cycle: Marriage and Divorce

Childbirth, Birth Control, and Abortion

The Continuing Vital Revolution

The Cold War, 1945–75

The Austerity of the 1940s and the Economic Recovery

Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, 1945–49

NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Containment and Confrontation

The USSR under Stalin and Khrushchev, 1945–64

Great Britain: Clement Attlee and the Birth of the Welfare State

The French Fourth Republic: Jean Monnet and the Planned Economy

The Federal Republic of Germany: Konrad Adenauer and the Economic Miracle

Europe and the World: The Age of Decolonization, 1945–75

The European Economic Community, 1945–75

The Cooling Down of the Cold War: Ostpolitik and Detente, 1965–75

An Era of Unrest and Violence, 1968–75

Democracy and Prosperity Since 1975

European Peace and Prosperity

Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Revolution

Discontent in Eastern Europe and the Rise of Solidarity

The Gorbachev Revolution in the USSR, 1985–89

The Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe

The Breakup of the Soviet Union, 1989–91

Helmut Kohl and the Reunification of Germany, 1989–90

The Yugoslav War, 1991–95

See also: U.S. History Term Paper Topics