The field of history offers a great multitude of interesting essay and research paper topics. This list of world history topics for essays and research papers is divided into thematic subcategories:

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World History Topics for Essays and Research Papers

American History Topics:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • American Empire
  • American Revolution
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Fur Trade
  • Hudson’s Bay Company
  • Latter-Day Saints
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Mississippian Culture
  • Native American Religions
  • Pentecostalism
  • Slave Trades
  • Sugar
  • The Americas
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • W. E. B. Du Bois

Art History Topics:

  • African Art
  • Ancient Greek & Roman Art
  • Architecture
  • Central Asian Art
  • Chinese Art
  • European Art
  • Japanese Art
  • Music
  • Native American Art
  • Paleolithic Art
  • Pre-Columbian America Art
  • Renaissance
  • South Asian Art
  • Southeast Asia Art
  • The Enlightenment
  • West Asia Art
  • World Art Studies
  • World History and Art

Cultural History Topics:

  • Barter
  • Birth control
  • Colonialism
  • Columbian exchange
  • Consumerism
  • Culture
  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Ethnocentrism
  • Food
  • Hygiene
  • Leisure
  • Mercantilism
  • Migration
  • Nationalism
  • Navigation
  • Social Darwinism
  • Sports

European History Topics

  • Adolf Hitler
  • Holocaust
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Alexander the Great
  • NATO
  • Julius Caesar
  • Winston Churchill
  • Fascism
  • Imperialism
  • Industrial Revolution
  • French Revolution
  • Napoleon
  • Joan of Arc
  • Charlemagne
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Ancient Greece
  • Roman Empire
  • Feudalism

Military History Topics

  • African Warfare
  • Air Warfare
  • Bows and Arrows
  • Chinese Warfare
  • Cold War
  • Crusades
  • European Warfare
  • Firearms
  • Islamic Warfare
  • Logistics
  • Military Engineering
  • Military Strategy and Tactics
  • Military Training and Discipline
  • Naval Warfare
  • Religion and War
  • War and Peace
  • World War I
  • World War II

Social History Topics

  • Communism and Socialism
  • Consumerism
  • Decolonization
  • Environmental Movements
  • Feminism
  • Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement
  • Globalization
  • Human Rights
  • Labor Union Movements
  • Music and Political Protest
  • Nonviolence
  • Peace Projects
  • Peacemaking
  • Red Cross
  • Religious Fundamentalism
  • Women’s Emancipation
  • Women’s Reproductive Rights
  • Women’s Suffrage

Developing solid skills in research, analysis, and writing are fundamental to a successful education, as well as to many future job prospects. These skills are particularly relevant to the discipline of history, and essays or research papers are 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 historiographical essay or history research paper is not just a compilation of facts that you cut and paste into a report. A good 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 a History Topic

Defining your topic is arguably the most important, and often the most difficult, task in writing a college paper. An ill-defined topic will never produce a good result. A history 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 history 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.

History is full of mystery, riddles and conflicting points. Thus, writing a history essay or a research paper will certainly be fun, if you just choose a truly interesting history topic.

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