History Research Topics

History Research 1There are numerous history research topics you can choose from. 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 writing assignments 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 paper is not just a compilation of facts that you cut and paste into a report. A good history essay or research 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.

Choosing your topic is arguably the most important, and often the most difficult, task in writing an essay or a term paper. An ill-defined topic will never produce a good work. 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 historical research 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 good research topic:

  • Identify a topic of interest. If your instructor 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.

More Than 200 Ideas for History Research

10 African History Research Topics

  1. African Religions
  2. African Union
  3. Apartheid
  4. Colonial Africa
  5. Nubians
  6. Pan-Africanism
  7. Postcolonial Africa
  8. Shaka Zulu
  9. Slave Trades
  10. Warfare in Africa

20 American History Research Topics

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. American Empire
  3. American Revolution
  4. Andean States
  5. Aztec Empire
  6. Biological Exchanges
  7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  8. Haitian Revolution
  9. Hudson’s Bay Company
  10. Inca Empire
  11. Latter-Day Saints Movement
  12. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  13. Mesoamerica
  14. Mexican Revolution
  15. Mississippian Culture
  16. Native American Religions
  17. The Americas
  18. Thomas Jefferson
  19. W. E. B. Du Bois
  20. Warfare in North America

15 Art History Research Topics

  1. History of Architecture
  2. African Art
  3. Ancient Greek and Roman Art
  4. Chinese Art
  5. Dance and Military Drill
  6. East Asian and European Art Connections
  7. Japanese Art
  8. Leonardo da Vinci
  9. Music and Political Protest
  10. Native American Art
  11. Paleolithic Art
  12. Pre-Columbian American Art
  13. Renaissance Art
  14. The Enlightenment
  15. World History and Art

20 Asian History Research Topics

  1. Babylon
  2. British East India Company
  3. Delhi Sultanate
  4. Dutch East India Company
  5. Hammurabi
  6. Harappan State and Indus Civilization
  7. History of China
  8. History of Korea
  9. Japanese Empire
  10. Khmer Kingdom
  11. Mongol Empire
  12. Orientalism
  13. Pastoral Nomadic Societies
  14. Persian Empire
  15. Porcelain
  16. Sasanian Empire
  17. Silk Roads
  18. Spice Trade
  19. Tea
  20. Warfare in Islamic World

20 Cultural History Research Topics

  1. Apartheid
  2. Barter
  3. Colonialism
  4. Columbian Exchange
  5. Cultural Areas
  6. Decolonization
  7. Diasporas
  8. Ethnocentrism
  9. European Expansion
  10. Frontiers vs. Borders
  11. Maritime History
  12. Social History
  13. Indigenous Peoples
  14. Mercantilism
  15. Missionaries
  16. Nationalism
  17. Orientalism
  18. Pilgrimage
  19. Race and Racism
  20. Social Darwinism

20 Environmental History Research Topics

  1. Anthroposphere
  2. Biological Exchanges
  3. Carrying Capacity
  4. Climate Change
  5. Columbian Exchange
  6. Deforestation
  7. Desertification
  8. Earthquakes
  9. Environmental Movements
  10. Erosion
  11. Extinctions
  12. Famine
  13. Gaia Theory
  14. Green Revolution
  15. Ice Ages
  16. Natural Gas
  17. Oil Spills
  18. Population and the Environment
  19. Water Management
  20. Wind Energy

50 European History Research Topics

  1. Adolf Hitler
  2. Alexander the Great
  3. Ancient Greece
  4. Austro-Hungarian Empire
  5. British Empire
  6. Catherine the Great
  7. Charlemagne
  8. Charles V
  9. Constantine the Great
  10. Dutch Empire
  11. Early Modern World
  12. Emperor Augustus
  13. European Expansion
  14. European Union
  15. Fascism
  16. Feudalism
  17. French Empire
  18. French Revolution
  19. German Empire
  20. Hanseatic League
  21. Imperialism
  22. Indo-European Migration
  23. Industrial Revolution
  24. Interwar Years (1918–1939)
  25. Joseph Stalin
  26. Julius Caesar
  27. Justinian I
  28. Karl Marx
  29. League of Nations
  30. Macedonian Empire
  31. Napoleonic Empire
  32. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  33. Ottoman Empire
  34. Parliamentarianism
  35. Peter the Great
  36. Portuguese Empire
  37. Postcolonial Analysis
  38. Protestantism
  39. Renaissance
  40. Roman Empire
  41. Russian Revolution
  42. Soviet Empire
  43. Spanish Empire
  44. The Celts
  45. The Crusades
  46. The Emergence of State Societies
  47. Urbanization
  48. Viking Society
  49. Vladimir Lenin
  50. Warsaw Pact

15 Military History Research Topics

  1. Bows and Arrows
  2. Civil Disobedience
  3. Cold War
  4. Crusades, The
  5. Firearms
  6. Genocide
  7. Holocaust
  8. Military Engineering
  9. Military Strategy and Tactics
  10. Military Training and Discipline
  11. Music and Political Protest
  12. Religion and War
  13. Terrorism
  14. World War I
  15. World War II

20 Political History Research Topics

  1. Absolutism
  2. Bands, Tribes, Chiefdoms, and States
  3. Citizenship
  4. Civil Disobedience
  5. Civil Law
  6. Communism and Socialism
  7. Confucianism
  8. Democracy
  9. Fascism
  10. Feudalism
  11. Human Rights
  12. Imperialism
  13. International Law
  14. Islamic Law
  15. Liberalism
  16. Nationalism
  17. Nation-State
  18. Parliamentarianism
  19. Religion and Government
  20. Zionism

25 Science and Technology History Research Topics

  1. Agricultural Societies
  2. Biological Exchange
  3. Cartography
  4. Coal
  5. Computer Technology
  6. Electricity
  7. Industrial Revolution
  8. Information Storage and Recovery
  9. Internet
  10. Mathematics
  11. Metallurgy
  12. Navigation
  13. Nuclear Power
  14. Oil
  15. Paper
  16. Roads
  17. Sailing Ships
  18. Scientific Expeditions
  19. Scientific Instruments
  20. Scientific Revolution
  21. Secondary-Products Revolution
  22. Telegraph and Telephone
  23. Television
  24. Waste Management
  25. Wind Energy

History Research 2History courses require you to submit written papers as part of your assignment work. Essay writing helps develop abilities that will enable you to participate in the continuing discussion about the past, including developing and stating a reasoned argument, quickly and effectively analysing and summarising texts, and presenting a scholarly, well documented final product. Such skills have wide application in many areas beyond history.

History research topics are not ‘true’ or ‘false’ tests. There is no one right way of answering a history question. Rather, a history paper is an opportunity to enter an ongoing debate, to read and think about questions that may never—indeed often cannot—be finally resolved. There are always new ways of looking at material, new methods to apply, and new ideas to incorporate.