Big History

An integrated study of the cosmos, life and humanity, where students use evidence to develop a deeper appreciation of ideas about the world.

This is a 200-hour course in Stage 5 consisting of 10 mandatory units.

Big History starts with the long line of origin stories that humans have passed down for thousands of years. Big History will be investigated as a story that unites all of humanity, every creature in the biosphere, and all the vast twinkling cosmos in a single unbroken continuum from the Big Bang until now. This is a story about all time, all existence, and it is also a very personal story about who we are and where we came from.

Professional learning

Course information for leaders

Big History was a new department-approved elective course in 2022. The content is organised into ten modules which are all mandatory and should be taught in chronological order.

The teaching of Big History would be ideally shared between key learning areas, as the content is multidisciplinary.

Big History aims to develop students’ understanding of the history of the universe from the ‘big bang’ to the modern day and beyond, through an exploration of the themes and patterns that can help us better understand the world we live in. It uses a multidisciplinary approach to support students in their development of critical thinking skills.

It is a theoretical course with the potential for overlaps with science, history and a range of other subjects. The course is 200 hours and all topics are mandatory.

An awareness of the Controversial Issues in Schools policy and procedures is essential in planning for the teaching of various aspects of the Big History course.

The Big History project was co-founded by Bill Gates and David Christian. This course was initially developed by Macquarie University and has been adapted and implemented by schools across NSW.

The course

Schools must use the Big History course document (DOCX 243.2 KB) to develop educational programs for this course to comply with the Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 Policy and associated policy standards.

Scope and sequences are flexible documents and may vary according to local school contexts and student cohorts, provided they comply with the course documents. Download our 200-hour sample scope and sequence (DOCX 217.1 KB)


Big History assessment advice (DOCX 225.7 KB) is available to assist teachers to select a range of different activities for the purpose of assessing and reporting.

Department-approved elective courses are not eligible for credentialing on the Record of School Achievement (RoSA). Assessment activities should reflect the school's organisation of the course and provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

Teaching resources

Schools may choose to adapt or modify this content or use other materials suitable to their local context, provided they comply with the course documents.

For more information


  • Teaching and learning


  • Web page

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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