Big History

Big History is an NSW Department of Education approved elective course.


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.

Course structure

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

Professional learning

Advice for leaders on whole school considerations, key information and further support for Big History.

Syllabus information for leaders

Whole school considerations

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.

Big History is 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.

The following support is available for schools:

A comprehensive overview of the outcomes, content and requirements for satisfactory completion of the course.


In order to comply with the Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 Policy and associated policy standards, schools must use the course document to develop educational programs for students.

Illustrative examples of how to sequence the core and options topics.

Scope and sequence

Scope and sequences are flexible documents and may vary according to local school contexts and student cohorts, provided they comply with the course documents.

A range of teaching and learning activities and resources that may be used to deliver the course content.

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.

Assessment advice and examples aligning to course content


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.

Support for department-approved elective courses


Lyndal Bimson

Teaching and Learning Advisor

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